Each week, as we read the news, it becomes increasingly difficult to come to terms with the reality that is unfolding in Israel and Gaza. The situation of the Palestinian population becomes more dire every day. We hear reports of the destruction and devastation of huge amounts of territory controlled by Hamas. The casualty reports continue to grow. The IDF has unequivocally shown that hospitals, schools, mosques and even UN relief agencies have been used as terrorist headquarters, weapons depots and staging grounds for attacks on Israel. The fact that United Nations personnel have not only been colluding with Hamas, but were participants in the October 7th attacks is horrific. Against international law and conventions, the practice of endangering civilians and using them as human shields has always been Hamas’ modus operandi. Most of these locations have been neutralized, and many non-combatants were placed in harms way. As a result, some medical procedures are taking place in unsterile environments without anesthesia. Mothers are giving birth in makeshift tent encampments. People are dying, not only as the direct casualties of war, but also because of Hamas’ careless disregard for human life, as well as disease, hunger, and lack of basic supplies. Truly, the situation in Gaza is horrific.
What the media is NOT reporting, however, are the methods that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is taking to minimize casualties – often at the risk of putting their own soldiers in greater danger. Much of the relief supplies that have been allowed into Gaza from both Israel and Egypt for civilians has been stolen by Hamas operatives for their own use. In addition, many locations in Gaza have been booby trapped – increasing the risk for IDF fighters. Israel has done everything from dropping leaflets that show areas of safe passage before attacking military targets, to calling individual cell phones with information about safe areas. These actions are unprecedented in military history. Nonetheless, the number of civilian casualties has been high. There are also reports of Hamas terrorists preventing civilians from fleeing in order to increase casualties. We also hear very little about the fate of the hostages in Gaza, the continued rocket attacks from the North and the South, and the massive international propaganda campaign that is being waged – with the financial and technical backing from Iran.
Those who support Israel’s right to defend itself against a terrorist organization bent on its destruction continue to become targets of activists who hurl accusations of genocide, colonialism and terror. Simultaneously, calls for a unilateral ceasefire are increasing. The horrors of October 7th and the fate of the hostages are quickly becoming lost in the barrage of misinformation and ignorance that are fueling the attacks. Calls of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine must be free,” are heard on college campuses, social media, and cities across the globe. The fact that most people have no idea which river or sea this refers to, or that this is a rallying cry for the destruction of the Jewish State is inconsequential. It is becoming increasingly clear that this campaign is not designed to put a stop to this conflict, but, more ominously, to challenge Israel’s right to exist as a Sovereign State.
I know that I’m not sharing anything new to most of us, but context and perspective are essential tools for those who crave truth. While we all want to see a cease to the carnage in Gaza, the fact still remains that there WAS a ceasefire in place on October 6th which was horrifically breached by the HAMAS terrorists who massacred over 1400 innocents, took over 22490 hostages, and raped and brutalized many victims on October 7th. While Israel’s stated goal is to both free the hostages and eliminate Hamas as threat, it is also clear that the immediate release of all the hostages would be enough for military action to cease. The fate of the hostages weighs heavily on our hearts and news that over 30% of them have probably died as of this writing gives added urgency to the IDF’s mission.
Increasingly, we are seeing more and more calls on Israel to implement a ceasefire from WITHIN the pro-Israel camp – both inside and outside of Israel. The carnage in Gaza is very hard to witness. The question of how much blood can be shed in order to fulfill military objectives is real and pressing. Many people and organizations that I respect have determined that a ceasefire is necessary – in order to preserve human life and cap the damage to Israel’s international reputation. The Biden Administration has been clear that, while it supports Israel’s right to defend itself, there are limits. The political pressure that they are facing is also very difficult to withstand.
I wish that I had easy answers to the quandaries that Israel is facing - and that we here in the diaspora are confronting as well - but I don’t. There is a lot that we do not know. What we DO know, however, is that Hamas is a terrorist organization that will stop at nothing to accomplish its goal of eradicating the Jewish State through any means possible. We also know that Israel has both a right and a responsibility to defend itself and its citizens.
We pray for the safe return of the hostages, for an end to the fighting, and security for all sides in this conflict. Let us remember that the real enemy of peace is not Israel, but Hamas and its backers - primarily Iran.