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Day 12: Iron Swords War

By Leah Garber

Following visits to Israel by myriad leaders the world over—Germany’s chancellor, Romania’s prime minister, the U.S. secretary of state with U.S. senators, president of the European Commission, president of the European Parliament, and the ministers of foreign affairs in Germany, Canada, and Italy—U.S. President Biden arrived this morning for just a few hours. This presidential visit will be followed by visits from France’s President Macron and Britain’s Prime Minister Sonak, who are expected to arrive tomorrow. Before boarding his plane for our country, President Biden said: “I am going to Israel to show solidarity in the face of the brutal terrorist attack by Hamas.”

It is comforting to wrap oneself in the support of the leaders of the free world and it gives us strengthen to embrace this unprecedented solidarity—to finally feel that the world knows what we have known for decades: Hamas is a terrorist organization that does not dismiss any means, including severe harm to its own people, to achieve its goal to destroy Israel. The notion that world leaders stand by our side in a joint struggle for a world free from terrorism gives us hope and demonstrates that we are not alone. We are grateful for the support of President Biden, the Canadian minister of foreign affairs, and so many others who stand with us at our nation’s most painful moment.

But even the U.S. president, with all his weight and influence, cannot silence the slanderers of Israel, who yesterday rushed to condemn Israel for attacking a hospital in Gaza and causing the deaths of hundreds of patients. This horrible attack was, in fact, carried out by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. A radar image from Gaza shows the launch path of rockets fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad at the time of the attack passed right over the hospital. Furthermore, the Al Jazeera network filmed the area at that time, and the documentation clearly shows that the timing of this failed launch corresponds to when the hospital was attacked. The Al Jazeera network documentation also shows that at that time there were no attacks by the Israeli Air Force or artillery around the hospital or in the entire northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli army and intelligence have additional means to prove unequivocally that it did not carry out the attack. Hamas is familiar with these facts, and they knew who bombed the hospital immediately. This knowledge, however, did not prevent the terrorists from telling the world that Israel is guilty of the massacre, when it was the Islamic Jihadists who killed their own people—and not for the first time. Although Israel has evidence that terrorists and weapons are hidden in the corridors of hospitals in Gaza, the Israeli Air Force has never considered bombing these targets out of concern for harming innocent people, even if they are the sons of a murderous enemy. Sadly, these clear proofs, confirmed by President Biden and his team, won’t convince those who choose to take a stand contrary to the facts, defame Israel, and deny its existential right. Biden also gave an unbelievably supportive speech in Tel Aviv today, and his continuous backing of Israel and its people is more appreciated that we can express.

How do all those defenders who walk away from the facts and adhere to antisemitic propaganda look at the ever-filling graves of 1,400 massacred people in Israel? Do they shed even one tear for entire Israeli families that have been slaughtered? For babies who have been dismembered? For the bereavement scattered in the kibbutzim’s fields where until just 12 days ago, trees and flowers grew and bloomed?

Can those hypocritical Israel haters look directly at the members of the Kotz family? The parents, Livnat and Aviv, and the children, Rotem, Yonatan and Petah, were together in their home on Kibbutz Kfar Aza at the time of the Hamas attack. The entire family was brutally wiped off the face of the earth when the terrorists broke into their home and murdered them in cold blood. The five bodies were found together in bed, embraced in one last eternal family hug.

Who can look into Ariel Zohar’s eyes? Both his parents, Yaniv and Yasmin, were murdered by terrorists on Kibbutz Nahal Oz with their daughters, Keshet and Tchelet. Ariel, not even 13 years old, had gone for a run a few minutes before the attack and thus was saved—condemned to be the sole remnant of a loving family of five.

Galila, Yizhar, and Daniel Peled, another family from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, were murdered together in their home by the terrorists.

This afternoon I attended the funeral of Ofir Libstein, head of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council. The cemetery is too narrow to contain all the people who came to honor Ofir, the dear man who believed in a life of neighborliness and planned a new industrial zone for the well-being of his neighbors, the residents of Gaza.

Twelve days have passed since Ofir was murdered, and only today is he being buried. The process of identifying the bodies is difficult and complex. Ofir was buried in a cemetery far from his kibbutz in the south. When the task is complete and it is safe to move his grave to the cemetery on his kibbutz, his body, and those of other murdered people, will be moved to rest forever on the land of the kibbutzim they so loved.

Ofir was among the first to be murdered when on the morning of Saturday, October 7, he left his house to fight the terrorists. His son Nitzan was severely injured and then disappeared. To this day it is not clear whether he was murdered and his body has not yet been found or if he is alive among the kidnapped in Gaza. On that Black Sabbath, Ofir’s mother-in-law and nephew were killed as well, his nephew while lying on a pomegranate to save his girlfriend’s life.

Family after family after family. A series of tragedies.

We are all one human family. The tissue is firm, but bleeding; the heart cannot be comforted; the body cannot stop crying and finds no consolation.

Together, united, we will overcome.

Leah Garber is a senior vice president of JCC Association of North America and director of its Center for Israel Engagement in Jerusalem.

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