by October 2023
People at the site where a rocket launched from Gaza landed in Tel Aviv, October 7, 2023. Photo credit: REUTERS/Itai Ron

The 1973 Yom Kippur War began as a surprise attack on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. On October 7, 2023, history has repeated itself.

Earlier today, Hamas, an Iran-backed terror group, launched a surprise attack by land, water, and air – including glider assaults and more than 5,000 rocket strikes in the first 20 minutes. On the ground, Hamas terrorists punched through the border fence and drove through two checkpoints that Israel keeps open for humanitarian supplies. They attacked armored vehicles, and waged gun battles with police and Israeli reservists for hours. Neighborhoods became battlefields. Dozens of civilians and soldiers have been taken hostage. Updated reports say 500 Israeli civilians were murdered. One hospital in the border region of Beersheba reports that it is treating some 280 civilians, more than 60 with life-threatening wounds.The death and injury toll is expected to pass 1,500 by day’s end. It is the largest Hamas combined-arms campaign in memory. Within hours of the invasion, Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, in a solemn televised address, concluded: “We are at war, and we will win.”

Today is Simchat Torah, a holy day of celebration, which translates as “joy of the Torah.” On this day, observant Jews do not work, drive, write, or turn on electronic devices. A perfect day to attack a quietly celebrating democratic nation.

Already, social media is polluted by those trying to justify the unprovoked barbarity of the surprise attacks. Some said that Israel should give land for peace. This ignores that Hamas planned these attacks from the Gaza Strip, which Israel handed over in 2006 to make peace. Others talked of the “humiliation” of having to show their identification at the border fence, just as millions do at border-crossings and airports all over the world. Still others talk about self-determination—forgetting that Palestinians elected their own leaders in the Gaza Strip and those leaders ordered these attacks.

And all this babble ignores the human view: wives who watched their husbands die outside their homes, children lost in rocket attacks or slain by stray machine-gun rounds. The suffering by the many, who have no part in politics, is immense.

Photo credit: Ilia Yefimovich/dpa via Reuters Connect

The Abraham Accords, which brought peace between Israel and four Arab nations, offered historic hope. Finally, it seemed, Arab nations and Israel would work together to focus on improving the lives of ordinary Palestinians who, like the Israelis, want jobs, housing, health care and schools for their children.

But Iran had other plans, supplying vast amounts of rockets, mortars, guns, and ammunition to the Gaza Strip by ship, plane, and truck. (Some of those deadly cargoes were intercepted by the US Navy and diverted to Ukraine.) Iran wanted war and Hamas complied.

Hamas has killed more Americans than any other terror group, except for al Qaeda. It has access to underground warehouses of weapons, platoons of drones, squadrons of rockets, thousands of fighters, and training facilities to produce more. Hamas plans, promotes, and encourages terrorists and then lionizes them as “martyrs.”

Its war with Israel could last longer than the Yom Kippur War.

If we tolerate extremism, it will erode the rock of security and ultimately destroy all US efforts to stabilize the Middle East.

Hamas’ leader, Ismail Haniyeh, should no longer be received as a hero in Arab capitals. The US Treasury must sanction Haniyeh and his loved ones and deprive them of travel and international payments.

It is also not normal that Hamas continues to be supported by a series of non-state initiatives and foundations, some of which are based in Europe.

This terrorist attack comes as the United States works to negotiate a historic deal that normalizes relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could transform the Middle East. Perhaps that is the real target of today’s attacks.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

President Joe Biden expressed his support for Israel in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a surprise attack by Palestinian militants killed dozens in Israel. “We stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel,” Biden said in a statement

This is important, but the US must do more. When the smoke clears, it is likely that American citizens will be among the dead and wounded. Hamas is now a threat to America’s national security and its attempts to bring peace to the region.

Ahmed Charai
Ahmed Charai is the publisher of the Jerusalem Strategic Tribune and the CEO of a Morocco-based media conglomerate. He is on the board of directors of the Atlantic Council, the International Crisis Group, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Center for the National Interest, and the International Advisory Council of United States Institute of Peace.
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