WAR TIME // Hundreds of murders and kidnappings by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, accompanied by thousands of missiles, plunge Israel into war

The mass murder of hundreds of Jews, probably the deadliest day for Jewish civilians since the Holocaust, as well as the kidnapping of more than 100 others, has brought the entire Jewish world into mourning and shock.

On October 7, Shemini Atzeres, a massive barrage of missiles from Gaza into Israel was followed by the infiltration of hundreds of Hamas terrorists into southern Israel on ground vehicles and hang gliders. At least 14 border communities were attacked, with residents huddling inside their houses for safety and begging over the phone for help from the IDF—which didn’t come soon enough for far too many people. Meanwhile, IDF bases were overrun by terrorists.

Grandmothers and grandfathers were shot down in the street. Whole families were murdered together. And many of those who were not killed, including babies and children, were dragged across the Gaza border.

More than 900 Israelis and foreigners were killed, well over 2,000 were wounded, and more than 100—perhaps many more—were kidnapped. At a “nature” party held near Kibbutz Re’im, 260 attendees were butchered.

The terrorists took gleeful videos as they carried out brutal, gut-wrenching acts both inside Israel and then back in Gaza, marching captives and humiliating them, as well as displaying dead bodies. Around the world, crowds of pro-Palestinian supporters gathered to celebrate the atrocities. Meanwhile, Israeli families pled for news of their loved ones who were missing.

The number of people with foreign citizenship who were killed or kidnapped is not clear yet, but it is clear that it is very great. It includes both Israelis with dual citizenship and foreigners. For example, at least 11 Thai nationals were kidnapped and a number of Nepalese students were also caught up in the attack. American, French and German citizens were also killed or kidnapped. The reaction of foreign governments as events unfold may depend on that, as well.

Questions about the inadequacy of the Israeli military, intelligence services and border security have been immediately raised—and the answers are still not forthcoming. The fact that not only were the border security measures defeated and overrun, but the subsequent response of the IDF and particularly the Air Force was slow, will be something that politicians, officials, officers and the general public will pull apart for months or years. Blame will be argued about. Was it the governing coalition that was at fault, failing to secure Israel? Were the protests against the judicial reform a distraction? Fingers will be pointed, from every side.

The question of the role of Iran in the planning of the operation has also become a question. A Wall Street Journal report quoted senior Hamas and Hezbollah officials as saying that the planning was led by Iran. The US government has said that they don’t have intelligence that shows this, and Israeli statements on the matter have been mixed.

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