On 7 October 2023, Hamas unleashed a volley of missiles from the Gaza border towards Israel.
While the intensity might have been notably higher than with previous such incidents, for most Israelis, it initially seemed like just another day — missile firings have become a somewhat common sight, typically intercepted by the renowned Iron Dome system.
However, what appeared to be just another attack by Hamas metamorphosed into potentially one of the most atrocious terror attacks the world has witnessed.
The sense of security that Israel had managed to uphold for years was shattered in what seemed like a meticulous operation planned over several years and assisted by one or more countries.
Thousands of terrorists managed to breach Israeli defences and went on to execute barbaric acts of terror. They infiltrated through the border fences, used paragliders, and therefore caught the Israel Defense Forces off guard.
Several questions arise regarding how such a brutal terror attack could transpire against one of the most elite armed forces in the world.
Whether it was over-reliance on technology, an insider's betrayal, or merely a collective failure of intelligence and operational units, the queries persist.
Nonetheless, Israel now finds itself unified in their demand to obliterate the Hamas terrorist organisation, recognising that it is not a time for squabbling.
Media houses around the world have repeatedly prompted opposition leaders from Israel, attempting to lead them into blaming their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, but they have maintained that now is not the time for accountability.
The focus should be on extinguishing existential threats by bolstering defence, eradicating terrorists currently on Israeli soil, and decimating Hamas terror in Gaza, rather than engaging in a blame game or attempting to establish accountability.
I do not wish to sound political, but I do feel that Indian politicians might have a thing or two to learn from them. Unlike Indian leaders like Rahul Gandhi, who have been known to praise China or accuse India of ceding land, one observes no political leader from Israel offering praise to Hamas.
In the midst of the war unfolding between Israel and Hamas terrorists, the reality of Israel's situation is often overshadowed by a one-sided narrative that predominantly pervades global media.
The agony of Israel, particularly after one of the most brutal attacks from the Gaza strip, which lamentably claimed the lives of over 1,200 Israelis, including innocent infants subjected to heinous acts, seldom grasps equivalent global attention and empathy.
The Geographic and Demographic Challenge
Israel, a nation that is not only geographically tiny but also representing a smaller population of Jewish people, finds itself persistently in a precarious position.
Their survival story, marked by endurance through the holocaust and a perpetual battle against antisemitism, is a testament to their unyielding spirit.
Terrorists harbour an alarming animosity, desiring to witness the Jewish population obliterated.
The Gaza Blockade — A Shared Responsibility
Moreover, when we talk about the much-discussed blockade of Gaza, an unbiased lens is paramount.
Often labelled as the world’s largest open-air prison, and while Israel is accused of perpetuating this condition, it is crucial to note that Gaza shares its border with Egypt as well, which is equally strict with its blockade.
This isn’t solely an Israeli initiative, but rather a collective stand against Iran-backed Islamic terror entities, which neighbouring regions rightly do not want in proximity.
The Proximity of Peril
Israel might unavoidably have to initiate a ground offensive in Gaza. It warrants reflection: How can one slumber in peace when a neighbour as treacherous and brutal as Hamas exists just a few kilometres away?
This isn’t a speculative threat for Israelis but a horrifying reality, often underappreciated by nations that possess the privilege of distance from their foes.
A journey through Israel, say, from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, reveals Palestinian territories merely metres away.
Thus, Israel perpetually exists in a war zone, bereft of the luxury of substantial reactionary time — a slight delay during recent attacks has demonstrated how catastrophic the consequences can be.
A Heart-Wrenching Human Shield
While the plight of civilians in Gaza wrenches our hearts, it's imperative to also amplify the seldom-heard voices that criticise Hamas for its atrocious, inhumane strategies.
Given that Hamas, which governs through an administration once elected by the people of Gaza, uses its citizens as human shields, initiating assaults from hospitals and schools, a sombre question arises: Can such operations transpire without some degree of support from the local populace?
As long as voices opposing Hamas or any other forms of terror emanating from Palestine remain silent, the situation will perpetually be challenging.
International Criticism & A Call for Equitable Scrutiny
The criticism from the United Nations and other international agencies, primarily concerning civilian casualties in Gaza, demands a balanced perspective.
What of the untold narratives of casualties and hostages in Israel?
How long will we allow terrorism to use the suffering of civilians as a shield?
How long will we advocate for restraint when terrorists conceal themselves among civilians and then exploit those same civilian sufferings to portray themselves as victims when Israel retaliates?
True equity and justice necessitate a thorough approach, ensuring the release of hostages and affording an unbiased platform to all parties impacted.
Why is it that democracies predominantly are schooled about human rights, while rogue nations and their terror-spreading proxies often encounter subdued responses?
It’s pivotal that the international narrative encompasses the pain, threat, and strategic complications faced by Israel.
Their decisions and actions should be evaluated not in isolation, but against the backdrop of the unyielding and proximate threats they contend with daily.
A story is never black and white, and thus, exploring its various shades is indispensable for constructing a well-informed perspective and enacting just and effective interventions.
We frequently hear woke activists emphasising that the people of Gaza have nowhere to go. However, this is equally true for the people of Israel. They, too, have nowhere to retreat and are compelled to fight for their lives, religion, and the preservation of the Jewish state of Israel.
Let's ensure that, while we empathise with the suffering on one side, we do not become blind to the pain and plight of the other. All lives are valuable, and every grief counts, whether it's in the bustling streets of Gaza or in the anxiety-riddled homes of Israel.
The goal should always be to strive for peaceful coexistence, where both Palestinians and Israelis live side by side, free from the terrors of conflict and violence. But this cannot be achieved unless forces like Hamas are completely dismantled.
The termination of Hamas is imperative for the survival of Israel and it may also pave the way for much-needed governance in the Gaza strip, subsequently fostering peace in the region.
Giriraj Pai Vernekar is a public policy practitioner and an alumnus of MASHAV, Israel's premier Agency for International Development Cooperation under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He holds the position of state spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa and is at the helm of the party's Policy & Research Department as its State Convenor. The opinions articulated in the article are his personal views.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!