The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine has now reached a new climax. In an act of horrifying brutality that has shaken the very core of Israel, Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip, launched an unexpected and severe assault on Israel on October 7th, during the peaceful hours of the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. The echoes of this assault lead back to the attacks on Yom Kippur fifty years ago—almost exactly to the day—when Israel’s Arab neighbors, Syria and Egypt, launched a surprise attack on Israel on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, on October 6, 1973.
At approximately 6:30am this past Saturday, the skies of Israel were overshadowed by the deadly specter of rockets fired from Gaza. Sirens wailed not just in border areas, but in distant cities like Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva, signaling the vast reach of this assault. Israel's military reported the shocking number of 2,500 rockets, each one a messenger of death and destruction. Among the chaos, the heartrending news emerged of the mass killings by the terrorists.
The boldness of the attack was evident when Hamas fighters easily crossed one of the world's strongest borders. Instead of the usual lively scenes, Israeli streets saw Hamas fighters using motorcycles and bulldozers to break through barriers.
Perhaps the most haunting episode in this nightmare was the attack of the Nova Music Festival near Kibbutz Re’im. A cheerful festival where young adults were celebrating life turned into a field of corpses within minutes. The air, which earlier resonated with music and joy, was pierced with screams and cries of despair. The ground was stained with the blood of the young and the innocent. The horror didn’t end there; reports later came out that terrified young Israelis were dragged away into Gaza. This scene is considered to be the worst civilian massacre in Israeli history, with 260 deaths and an undetermined number of hostages taken. Israeli communities on both sides of the festival grounds also came under attack, with Hamas gunmen abducting dozens of men, women, and children, including elderly and disabled people, killing almost all.
In a desperate bid for safety, the resilient citizens of Israel, transformed their homes into makeshift bomb shelters, huddling together, praying for the nightmare to end. In the face of this unprecedented atrocity, the IDF acted swiftly, with around 360,000 quickly stepping up and taking action. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Israeli reservists being called back to the army to serve, reserves currently in America, including our high school’s very own Shaliach Rabbi David Kleinman, left their families and hopped on the earliest flights to Israel to fight for our homeland.
With the dawn of a new day, Israeli forces retaliated, striving to protect their homeland and its people. As Israel begins the arduous journey of healing and rebuilding, the traumatic memories of this dark day will forever remain etched in its collective conscience. The world must bear witness to the horror faced by the innocent civilians of Israel and come together in solidarity against such acts of unspeakable terror.
By: Miriam Cohen (11th)