Israel was totally caught off guard, as the terrorist organization Hamas launched a highly coordinated, wide-ranging, and devastating attack on Saturday morning, October 7th. In a multi-pronged operation, terrorists infiltrated Israel from Gaza, resulting in unprecedented murder and destruction. This horrifying assault, which occurred almost exactly fifty years after the Yom Kippur War, left the nation outraged, in shock, and mourning. It was the worst terror attack in the history of modern Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared war on Hamas, with the Israeli Defence Forces calling up 300,000 active-duty soldiers and reservists.
One Journalist’s Take
A Ramat Beit Shemesh-based journalist for an English-language publication, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that she fled to her nearby shelter six times that Saturday morning.
“Since it was Shabbat/Simchat Torah, we didn’t realize the gravity of the situation, as we’re used to hearing sirens every now and then and running to a shelter. In the afternoon, security personnel warned everyone not to hang around outside,” she said.
“Everyone is shocked that this could happen in the State of Israel and at how Hamas managed to do this. It was a pogrom. People are sad about the hundreds of deaths and worried about the hostages, grief-stricken, but we are also confident that we’ll win this war. We are prepared, though, for a long haul.
“We are hoping this time, we’ll destroy them rather than come out with a band-aid kind of win, where you know it will only happen again, especially with all the fatalities this time. We hope the country will be more unified after almost a year of profound division.”
Guns and Rockets
Hamas terrorists went home by home targeting civilians. They also surrounded an open-air Supernova music festival attended by young Israelis, murdering approximately three hundred Israelis in cold blood.
Reports indicate that five thousand Hamas missiles rained down on Israel throughout the day across the country. The relentless barrage caused extensive damage to homes and infrastructure and claimed hundreds of lives. As of this writing, about a hundred Israelis – men, women, and children – were taken hostage by Hamas terrorists, who are threatening to execute them if Israel persists in its counteroffensive.
Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens sought refuge in bomb shelters, living in constant fear for their safety. The attack shook the nation to its core, leading many to call it “Israel’s 9/11” due to the element of surprise, the scale of the attacks, and the unprecedented death toll.
As of this report, over 1,200 Israelis were reported dead, and dozens of Israeli men and women in uniform lost their lives while fighting Hamas. The wounded numbered in the thousands. The death toll of Jews murdered in a single day reached a level not seen since the Holocaust.
“Imagine if the tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid actually helped the people of Gaza. Imagine if the tens of billions spent on terror tunnels and weaponry, built hospitals and infrastructure,” said Randy Zelcer, of Ramat Beit Shemesh. “As Golda Meir once said, correctly, ‘We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.’”
Two days later, pro-Hamas rallies took place in major cities around the world, raising concerns about the spread of radical ideologies, as well as potential local attacks against Jews.
“Tens of thousands of people are supporting savagery, barbarism? Any reasonable person knows Israel isn’t putting up walls just for kicks. It’s precisely because they know if they don’t, an attack like this would happen writ large, every day,” said Yehudi Ben Simon, from Tel Aviv. “What you see isn’t ‘resistance.’ What this is, is genocide, motivated by Islamism.”
An Owner of Apartments from Tel Aviv
Also in Tel Aviv, two Hamas missiles landed two blocks away from where tourist Brad Neufeld is staying. (Gaza is 80 km from Tel Aviv – roughly the distance between Coney Island and Norwalk, Connecticut.) A local landlord near Ben Yehuda and Trumpeldor streets has offered twenty empty apartments to those who cannot return to their homes. A fundraising drive has collected furniture and toys to fill the apartments. Ten blood drives were set up simultaneously, the landlord added, while residents filled supermarket carts to donate supplies to those in need.
“The dichotomy between the togetherness that I’m seeing today, and that animosity (of judicial reform protests) that was there a few weeks ago is astounding. It’s almost as if people are so focused on trying to help and do whatever they can,” he said.
“I think the other piece that is also out there is that everybody knows someone that is impacted – whether they knew someone who lives down there, that went to the music festival, was called to the reserves and is fighting in the war or has friends missing. There is a true sense that everyone is in this together. That part of it is also moving.”
A representative of Magen David Adom said that there are currently 2,576 ambulances in action across the country. During rescues, Magen David Adom has had many of its vehicles damaged, and they now need three hundred more.
Comments from a Haifa Resident
Jason Swirsky, a Haifa-based SEO manager, said many members of his community have been called into service.
Swirsky’s 18-year-old daughter works at an administrative job at army headquarters in Tel Aviv. Her role has switched from a day job to working 24-hour shifts. Swirsky said his children are “really struggling emotionally with the whole thing.”
Schools have been closed until further notice.
“My eight-year-old has been having a really hard time processing. Saturday night he was up almost the entire night. Since then, we have put a limit of how much information we share around the younger kids,” Swirsky said.
“My impression of the general consensus is that Israel is going to rescue the hostages and make Hamas pay the price for their cruelty and pure evil. The days of letting them off the hook of the past are over. People are also wondering how in the world did Hamas get over the most sophisticated well defended border in the world? Someone had to have dropped the ball somewhere. At the same time, seems to be a consensus that this is not the time for finger pointing.”
Hillel Fuld Weighs In
Israeli consultant and marketing expert Hillel Fuld, in an interview with Daily Thread, said, “This was like twenty-two 9/11s.
“If I am to find a cup-half-full, it is: what was, will no longer be. Whether that means no more Hamas, or we take over Gaza, whether that means we have complete control over what comes in and what comes out.”
Fuld notes that when Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005, it was “tragic, undemocratic in every conceivable way. These morons in the Knesset literally got up and said, ‘People are scared there’s going to be rockets in the South? Gimme a break.’
“You’d think they’d get up and say, ‘Sorry, I was wrong.’ Guess how many people said that? Zero. It’s not a question of taking it over. It’s a question of correcting a mistake of unprecedented proportions. I do hope at the end of the day, this will change the equation, globally. I do think that will be the case.”
While many in the global community have pledged to remove funding from the Gaza Strip, Fuld said, “That’s a positive thing. They are changing their tune.”
Colonel Grisha Yakubovich
Col. (ret.) Grisha Yakubovich is an expert on Gaza and is a consultant to the Ministry of Intelligence. He said,
“Fifty years after the Yom Kippur war, we failed again. I’m saying it – we failed again.” He noted the parallel in being caught off guard and the high number of casualties.
“Hamas took three hundred Fatah, shot them in the legs, and tossed them off buildings. If they did that to their brothers, do you not think they’d do that to us?” he asked. “Hamas finally told the world who they are.”
The Israelis provide 20 million cubic meters of water each year to Gaza free of charge, Yakubovich said, and when the counteroffensive began the taps were shut off. “It’s not to punish [ordinary] Gazans…we will do whatever is needed to crush Hamas and bring the hostages back home.” He further noted that Arab-Israeli leaders have shown their support for Israel, and during the attack, Israeli Bedouins called the police and showed them where terrorists were hiding.
Major General Amos Yadlin
Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin is a former fighter pilot and general in the Israeli Air Force, IDF military attaché to Washington, D.C., and head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate. He said in a press briefing that the flaw in thinking may have been that Israelis were focused and distracted by the Iranian threat and Syrian sabre-rattling, and they did not want to “waste energy and attention on this terror organization in Gaza – this was one assumption.” Other experts believed that Hamas wanted to rescue their economy, and “not initiate a full-scale war.”
What occurred on October 7th “was worse than Isis, which is a Nazi organization that should be destroyed the way the Nazis were destroyed in Europe by the Allies; the way Isis was destroyed in Iraq [Yadlin himself participated in the 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor], and Syria by the American led coalition. This is how we stand today, not anymore thinking about a limited operation to achieve quiet and tranquility and gaining time until the next round.”
Dan Illouz, Knesset Member
Canadian-born Knesset member for the Likud party, Dan Illouz, 37, provided a glimpse into the heart of Israeli mettle and resolve, amidst the recent harrowing incidents of wide-ranging Hamas violence. He shed light on the complex military challenges, while emphasizing the Jewish state’s unwavering commitment to peace and security that fuels the nation’s resilience.
“Today the people of Israel are incredibly united – a couple of weeks ago we’d be talking about divisions. Right now, Israel is more united than it ever was,” Illouz said.
He noted that even though many Israelis vowed to refuse being called to army service to protest the judicial reforms, all of those called into action reported for duty. Additionally, thirty percent of the reservists who were not called up reported for duty voluntarily. Others travelling abroad came home to serve, he said.
“Israelis don’t want war. We all know the cost of war. If we don’t go to war, [the attack] will be the new normal.
“If we don’t eliminate Hamas, we will see more of this in the future… Not that we want vengeance or violence, but we want to succeed.” The counteroffensive will be “a clear message – understood by Beirut and Teheran.”
The Iranian regime is believed to have aided Hamas with financial and material support, and training of the Gazan terrorists.
“We have a duty to Israel, and the free world, to respond forcefully to these attacks. If Hamas doesn’t eventually regret what it did, we have failed in our mission.”
Israel’s Ability to Fight on All Fronts
Reports say the conflict escalated in the region, with missiles being fired from Southern Lebanon and Syria. Illouz is confident that the Jewish States’s military strength will overtake these and other attacks.
“I have no doubt Israel will be much stronger when all of this is said and done,” Illouz said. “We will send a clear message to all of our enemies: if they thought we are weakened, we will show them that it is not true. We have a strong army and a strong people.”
In an interview with Community, Illouz elaborated that part of the end goal should be to “take back control of Gaza,” and he signed a letter calling on the Israeli government to do just that. “That’s the best path until proven otherwise,” he said.
There has been some speculation that the attacks were timed to scuttle recent peace talks with Saudi Arabia, but senior Hamas official Ali Baraka told Russian television that the invasion was in the planning for two years, with Russian and Iranian support. Illouz said that normalization discussions will continue with the Saudis.
Allies in the Arab world have expressed their support in diplomatic circles, including a high-level UAE official, who sent Illouz a text that encouraged Israel to eliminate Hamas.
“It’s because Hamas is a threat to the Western world, and the Arab world – because the moderate Arab world wants to see the world a better place,” Illouz said.
A Message of Solidarity
When asked by Community if the current crisis might dampen immigration to Israel Illouz responded that his personal decision to move to Israel was made on the day of the infamous lynching of Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, Oct. 12, 2000, at the beginning of the second Intifada. “On the day the [Palestinian boys’] bloody hands were proudly shown to the cameras.”
“I think times of crisis actually create solidarity,” he said. “The sense of solidarity is the biggest fuel for making Aliyah, more than economic or other considerations. The will of people to be a part of the great story that is Israel – in trying times, the sense is even stronger.”
“If anything, I predict that this will only cause more solidarity and therefore more Aliyah, and not less.”