To be honest, I don’t really know how to start writing to you today. But no matter who I spoke to yesterday–friends, former army comrades, journalists or neighbors–we all muttered the same thing. “What happened in the south can’t be true!”
In the 75-year history of the State of Israel, never have so many Israelis died in a single day. Over 500 civilians and soldiers died yesterday in the south, and the number keeps climbing. Not in the Lebanon War in 1982, not in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, not in the Six Day War in 1967 and not in the War of Independence in 1948. What happened yesterday is incomprehensible to all of us. Israel’s national security situation has reached a low point in its state history, and we urgently need to get back on track. Otherwise, our enemies will quickly recognize Israel’s weakness and attack from other fronts. As I write these lines, all the windows in my house are shaking. I can hear the bombs hitting the Gaza Strip in the distance, and I live 51 kilometers as the crow flies northeast of the strip.
The evening before, Anat and I were invited to my Orthodox sister Ruthi and her large family for the Shabbat meal and the final evening of Sukkot in their sukkah. All of her children are Orthodox Torah students and none of her boys served in the army. What a quiet and peaceful time we had together around the lavish table. And then, six hours later, war broke out. When Ruthi’s family heard that our three sons–Tomer, Moran and Elad–and our son-in-law, Ariel, had been called up to reserve duty, they sent us a WhatsApp after Shabbat:
That’s their job in our family and we don’t argue about it anymore. Your children pray and our children fight.
How the hundreds of Palestinian terrorists managed to enter Israel through the border fence early on Shabbat morning without being detected in time must be recorded as one of the greatest failures in Israel’s history. Israel’s border surveillance system was likely disabled with a drone and Iranian cyberattacks before the Palestinian terrorists entered Israel. If this is true and acknowledged by the Israeli military establishment, then it explains Palestinian success and Israel’s strategic failure.
The issue in the war is not the rocket attacks on Israel, but the surprise attack and free movement from the Gaza Strip to Israeli towns and kibbutzim in the south of the country. Palestinians invaded in jeeps, motorcycles and on foot, and conquered the south. But the worst thing is the kidnapping of numerous Israelis, entire families with their children, civilians, grandmothers with their Filipino carers, young people from the techno party Nova in Reím, soldiers alive or dead. In the Telegram channel we have only shown a few of the many videos, how Israelis were transported to the Gaza Strip, en masse. They say there are 180 Israelis held captive there, but I won’t be surprised if the number is higher.
It seemed as if the entire south was undefended. Zero security! It was hours before Israeli soldiers were seen. My friend Amnon in the south rescued his daughter Ronnie from the music festival yesterday and told me that all the roads around Gaza were open. No soldiers, no roadblocks, nothing. Using Google location, he managed to save his daughter from the chaos in the empty fields at the border fence. He was angry with the army and was just swearing and swearing. No soldiers, no security, nothing of the Israel we thought we knew.
Family members pleading for their kidnapped children in the Gaza Strip are all over the media this morning. I don’t know how the government plans to deal with this, but I cannot imagine that these people and families will be held in the Gaza Strip for years. This also limits the Air Force’s ability to strike the Gaza Strip, because there are Israeli hostages there. Not only that, in the next few days hundreds of Israelis will be buried, funerals across the nation, and this will have an impact on the morale of Israeli society. These are numbers on a scale that Israel has never seen before. And these numbers will only increase because the war starts now. Israel is preparing for a massive ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. And this will also have its sacrifices if it actually takes place. In the meantime, the people get to know each other again. Protesters against judicial reform who threatened to refuse to serve are all in uniform and in the south. The need unites the nation.
One thing is certain, the old rules must no longer apply. Israel must act differently this time to disarm Hamas and all other terrorists in the Gaza Strip once and for all. Israel lost the first round of the fight yesterday, Israel must win the next rounds by knockout at all costs, otherwise we have no right to exist. In the meantime, Israel has shut off electricity in the Gaza Strip, which is essentially provided for free by Israel, even though they have been attacking Israel with rockets for almost 20 years. They don’t pay the bill anyway. The import of gasoline and diesel into the Gaza Strip was stopped, as were all other commercial goods. This time Israel must act mercilessly in the Gaza Strip, zero consideration! Israel is still in shock and will only find out in the next few days what a catastrophe has hit the nation.
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