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Thank G-d my family and I are safe and well here in Israel. At this moment my wife and I are staying in Yerushalayim. Our eldest son normally lives with his large family in the southern town of Netivot, which is adjacent to Gaza and was among the targets of the October 7 Hamas terror invasion. However, through G-d’s grace he was not at home when the terrorists struck, as he had taken all his family to Tel Aviv to be with his in-laws for the festival. They are now staying in Tel Aviv until they can safely return home. Our four children who live with their families in Safed have advised my wife and myself not to return there as yet, since there are fears of imminent attacks on northern Israel from Hizbollah in Lebanon, besides the prospects of unrest and terror from Arab enclaves within Israel’s borders.

People here are generally under a heavy cloud and still reeling in shock after having been abruptly shaken out of the spiritual heights of the Tishri festivals and the joy of Simchat Torah by the utter horror of the Gaza Hamas rampage of murder, violence, rape, cruelty, and destruction perpetrated in the early morning hours of last Shabbat, on the climactic Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah festival.

With over 700 Israelis killed, thousands more seriously wounded and hundreds in captivity as Hamas hostages in Gaza, an atrocity on this scale has not been known since the Holocaust era. Once again the seemingly interminable war against Jews in the Land of Israel has been catapulted to the centre of world attention after Israelis’ worst nightmare scenario has come to pass, as can be seen in numerous barely watchable video clips circulating on Internet. The horrors of the Holocaust were partially recorded in now faded black and white photographs. But today the sordid reality of this barbaric butchery and cruelty can be seen in graphic detail in full colour videos.

For years Israelis have been exposed to endless pieties from our “friends” about how peace with the so-called Palestinians can only come through a negotiated solution. But the savagery of the invading terrorists proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that they are sworn enemies who have no interest whatever in peace or meaningful negotiations but only in destroying all vestiges of Jewish life in our national homeland.

It is another question, as the immediate shock of this horror recedes in people’s memories, whether, Israel’s leadership and the “allies” who constantly pressure her will finally internalise the fact that negotiations with hell-bent terrorists are not only futile but deadly counterproductive, as they simply strengthen their determination against an enemy they perceive to be weak and willing to capitulate.

The Israeli government has declared all out war against Hamas, and at this moment the Israeli army is involved in a massive mobilisation of forces. The airforce are incessantly pounding buildings in Gaza, while well over 100,000 Israeli troops are said to be massed outside Gaza poised for a major land operation. Many Israelis and their supporters across the world would like to believe that the Israeli army will finally be allowed to use its full muscle to deliver the final blow to Gaza in fulfilment of prophecy: “I shall send down fire upon the wall of Gaza, and it shall devour its fortresses” (Amos 1:7). And, “Gaza will be deserted… and shall be a portion for the remnant of the House of Judah” (Zephaniah 2:4-7).

However, despite not a few opportunities to destroy forever the entire terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, successive Israeli governments have so far never completed the job (compare II Kings 13:14-19). Ironically, back in 1993 at the beginning of the nightmare Oslo “peace process”, when fat-rat Arafat’s terror gang were given international recognition as the secular “Palestinian Authority”, Israel intelligence circles were congratulating themselves on covertly encouraging the development of Hamas, then dismissed as a well-meaning Islamic fundamentalist charity group, in order to serve as a viable counterweight to the PA. Today we are living with the disastrous consequences of this meddling.

Already, questions are being raised as to how this invasion could have been allowed to happen. A young Israeli IDF graduate who spent two years of her army service in front of computers at the Gaza border fence surveillance centre vociferously insists that it would be completely impossible for such a breach of the fence to take place followed by an hours-long incursion deep into Israel by a literal army of invaders, without its being instantly registered by Israel’s cutting-edge border surveillance apparatus, unless for some reason the system was temporarily inactive, whether by accident or intentionally. Many of the residents of the communities attacked are asking how and why there was no response from the Israel army for 6-8 hours from the time the invasion started.

Some voices are comparing the present fiasco to the Israel intelligence failure to prepare for the surprise Arab October 6 1973 Yom Kippur War, which took place exactly 50 years before the present October 7 2023 attack. Others are suggesting that some hidden powers were content to allow the security forces turn a blind eye to Hamas plans and preparations, which must have been going on for months, in order to facilitate what is being termed Israel’s 9/11, with the intent of creating such a shock in Israel as to justify a full-fledged campaign against Gaza followed by a mass prisoner / hostage exchange. It is an open question what Israel will need to do to secure the safe return of the hundreds of captives now in the hands of Hamas. The other major question is whether Iran and her proxies in the middle east and across the world will sit idly by if they see Hamas being destroyed. The present Israeli war could blow up in an instant into a far wider and more destructive conflict, including the long-awaited showdown between Israel and Iran. Could that be what the Israel Prime Minster was implying in his message to the nation, when he said: “We will be victorious in this war despite an unbearable price”?

The Hamas-Gaza terror cancer has been allowed to grow to its present deadly proportions for the simple reason that from the time of the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel first conquered Gaza until the present day, no Israeli government has had either the will or the nerve to deal decisively with the enemy and utterly destroy them. (This is parallel to King Saul’s failure to decisively destroy Amalek, I Samuel chapter 15.) The Israeli government is subject to unceasing diplomatic pressures to live with the disease despite the horrendous cost in Israeli suffering and loss of life. The contemporary liberal “ethical” justification for Israel’s obligation to tolerate and mollycoddle her enemies is trumpeted ad nauseam: “All lives matter; Terrorists’ human rights must be protected at all costs; Are they not really unfortunate freedom fighters seeking to throw off the yoke of settler colonial occupation?” etc. Until today these pieties have been endorsed and promoted by Israel’s own secular leftist constituency, including top members of the defence forces, not to speak of the country’s High Court judges. Will anything change from now on?

The mollycoddling of criminals and terrorists is now mainstream in judiciaries in most of the “advanced”, “liberal” countries including Canada and USA and across Europe, as if dealing with crime and violence with decisive force is somehow “primitive”. Theft, robbery, looting, violent assault, rape, murder and random unprovoked destruction are now commonplace in all these countries, yet courts continue to deal with perpetrators with velvet-gloved leniency, depending on their skin colour etc., where not giving them an entirely free pass.

This is a flagrant violation of the Seventh Commandment of the Universal Noahide Law Code, which applies to all humanity: To establish Courts of Justice which apply the full force of the law against all criminals equally, impartially and without discrimination, whether on account of race, colour, creed, political allegiance or socio-economic status. The soft approach to crime, violence and terror (while people of faith and traditional values are actively persecuted by the police and judges) have simply emboldened all manner of evil people, with consequences visible everywhere today in the progressive breakdown of law and order everywhere.

The murderous invasion of the Gaza terrorists and their attacks on peaceful, helpless, unarmed women, children and old people should serve as a grim warning to all the countries in Europe and America that have in recent times allowed floods of unvetted migrants into their countries, mostly military-aged men who not only do not share the values of their host countries but are often diametrically opposed to them and want to destroy them. It needs little imagination to conceive of situations developing where cities and communities across Europe and America become hellholes of ever-lurking danger and terror for peaceful, law-abiding citizens.

The Gaza onslaught has caught Israel at a time when our society is deeply divided, as has been seen in the protracted violent left wing opposition to the duly-elected coalition government’s program to implement reforms in the judiciary. It has likewise been seen in actual physical assaults by extremist secular “Jewish” Tel Aviv residents on Torah-observant Jews who held Yom Kippur services in public places in the city, as well as on people shaking the Four Kinds in the streets on the festival of Sukkot. If secular Jews treat observant Jews in this manner in the Jewish State of Israel, is it any wonder that Hamas fanatics plot to efface the Jewish presence in Israel and across the world?

Our Torah sages teach that even if Israel stray far from the Torah, as long we are at peace with one another, G-d lets us be, as it says: “Ephraim is joined together in idolatry – leave him” (Hosea 4:17). But when we are divided among ourselves and from G-d, we are in danger, as it says: “Their heart is divided – now they must bear their guilt” (Hosea 10:2).

All of us who are simple citizens, Torah lovers, seekers and lovers of HaShem, are now called each one of us to serve in His army through the fulfilment of His orders, the commandments of the Torah, and through our prayers from all our hearts for the peace of Israel, which will bring peace and blessing to all the world.

Shalom from the Holy City of Jerusalem!

Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is a Torah teacher based in Safed Israel & author of translations and commentaries on Bible, Hassidut, Kabbalah, Spiritual Growth, Health & Healing. He is the Director of the Azamra Institute and maintains the website.

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