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Civilians killed by Hamas lie covered in Sderot, Israel, on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (Ohad Zwigenberg via AP Photo)

ISRAEL AT WAR

Three pieces and a podcast that tell the truth—plainly—about a catastrophic day.

You are about to withstand a barrage of lies about the war that broke out today in Israel.

Some of those lies will be explicit. Some of them will be lies of omission. Others will be lies of obfuscation. Or lies of minimization. Lies told by people who are simply too afraid to look at such an ugly, barbarous reality. And lies told by people whose true beliefs are too ugly to quite say aloud. Turn on cable news and you can hear some of them right now.

So let’s get some facts straight.

Israel was attacked last night. It was attacked by Hamas terrorists who streamed over the border from Gaza. They came on foot and on motorbikes. They came by truck and by car and by paraglider. They came to Israel to murder and maim and mutilate anyone they could find. And that is what they did.

It is impossible to know the numbers of the dead or the missing or the injured. 

The official numbers as of this writing: 300 Israelis dead; 1,590 wounded. And dozens—maybe many more—taken hostage into Gaza. They include women, elders, and children. 

But none of those words or numbers capture the evil of what unfolded today

Young festival-goers running for their lives. Teenage girls dragged by their hair by terrorists. An old woman forced to pose with a Hamas rifle. A mother—a hostage—cradling two redheaded babies in her arms.

I have friends in Israel. Each one of them has a story of someone they know who is missing. Or injured. Or killed. This was not a tit-for-tat. This was not a justifiable military response, or just another day in a cycle of violence. This was the slaughter of innocent civilians.

New York City’s Democratic Socialists of America today announced a protest in honor of the attacks. It’s called All Out for Palestine: “In solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to resist 75 years of occupation and apartheid.” The anti-Zionist group IfNotNow explained the attacks as Israel’s fault and said of the dead Jews: “Their blood is on the hands of the Israeli government.” 

You will see a lot like this in the coming days. Ancient lies told in new language whose end is always, strangely, the same: a justification for genocide. 

Think about 9/11 and the kind of shock and terror we felt. That is what Israelis feel today. That is the level of devastation Israel is now experiencing. 

We are left with so many questions:

How did this happen?

Who is to blame for this catastrophic security failure? 

How will Israel respond? How will the country save the hostages in Gaza? 

What was the extent of Iran’s involvement in this sophisticated operation? 

Will this change the Biden administration’s policy toward the Islamic Republic? 

And so many more.

Those are the questions that require answers. But for today, while others offer mealy-mouthed pablum, we want to do something simple: to tell the truth—plainly—about a catastrophic day.

We’ll have much more reporting for you in the coming days. We’re going to work hard to give you the kind of independent, honest journalism you expect from The Free Press. So if you believe in our work, please, support us by becoming a paid subscriber today:

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Herewith, three essays from a nation at war. The first, by Noah Pollak, explains why today was Israel’s 9/11—and urges us not to avert our eyes from evil. The second, by 20-year-old Arad Fruchter, is a first-person account of his encounter with Hamas terrorists in Israel’s southern desert. The third, by Rabbi Daniel Gordis, tells of a day that began with joyous singing at synagogue and ended with his son being called up to war. And on Honestly: a conversation with historian and former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren.

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