Israel At War FAQs

On October 7 the internationally proscribed Islamist terror organisation Hamas perpetrated the most horrific attack on Jews since the Holocaust, massacring over 1,200 people in southern Israel in the most barbaric manner imaginable: torturing families, mutilating children and adults, raping hundreds of Jewish girls and women of all ages, setting fire to people and desecrating bodies after the orgy of killing. Over 4,000 people were wounded and over 240 people: Israeli Jews, Israeli Muslims and Israeli Christians, guest workers and visitors, aged from 9 months to over 80 years, were abducted to Gaza. 

Map of the October 7 massacres

What happened at Kibbutz Be’eri

American journalist describes the footage he saw of Hamas’ atrocities

Sexual violence against women on October 7

Israel is fighting this war against Hamas primarily to free the hostages and bring them home, but also to remove the threat outlined by Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad on October 24, that Hamas will repeat October 7 “again and again until Israel is ‘annihilated”.

This statement was completely in line with Hamas’ charter, which states its genocidal intent: to eradicate the Jewish state and kill every Jew on the planet. The Charter states: “Israel will exist until Islam will obliterate it…the Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews and kill them.….so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).”  

Similarly, Israel is fighting to eliminate the threat posed by other Iranian proxy armies including Islamic Jihad from Gaza and Hezbollah from Lebanon, who have long attacked its people, currently rocketing the country and sending terrorists in to perpetrate further massacres in the style of Hamas.

Israel and most Western governments regard this war as parallel to the wars against ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and other Islamist terror organisations.

Mohammad Kabiya, an Arab citizen of Israel, described the situation in an interview with BBC Arabic on October 14.

According to international law, when a country faces a threat to its people, it may lawfully (and must morally) take all reasonable measures to protect them. What constitutes a ‘reasonable’ and ‘proportionate’ response can only be assessed in relation to the severity of the consequences if it does not take action.

A proportional response does not mean an equal or identical response. It does not mean an equal number of casualties on both sides. And the number of dead and wounded is no measure of morality – many times more German civilians were killed in WW2, but that does not imbue the Nazi side with the moral high ground in that conflict.  In the war against ISIS/Islamic State, it is estimated that almost 10,000 civilians were killed by the multi-national Western forces. Again there is no argument that ISIS was an enemy which had to be defeated by any means and at any cost.

A state’s military response should be proportionate to the credibility of the threat and the extent of the threat.

In the current case, Hamas has made that threat abundantly clear. Its Charter states that “Israel will exist until Islam will obliterate it” and that “the Day of Judgement will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”. It has translated this genocidal intent into action on numerous bloody occasions since its founding in 1987, on no occasion bloodier than October 7. And it has vowed to repeat that day over and over again

A proportional response to the clear, present and proven threat of ethnic cleansing and genocide and to the abduction of 240+ of a country’s infant, child, teenage, adult and elderly citizens is exactly the response Israel is making.

The horrific attack by Hamas on October 7, during which its terrorists massacred over 1,200 people in Southern Israel in the most heinous and barbaric ways including by rape, mutilation, beheadings and burning; wounded over 4,000 and abducted over 240 people aged from 9 months old to over 80 years – this attack was carried out by Hamas during a ceasefire.

Since it ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005, Israel has had to fight multiple wars against Hamas, including in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2021. Through all those years, every time Israel has agreed to a ceasefire, it has been broken by Hamas – at least 16 times.

Hamas has never respected ceasefires but has rather used them to regroup. So while the appeal of a ceasefire is understandable, a ceasefire will not bring peace for Israelis or Palestinians.

Israel’s fight against Hamas will continue until all the remaining hostages are found, liberated and returned home and until the capability of Hamas to perpetrate even one more attack against Israel and its people is destroyed.

Hamas refused a ceasefire offer just before Christmas.

Israel is targeting Hamas, not innocent Palestinian civilians. However Hamas has a long, well-documented and self-proclaimed history of using civilians as human shields.

Doing this and placing fighters, command centres and military headquarters in civilian areas including hospitals and schools turns those areas into legitimate military targets. This is a war crime and the EU has condemned Hamas for this practice.

Since the beginning of this war Israel has instructed Palestinians to evacuate for their own safety and has opened humanitarian corridors in Gaza so that they can. Hamas has blocked escape routes and even shot its own people as they try escape.

Every Hamas rocket attack against Israeli civilians is a war crime. Its abduction of civilians from over 40 nationalities from Southern Israel on October 7 is a crime against humanity, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The IDF continues to conduct the war against Hamas in keeping with international law, while making every effort to avoid the civilian casualties that Hamas intends. Here, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya explains why the blood of its own citizens is ‘necessary’.

All the sexual crimes committed by Hamas and their accomplices on and since October 7 against Israeli women, and the sexual violence now being documented as having been committed against Israeli men, are war crimes. Here the UN outlines Rape as a War Crime.

Overview of International Law and Operation Swords of Iron

The responsibility for the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza lies squarely with Hamas, as stated by Kuwaiti researcher Dr. Fahd Al-Shelaimi: “All the blood, all the dead children, and demolished homes are on Haniyeh and his entourage.”

After Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005, Gazans elected Hamas to lead them in 2006. But Hamas does not lead in a manner familiar to people in the West or in almost any other part of the world.  As  Egyptian journalist Ibrahim Eissa said on October 18, “Hamas considers Palestinian lives cheap.”

On October 27 in an interview on Russian RT TV, Mousa Abu Marzouk, a member of the Hamas Political Bureau was asked why Hamas has used its resources (including billions in foreign aid) to build tunnels for its fighters and not infrastructure or shelters for its people. He declared, incredibly, that since the majority of Gazans are ‘refugees’, the responsibility for their safety lies with the UN.

This CNN report covers many of the issues relating to Hamas’ attitude to the suffering of Palestinians during this war.

In January the official spokesman of ISIS, Abu Hudhayfa Al-Ansarir, issued a statement condemning Hamas for sacrificing the Palestinian people on the altar of “Iran’s regional project”.

Gaza is no longer occupied by either Israel or Egypt.

It was under the control of Egypt from 1948 to 1967, after Egypt took the territory during Israel’s War of Independence. Egypt now maintains a land border with Gaza at the Rafah Crossing, between the Gaza Strip and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. This crossing serves as a key entry and exit point for people and goods.

In the 1967 ‘Six Day War’, Israel captured the Gaza Strip (and the entire Sinai Peninsula) from Egypt, but in a ‘Land For Peace’ deal, returned the Sinai to Egypt in 1982. Egypt refused to take back the Gaza Strip at the time, apparently not wanting responsibility for the Palestinians living there.

So from 1967 until 2005 the Gaza Strip was occupied by Israel. During this period there was some economic development in the Strip and there were relationships between Israelis and Gazan Palestinians, some of them warm. But there was also conflict and a military occupation that cost both Palestinian and Israeli lives. In 2005 the Israeli government took the decision to unilaterally withdraw all its soldiers and settlers from Gaza, in the hope that they could live in peace alongside a new self-governed Palestinian entity. The end of occupation in Gaza was also a test case for the potential end of occupation of most of the West Bank.

What it proved was that ending the occupation would not bring peace – in fact the opposite. In 2006 the Islamist terror group Hamas was elected to govern Gaza. Hamas’ Charter states that “Israel will exist until Islam obliterates it” and that “so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement”. Hamas is no partner for peace, and has no interest in a two-state solution or any solution other than an Islamic Caliphate ethnically cleansed of every last Jew. 

In 2007 in a bloody coup, Hamas ousted the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority from Gaza, killing all internal opponents, and embarking on a campaign of terror incursions and rocket fire against Israel that continues to this day. 

As a result of Hamas’ aggression and after intercepting Iranian arms shipments being brought into Gaza by land and sea, both Israel and Egypt imposed blockades on Gaza in an effort to stop the smuggling of weapons. As early as 2009 Egypt began work on a steel wall deep into the earth to stop the smuggling of weapons, drugs and people.

Both Egypt and Israel have long recognised the threat posed by the genocidal jihadist government of the Gaza Strip which sits between their two countries. Both have imposed a blockade on Gaza in defence of their people and have cooperated to fight the same Islamic extremism posed by ISIS in the Sinai.

Despite the blockade of Gaza to prevent the import of weapons, before October 7 Israel had never blocked the flow of humanitarian traffic and aid through its Kerem Shalom crossing, open 24/7. Until October 6, 2023 every weekday approximately 17,000 Palestinian workers and business people from Gaza were also moving in and out of Israel through its Erez crossing. Evidence has since been uncovered that many of those workers were in fact collecting intelligence which was used in the October 7 attack.

It is both unfair that many have demonised Israel for imposing the same blockade on Gaza that Egypt has, and for the same reason; and unfortunate that the world has not taken heed of Hamas’ own Charter and repeated statements of its intentions and the threat it poses to the whole world, such as this one made on November 3

There is pervasive misinformation circulating that alleges Israel is targeting medical facilities and ambulances in an illegal and indiscriminate fashion. Here are the facts.

November 12 Interrogation of Hamas operative 1 apprehended by Israel 

November 12 Interrogation of Hamas operative 2 apprehended by Israel 

One of the classic antisemitic tropes is the blood libel – that Jews are bloodthirsty killers of non-Jewish children (and adults). Read more about the history of this libel here. In modern times this form of antisemitism has been expressed through false and repeated claims that Israel targets Palestinian children, harvests the organs of Palestinian prisoners and commits genocide against the Palestinian people as a whole.

As with all antisemitism, there is neither truth nor any logic this claim. Israel is one of the most technologically, militarily and medically advanced nations on earth, and if it wished to commit a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza would be able to do so easily.

The facts about Palestinian population growth reveal the exact opposite:

In 1967 Israel conquered the Gaza Strip and all of the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the Six Day War, a defensive war prompted by the genocidal threats against Israelis from Egypt’s President Nasser. When Israel first occupied Gaza after that war (because at the Khartoum Conference in August the Arab states refused to accept back the territories of Sinai, Gaza and parts of the West Bank in exchange for peace), the Palestinian population there was around 442,100, according to the UN.

By the time Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005, it was 1,299,000. So under Israeli occupation, the Palestinian population increased 194%. The population is now estimated at 2,098,389 (CIA world fact book), which represents another 61.5% increase in population.

If Israel has been attempting a genocide in Gaza it has failed miserably.

Incidentally, Gaza once had a sizable Jewish community with a history going back 3,000 years. Most of the Jews living in Gaza fled during the 1929 Palestine Riots, which took the form of murderous attacks by Arabs on Jews and the destruction of Jewish property. By 1945 there were only 80 Jews left in the city.

After 1967 Jews returned and established thriving agricultural and other businesses, all of which were abandoned when Israel pulled out all 8,000 of its people and its soldiers in 2005. After 2005 there were no Jews in Gaza – until October 7 when approximately 240 Jews were abducted from Israel and forcibly taken there by Hamas terrorists. Many were stripped, spat on and paraded around the streets and their whereabouts and condition are currently unknown.

Charging Jews with genocide

If everything is about genocide, nothing is genocide

Despite the overwhelming evidence from multiple sources – first and foremost video taken by the  perpetrators – and despite the international call to #BelieveHer, it seems that some people do not believe Jewish women and girls about the rape and sexual violence to which they were subjected by Hamas and their accomplices on October 7. 

However, in addition to admissions made by the Hamas terrorists captured by Israel, the crimes have been detailed in multiple reports including:

Trigger Warning: First Hamas fighters raped her. Then they shot her in the head.

Newsweek: Hamas Is Reportedly Using Rape as Warfare. Where Are the Feminists?

CNN: Israel investigates sexual violence committed by Hamas as part of October 7 horror and video ‘Not just killed, cruelly mutilated’: Witness describes assault of women on Oct. 7

Boston Globe: Israeli women and girls were raped during Hamas attack. Where’s the outcry?

It took seven weeks for UN Women to acknowledge the sexual violence committed against Jewish and Israeli women and girls on 7 October. The long absence of empathy with, condemnation of and even adequate mention of the specific, deliberately targeted crimes against Jews and Israelis has been deeply traumatic for Jewish women everywhere.  

As one Australian Jewish feminist has written, “They have colluded in the silence around these atrocities and in this way, like bystanders, have compounded the trauma. Feminist organizations have replicated the structures of patriarchal oppression in their approach to what happened to Jewish women on 7 October by:

  • Silencing and erasure 
  • Disbelief and asking for proof of rape (failure to believe a victim is regarded as a patriarchal tactic to discredit women and erase their experiences, but added to that implying that Jewish women are liars / cannot be believed / have fabricated these accounts as ‘Zionist propaganda’)
  • Refusing to name and acknowledge the atrocities (because they are regarded as part of the Palestinian liberation struggle and so the acts are ‘acceptable, and not-so-bad-really’ – the ‘end justifies the means’. The violation of Jewish women’s bodies is a means to a more important end.)
  • Demonizing and dehumanizing Jewish/Israeli women, as not belonging to the family of women (their ‘womanness’ and their desecrated female bodies have been erased because of their Jewishness and association with a reviled Israel. The women are seen as part of the supposed patriarchal oppressive colonial state of Israel and its powerful IDF – falling prey to the very ideas they refute, which is that women are not owned or do not belong to men or male power structures and that one aspect of identity ie being Jewish, erases or trumps others,such as being a woman).

International women’s organizations have exposed a George Orwellian hypocrisy (all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others):  they condemn sexual violence against women, as long as they are not Jewish/Israeli women.”

In an attempt to fight back against this silence, Israel launched a campaign titled #MeTooUnlessUrAJew.

Finally, on January 8, UN Experts demanded accountability.

On October 7 the internationally proscribed Islamist terror organisation Hamas perpetrated the most horrific attack on Jews since the Holocaust, massacring over 1,200 people in southern Israel in the most barbaric manner imaginable: torturing families, mutilating children and adults, raping hundreds of Jewish girls and women of all ages, setting fire to people and desecrating bodies after the orgy of killing. Over 4,000 people were wounded and over 240 people: Israeli Jews, Israeli Muslims and Israeli Christians, guest workers and visitors, aged from 9 months to over 80 years, were abducted to Gaza. At the time of writing approximately 130 hostages remain in Gaza, including the youngest, now one-year old Kfir Bibas.

Israel’s fight against Hamas will continue until all of the 240+ hostages are found, liberated and returned home and until the capability of Hamas to perpetrate even one more attack against Israel and its people is destroyed.

Survived to Tell Testimony Project

October 7 Survivor Stories

Mothers speak about the hostages and the murdered 

“I went through hell”: What the released hostages say about their captivity

This section coming soon, but meanwhile please follow COGAT for daily updates.