On Saturday morning, the 7th of October, Hamas and Gazan civilians penetrated into Israel from the Gaza Strip and committed a massacre in the Israeli kibbutzim and towns in the Gaza Envelope. Whole families – including babies, children, and elderly people – were murdered and brutally butchered. Children, women, and elderly people were kidnapped into the Gaza Strip. There are many families who do not know the fate of their loved ones, even now, more than 4 months after the event. In this post, I’ll keep you updated with the most important things to know about the Israel-Hamas War. I will also share some ways you can support Israel in this difficult time.
What happened on Saturday morning (7 October 2023)?
Saturday morning was one of our holiest holidays, the Simchat Torah holiday, which comes at the end of Sukkot. At 6:30 AM, hundreds of Hamas terrorists and vicious citizens of Gaza broke down the border fence and penetrated into Israel on Jeeps, motorcycles, paragliders, and by sea on boats and by scuba diving. They started by attacking the bases next to the border and then continued to the civilian kibbutzim and towns in the Gaza Envelope and beyond. They were equipped with detailed maps that showed each town they entered, dozens of weapons of all sorts – including RPGs – and supplies of food, since they planned to stay in Israel for a long time and penetrate even deeper into the country. They had no mercy in the civilian areas – killed families, burned people alive in their houses, raped, and kidnapped over 240 Israelis and non-Israelis into Gaza Strip. Over 1,000 people were killed in the attack.
To learn more about Hamas and its way of working – I recommend reading “Son of Hamas,” a book written by the son of one of the leaders of Hamas.
In response to the attack, Israel launched airstrikes in Gaza and sent soldiers to protect the civilian areas near the border. It took over five days to cleanse the civilian areas from terrorists.
Here’s a video telling this story of Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the kibbutzim that was attacked:
And here’s a testimony of a survivor from the music festival, where over 200 were murdered:
What happened after 7 October?
Here’s a summary of the main events that happened after the 7th of October 2023:
- IDF forces entered the Gaza Strip on the 28th of October with two targets: to rescue the Israeli captives and to destroy Hamas, so it would no longer threaten Israel.
- 105 Israeli and foreign hostages were freed during a temporary ceasefire at the end of November. 136 hostages are still held captive in Gaza, some dead, some alive.
- 200 Palestinian prisoners were released from the Israeli prison as part of the ceasefire deal. Those prisoners include people who have thrown rocks, stabbed, and murdered Israelis.
- Around 330 thousand Israelis have evacuated from their homes in the south and the north due to the war. Many of them are still staying in hotels and have no home to return to. On the Gazan side, around 1 million have moved from their homes in the northern Gaza Strip to the southern part of the strip, until ground operation is over.
- Thousands of aid trucks have entered Gaza – with Israel’s approval – to support the humanitarian needs of the Gazans who have been evacuated from their homes.
- As of February 2024, the Red Cross have not met the Israeli hostages in Gaza and their condition is unknown.
- As of February 2024, most IDF forces have left the Gaza Strip, and Israel is issuing more focused operations.
- In the north, the terrorist organization Hezbollah is firing rockets at Israeli bases and settlements. Due to this, the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights have been declared a closed military zone, all civilians have been evacuated, and only those who must stay have stayed.
- In the south, the Houthis are sending once in a while rockets from Yemen to Eilat, but since those rockets travel a long distance, they are shot down by Israel before they get close to the city.
What is the current situation in Israel?
So, Israel is at war, but how is life away from the frontline?
People in Israel are trying to get back to their lives, but everyone is still a bit shaken. An important thing to understand is that in Israel, people see each other as family, even if you don’t really know one another. So, when more than 1,000 people were killed in one day – that was a big shock for us, and even a month later, there are still people who feel in constant grief, pain, and fear of existence.
Many people are volunteering around the country – sending packages to soldiers, helping the people who were evacuated from the south, and even helping the farmers in the agricultural fields because many foreign workers who used to work there have fled the country. So many people have volunteered to help, that many places have stopped their volunteer recruitment. There are enough people.
As of February 2024, many people have been freed from the army reserve duty. Some of them might be called back to duty in a few more weeks or months, depending on how things develop. People who are not volunteering and not serving are getting back to their regular jobs. Some workplaces are firing people because of the decline in the economy. Many leisure and tourism related companies are shutting down or minimizing their workpower because there are barely any tourists and many people don’t feel like it’s the time to go shopping, eating out, or doing anything connected to leisure.
That’s our life right now in Israel. We’re staying strong.
So what about travel to Israel?
Despite the war, it is possible to visit Israel right now, and I know that some people are doing it. There are some airlines that operate flights to and from Israel, including El-Al, Israir, Arkia, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airlines, FlyDubai, Swiss International Airlines, and Lufthansa. More airlines are to join this list in the next couple of months.
In central Israel – in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea – you barely feel the war anymore. Most places are open, and there are rarely any rocket attacks. So, if you want to do the classic tour of Israel, it’s quite possible. There are also much less tourists than usual, so you will probably not feel crowded. However, you do need to keep in mind that Israel is still at war, so anything can happen without prior notice.
The northern part of Israel is not so accessible right now. Most of the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights are closed military zones, so if you plan to visit those areas, you might prefer to postpone your trip. You can visit the Sea of Galilee, though.
How can you support Israel?
The people of Israel are amazing and have launched many fundraisers in order to help the people who need help. I will include only a few of the options because the list is endless.
Talk about it
First of all, the best and easiest way you can support our fight against this terror attack and the Hamas terrorists is by talking about it and spreading the word. Talk to your friends and family members, share the stories with them, and loudly say NO to terrorism. There are plenty of videos and content you can share that are constantly shared on various accounts, such as Israel’s account on Instagram, Hananya Naftali’s Instagram, and Yoseph Hadad’s Instagram. Of course, those people also have accounts on other social media platforms. Just search for them!
Believe me, we appreciate everyone who shares our voice around the world! It is heartwarming and very supportive.
Donate for a good cause
Another great way to support Israel is by donating to different causes connected to the war and its outcomes. Here are a few causes you can donate to:
- Donate to the kibbutzim that were attacked. 23 kibbutzim have suffered from this attack. Many of them were evacuated and destroyed. The Kibbutzim Movement has launched an emergency fundraiser to support the people in those kibbutzim and provide them with essential needs, temporary lodging, and mental health support. Send a donation on JGive.
- Donate food to the people of the Gaza Envelope. The Leket Israel association launched a fundraiser that will help provide the residents of the Gaza Envelope and Southern Israel with essential food in this difficult time of war. Send a donation on JGive.
- Donate to the IDF. Friends of the IDF have launched an emergency campaign to gather donations for the IDF soldiers, who are fighting in this war for a better future for Israel. Learn more about donation options on the FIDF website.
- Donate to ZAKA. ZAKA has taken an active part in the war, helping to identify bodies in the Gaza Envelope and bringing them to a proper burial. Lean more about donation options on the ZAKA website.
Travel to Israel and volunteer
I’ve already mentioned that traveling to Israel is possible. So, yes, traveling to Israel is a great way to support! By traveling to Israel, you support the local businesses that are struggling financially now. I’ve also heard of people who came to Israel to volunteer in the agricultural farms or anywhere else where they are needed. You can find an impressive list of volunteering opportunities in this excellent article by Israel21c.
Will keep you posted!