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The news no parent ever wants to receive

My wife Hadassah sent me a message from the hospital this morning. The son of a good friend of hers had been killed by a rocket attack in Gaza. The mother had received the news no parent ever wants.

Ironically, her name is Chaya (the feminine form of the Hebrew name Chayim, “life”). The son, 26, oldest of three sons, was named Yakir (“dear one”). Chaya had been a nervous wreck since Yakir reported for duty last October after Hamas broke a ceasefire with Israel. Now he was a martyr. (A moment ago, my daughter Naomi told me of her classmate whose relative was killed in the same attack.)

A thousand mourners, including Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, attended the heartbreaking funeral.

Is it all necessary?

The thousands of lives lost, families destroyed, livelihoods ruined, economies devastated, on both sides, are a catastrophic waste.

On the Gazan side, the true numbers will never be known. Statistics coming from any agency in Gaza are controlled by Hamas, which censors all information. Casualty figures don’t distinguish between civilians and terrorists. Definitions are blurred (many of the children are teenage Hamas terrorists!).

There is concealed civilian fury towards Hamas, but public grumbling is high-risk because opposition is quashed violently.

No humanitarian group would dare question Hamas, even as 8,000 trucks filled with food and emergency supplies barely reach civilians, because many shipments are hijacked by Hamas for its sole use.

The Red Cross has made scant effort to reach and treat the Israeli hostages. The charity’s interests are treating Gazan civilians and blaming Israel. Hamas is never disparaged. When Simona Steinbrecher asked the Red Cross about contacting her hostage daughter Doron, 30, to get her the medicine she needs daily, she was told, “Care more about Arab people on the other side, the people of Gaza, and less about loved ones” (“The Lead with Jake Tapper,” CNN, January 9, 2024).

Did Israel have any choice?

For Israel, there is no choice. Hamas must be destroyed. If not, it will signal all Israel’s enemies that a weakened Israel can be defeated. Those enemies–Hizbullah in Lebanon, Iranian cronies in Judea-Samaria (the West Bank) and Syria, and the Houthi slave owners in Yemen–who collectively form a “Ring of Fire” around Israel, will be inspired to continue the war with greater intensity under Iran’s guidance. The consequences would be grim for the Middle East.

It is hard to imagine, but US President Joe Biden’s emissary Antony Blinken, who has been in Israel seven times since October 7, has reiterated each time the “Two-state solution” is the only answer. In this American election year, it follows that Mr. Biden wants a ceasefire, not a drawn-out war. For Israel, another unfinished war and a resurrected terrorist entity would guarantee a repeat war and more destruction within a few years. May God strengthen the government to resist the pressure to surrender.