“But one thing is absolutely clear: This is war, not just a terror attack. This is war not just by Hamas on Israel, but by Iran—through Hamas—on Israel.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated given that it is no longer clear that Israeli military officer Nimrod Aloni was, in fact, captured by Hamas.
a barrage of 2,500-5,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel. t has been 50 years since the Yom Kippur War, and Israel is again at war. What we are seeing is not just another terrorist attack or attempted incursion that leaves a few dead on each side. In the early hours of Saturday morning, October 7, 2023, the Hamas terror group launched
Meanwhile, Hamas terror foot soldiers launched an invasion into Israeli territory. They attacked, took, and held villages, towns, and cities along the southern rim of the country. This included kibbutzim, as well as larger centers such as Sderot. As of the time of writing in the early evening of October 7th in the United Kingdom, the fog of war is thick, and things are far from totally clear. But one aspect of it all is absolutely clear: This is war, not just a terror attack. This is a war perpetrated not just by Hamas on Israel, but by Iran—through Hamas—on Israel.
Much of the mainstream broadcast media has been utterly pathetic when it comes to the scope, speed, and breadth of its coverage, as well as in its soft-pedalling of what is actually happening. Hamas consists of “fighters” or “militants,” never terrorists, while Israel deliberately unleashes “terror” for no reason at all. It is the same playbook, repeated again and again. The usual leftist suspects have inevitably disgraced themselves.
Most of what we can tell about events on the ground can be gleaned through social media like X (formerly, Twitter), itself being fed footage and photos from various channels on Telegram. As such, not much has been confirmed by more “reputable” outlets, but they only have themselves to blame for their lackadaisical coverage.
What can be gathered so far is that upwards of 100 Israeli civilians have been killed, according to official sources. The number will be far higher. Numbers of wounded are currently 800 and will also spiral upwards. Most of the casualties have come not from the rocket barrage—which saw more Hamas rockets fired in a few hours than over the 11 days of the 2021 conflict—but from gunfire and grenades.
Hamas death squads have reportedly been moving through areas of southern Israel, copying their Islamic State brethren’s tactics in Paris in November of 2015: gunning down civilians at bus stops, slaughtering families in cars on the highways, and going from house to house killing residents in cold blood. Those they cannot reach they burn out of their homes. They have bombed an ambulance. At the same time, 53 Israelis, both civilian and military, have been reported as taken hostage and transported to Gaza.
Meanwhile, the footage of those kidnapped continues to appear, with young and old Israelis, particularly women and children, being shown dragged out of cars, pushed into Hamas vehicles, threatened by Hamas terrorists, and forced to appear happy and cheerful for the cameras while surrounded by the guns used to kill those around them. This is the fate of those taken alive.
Footage has also appeared of two dead Israelis taken by the terrorists. Desecration is a strong word, but it is the only one appropriate here: The female Israeli captured and killed is shown stripped, spat and stamped upon, then paraded through Gazan streets by her oh-so-courageous killers and their adoring supporters, celebrating the death of an occupying oppressor that is a symbol of the fate they desire for so many more Israelis. Meanwhile, a dead Israeli soldier is pulled from his tank and dumped on the ground before being manhandled like a sack of potatoes.
Let us put such horror in context to ram home what we are witnessing: Israel’s population is around nine million in total. Israel’s Jewish population is approximately seven million. If we scale up these losses based on the population of the United States, which is 47 times larger than Israel’s Jewish population, what Israel has lost in a few hours would be the American equivalent of 4,700 killed and 37,600 wounded. Further, if 53 is the number taken hostage, that equates to 2,491 Americans. As such, this is worse than September 11th in terms of casualties, and the ensuing conflict will likely surpass American military casualties in Iraq.
We should be under no illusions. This was a sophisticated, multi-pronged attack in service of a genocidal ideology that wants Israel destroyed and cleansed of Jews, whose adherents chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The blood produced by such a vision would create its own sea. We have had a taste of it today.
And who funded and enabled such devastation? It is Iran, a nation that praises and supports this barbarity through its financing of Hamas and its terror infrastructure. But where did Iran get the money? That would be from the American taxpayer, through the Biden regime, which has sought to reopen President Barack Obama’s misguided Iran nuclear deal and also allowed the unfreezing of $6 billion of Iranian assets.
Here we arrive at the wider geopolitical implications. President Joe Biden has, first and foremost, enabled the massacre of Israeli civilians and soldiers. This is enough in itself to damn him to perdition. But the geopolitical earthquake he has almost certainly unleashed has grave consequences. Israel and Saudi Arabia were inching toward a normalization agreement that would have replicated the success of former President Donald Trump’s Abraham Accords. This would have isolated Iran as a geopolitical force in the region. Iran’s efforts to thwart such an alliance of interests were inevitable, geopolitically and ideologically, given the Iranian hatred—rooted in the extreme millenarian “Twelver” form of Shia Islam—of Israel as a state for Jews. That would-be agreement is now dead and buried in the desert sand, from all appearances. The Saudis have blamed the Israelis for the violence, along with the United Arab Emirates, and Syria.
Israel is now in a state of war, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has joined the reserves, following the mass mobilization. A ground invasion appears inevitable. The prosecution of an anti-Hamas war in Gaza will be executed with justifiable prejudice. Casualties will be high. Hamas will likely be destroyed. Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy to the north of Israel, may take the opportunity to unleash its arsenal of over 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel. Hezbollah fighters have already approached the northern border and been fired upon by Israeli forces. The whole region, already destabilized, will further deteriorate. The two-state solution is dead. This is existential. The scouring of the shoots of peace, and the salting of the soil from which they might spring again, ultimately rests on the shoulders of Presidents Biden and Obama. For now, Israel must do what it needs to do. The fulcrum on which the world turns is at war again.
Henry George is a columnist at Merion West, focusing on politics, political philosophy, and culture.