TEL AVIV — Israel will never be the same after Oct. 7, 2023. The invasion of its territory and slaughter and abduction of its civilians has awakened Israel’s deepest existential fears. Scenes of armed men leading away women, children and the elderly have invariably evoked memories of the Holocaust even among third-generation Israelis who never experienced those horrors.
Israel was established 75 years ago as a lesson of that dark era to ensure a safe haven for Jews in an independent state. Israelis’ certitude that their powerful military would keep them safe was shattered on Saturday, when over 1,000 Hamas militants overran the country’s state-of-the-art defenses and mounted a barbaric onslaught murdering over 1,000 Israelis, most of them civilians, within 24 hours.
To put this horror in perspective, proportionate to Israel’s population of nearly 10 million, the death toll would equal four times the number of Americans killed on 9/11. Witness testimony and video attest to the particular cruelty of the assailants who broke into homes, murdered children in front of their parents and parents in front of their children’s uncomprehending gaze, innocent civilians who have spent their lives in Gaza border communities hoping for peace against all odds.