On October 7, the Islamist organization Hamas caused an organized massacre in 20 attacked Israeli towns and cities, as well as military bases, where they killed 1,400 men, women and children with viciousness and cruelty and kidnapped 240 survivors.
They entered homes and shot entire terrified families, often after torturing and raping the victims.
The horrific actions of Hamas fall under the academic and human definition of terrorism. They are unjustifiable from every point of view.
This terrorist action must disappear.
Unfortunately, the Israeli government reaction has gone far beyond rejection and fight against this organization that governs the Gaza Strip. Beyond what was strictly necessary, the Israeli government repeatedly attacked civilians with aerial bombardments that even included hospital areas and refugee camps, causing, according to Palestinian figures, more than 10,000 deaths, thousands of them children. Many of these happened in the attempt to destroy the tunnels where Hamas troops are hiding or to kill one of their commanders.
In the West Bank, armed settlers have attacked Palestinian enclaves causing, according to Israeli sources, multiple deaths.
The result of this is that what began as a wave of sympathy and solidarity with Israel after the attack turned into an outcry of public opinion, not against the terrorists, but against the revenge of the Jewish state.
Now, many justify the massacres by Hamas. Others minimized them as if they were acts of resistance by a supposed guerrilla in their war of liberation, which Hamas is not and never has been. This interpretation has been morally delegitimized after the monstrous evidence they left behind after passing through the kibbutz and border cities.
But it is also necessary to recognize that the existence and development of Hamas occurs in a historical context of oppression of the Palestinian people. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the terrorist attack but said it “did not come from nowhere.”
Human Rights Watch has for years condemned the repression of Palestinians in the West Bank and now the collective punishment taking place in Gaza.
Amnesty International has condemned what it calls the apartheid system against the Palestinians.
The massacre of Palestinian civilians has led former President Obama, and others, to say about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that «no one has clean hands» and that the Israeli «occupation» and «what is happening to the Palestinians is unbearable.»
In particular, the living conditions of the more than two million who live in the Gaza Strip are unbearable, due to the combination of the highest population density in the world, the blockade imposed by Israel since the rise of Hamas, the use by Hamas of funds allocated to the population for war preparations and Egypt’s refusal to open its own border with Gaza.
As for the Israelis, the Hamas attack temporarily postponed internal divisions. But the deep differences that preceded the attack remain. Its current government is the most extremist in its history. It is exerting historic changes in the nature of the state that could lead to an authoritarian and non-democratic regime, which was causing, until the very day of the war, the most massive and persistent protests in the history of the country.
Even today, this government stokes a deep division between nationalists, militant settlers, ultra-Orthodox and plain fascists on the one hand and the rest of the population on the other.
It is a paradox that the condemnations against Israel here come both from some left-wing activists, who have gone beyond the condemnation of the acts committed in this war and now want the destruction of Israel, and from white supremacists, neo-Nazis and outright fascists. Anti-Semitism – hatred against Jews – has grown dangerously and its virulence increased, as well as the hostility against Muslims, which has the same root and is equally an unacceptable plague.
We must fight against all expressions of racism and discrimination, no matter who or where they originate.
In this context, the indiscriminate bombings and the refusal to allow the passage of what is essential for the survival of the population has caused strong criticism around the world and led to several countries breaking off their relations or recalling their ambassadors.
Of course Israel has the right to exist and prosper. It was born as a result of the suffering and persecution of the Jewish people throughout history. But Netanyahu and his ultranationalist allies do not represent the ideals of justice, tolerance and equity of a democracy.
In the eyes of the world, what is happening in Gaza are war crimes.
For years, Hamas has specialized in taking refuge behind the civilian population, in hospitals, schools and mosques, with a macabre thought: if Israel complies with international laws and refrains from bombing them, then they won. And if Israel violates those laws, bombs them and kills civilians, they also won in terms of public opinion.
The problem is that one can no longer differentiate between the campaign against Hamas itself and the bombing of civilians. This does Israel a disservice, because it undermines the supposed moral superiority it claims and unfairly puts it on the same level as Hamas.
For all these reasons, we believe that the Israeli army must begin a long ceasefire now – especially the aerial bombardments must stop now – to allow the release of the hostages, the transfer of the wounded, the departure of residents from the war zones, the resupply of the population and the improvement of their precarious conditions of life, and to encourage the beginning of negotiations for an agreement.
This should happen also so that the half million recruited Israeli reservists can return to their families and occupations as soon as possible.
In the meantime, that the pipelines be opened for the supply of water, medicine, food, fuel for civilians and whatever the population needs.
Let the army finally withdraw instead of staying there. And may the reconstruction of Gaza eventually begin.
It has been widely raised in recent weeks that there is no idea of an “endgame” of how this war will end. But while there is a consensus that Hamas can no longer continue to dominate the Gaza Strip and bring misfortune on its inhabitants, the rest is less clear.
We believe that this war has to open a path for the establishment of two states, as already agreed in successive agreements, that recognize each other and begin the reconciliation process that, we are sure, will take decades in the best of cases. And although for many this objective seems absurd today, no other solution exists.
Unfortunately, the control exercised by Hamas and the extremist nature of the current Israeli government among others make this goal short of impossible.
We do not know what reaction this text will have, if any, but we are aware that criticism will come from both sides. They will accuse us both of being pro-terrorists and they will accuse us of justifying the death of Palestinian civilians. We reject both accusations and the hatred that motivates them.
History teaches us that the military solution alone does not achieve victory and that for every child or woman or parent that the IDF kills, three more Hamas members are born.
The cannons must remain silent and open the way for difficult but necessary negotiations.