Unlike what seems to be the case for many people living outside of Israel, the horrors (and that word is so inadequate) perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th haven’t receded for Israelis; rather, they continue to reverberate. Even if many of us in Israel do not view the heart-breaking videos taken by the attackers, there are accumulating accounts of the events of that day, including descriptions of heroism by the defenders, as well as expressions of the intense pain and despair of relatives of those murdered and those kidnapped. This pain is augmented by the rising number of soldier deaths as Israel fights Hamas.
The terrible ordeals being experienced by those taken hostage is very much in our thoughts, every day. It is sad and deeply disappointing that among those living abroad there is so little empathy and, indeed, outrage about the taking of Israeli civilian hostages and their treatment. Israelis greatly fear for the lives of the hostages and the future well-being of those who might survive.
There is a real understanding among Israeli Jews that the savagery experienced by those living on the kibbutzim and moshavim that were attacked could have happened to any of us had we been in the path of Hamas’s hordes. We feel the same about those taken hostage.
And since a Hamas representative has said that they look forward to repeating October 7th again and again until the State of Israel is destroyed, those Israeli Jews with open eyes (and that is undoubtedly the overwhelming majority) take these words seriously. And these words are not new; we’ve read reports of Hamas’s intentions for a long time. The events of October 7th proved that they mean what they say.
This understanding explains the resolve within Israel to destroy Hamas, eliminate its military capacity, and end its rule within Gaza. This is not “revenge” but self-preservation. If Israel does not destroy Hamas, the savagery of October 7th will happen again. We know that because we’ve seen how Hamas has recovered and become even stronger after earlier episodes when Israel undertook limited attacks on their military capabilities.
As to the civilian casualties in Gaza, the truth is that they could have been minimized had Hamas surrendered. It is not Israel’s intention that these casualties are occurring, in whatever true numbers they might be, which we will never know but are most likely less than Hamas claims. Rather, they are an unavoidable and regrettable concomitant of the pursuit of Israel’s vital goal, which is to destroy Hamas and its partners in Gaza, so that they cannot repeat the horrors that they perpetrated with glee on October 7th.