The attacks on Israel that began Saturday morning will no doubt be seen by some as the latest, albeit unusually brutal, tit-for-tat in the region’s seemingly unending cycle of violence.
But today it’s different. Today is a day that will go down in history as one of Israel’s darkest. And in the days and weeks ahead, as the shock and fog of war dissipate and the full repercussions become clear, this could prove a turning point in the West’s fight against terrorism.
It is already clear that Palestinian terrorists have crossed a line like never before. Many countries quickly declared that the brutality perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists was unacceptable. Yet, unsurprisingly, many other countries have remained silent or, worse still, sought to explain eliminate brutality to accommodate their own political perspectives and worldviews. They are deeply wrong.
In an age where the line between good and evil is constantly blurred, this is a sobering moment of clarity.
Hamas has sunk to a depth of savagery that should shock us deeply. The terrorist group infiltrated Israel by land, air and sea and attacked neighboring communities. They massacred elderly people, gunned down civilians in their homes, kidnapped mothers with babies in their arms, mutilated the bodies of men and women, and paraded their victims through the streets of Gaza in a celebratory spectacle.
Through these and many other inhumane acts, Palestinian terrorists have shown that their fight is not about settlements, checkpoints or the myriad other policies over which Israelis and Palestinians bicker. This weekend we saw what Palestinian activists and their supporters mean when they tell us they want the land “from the river to the sea.” They want every inch of land – every city, town, kibbutz, settlement and village – between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and they want it rid of every Jew.
This is the time for accountability to all the leaders and institutions who have spent years sending the message that Palestinians are free to address their real struggles and difficulties by any means necessary to defeat the “Zionists.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responded to the attacks by expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and justifying the attacks as a response to the “terror of settlers and occupying troops.” But the terrorists did not target the settlements; They attacked communities near the Gaza border where families were at home celebrating Shabbat and the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. There is no partner for peace in a man who does not find the courage to condemn the gunmen who have taken families hostage and kidnapped children.
The attack comes nearly 50 years to the day after the country was taken by surprise in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and at a time when the nation is grappling with internal conflicts over how to move forward as a than democracy. After persisting for 75 years of open hostility, Israel will also survive this crisis.
On the contrary, it will be a defining moment for all other nations, especially those who defend freedom, human dignity and the rule of law. As welcome as the many tweets of solidarity are, we must look to the future.
Israel is already striking targets in Gaza and there is no doubt that fighting will continue in the days and weeks to come as Israel fights to return its captured citizens and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure that planned and executed these attacks .
This means that destruction and devastation will fall on Gaza, with many Palestinians killed. Soon after, a familiar cycle will begin. Heartbreaking images – some real, some fabricated by “Pallywood”, others recycled – of destroyed homes and broken Palestinian families will make headlines and circulate alongside outraged messages online.
A battle of narratives will ensue. Resolutions will fade and condemnations will begin. Social media is already full of apologists who gleefully post images of people celebrating the death and kidnapping of Israeli children. Human rights academics and professionals wonder why the White House calls terrorists “terrorists.” And experts defend this brutality by describing “armed indigenous peoples taking back their lands from colonizers,” cleverly ignoring the fact that Jews originated in the land of Israel.
Many aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are up for debate as we fight for long-term stability and a time when all people can live in peace, security, dignity and opportunity. But some things are not open to interpretation. One can be deeply disturbed by the plight of the Palestinians while still maintaining the moral clarity to recognize that certain lines must never be crossed – that we must never confuse terrorists who target civilians with an army that targets terrorists who attack its civilians.
Every nation, institution and leader knows about it. One day, books will be written, classes taught, and films made about these events. History is watching us, and we all officially are.
Aviva Klompas is co-founder of Boundless, a nonprofit organization that partners with community leaders to support education in Israel and combat hatred of Jews. She also served as director of speechwriting at the Israeli mission to the United Nations.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.