In 1980, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini began planting the seeds across the Middle East of a genocidal movement to destroy Israel. It is important to emphasize this fact because the context of Israel’s war against Hamas cannot be understood otherwise. Iran’s goal is to bring the entire Middle East under Islamist control, and Hamas is only one part of this strategy.
Iran is helped by the fact that Hamas and, unfortunately, the people of Gaza have never supported a “two-state solution.” They believe that Muslims must control all the land “from the river to the sea.” It must be purged of Jews and any semblance of democratic governance. This is nothing but an explicit call for genocide and tyranny.
On my trip to Israel last month, I made myself watch a 46-minute film of the horrors of Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre. I would rather not have seen it, but I felt it was my duty to do so. I will never be able to erase the images from my mind. Not even animals are capable of such things, only human beings at the lowest level of barbarism. I sincerely did not think any human could commit such atrocities.
Most hideous of all, perhaps, was that throughout those 46 minutes terrorists were shouting “Allahu Akbar”—God is great—again and again. What God, one wonders, would condone such violence? How can religion be exploited to deprive adherents of other religions of their lives in the most heinous way?
Geopolitics is much more complicated than the information flowing from tweets on social media, so I always prefer to be on the ground myself and draw my own conclusions, as I’ve done in other global conflicts. So, on Nov. 26, I landed at the eerily empty Ben-Gurion Airport. Thanks to the European Leadership Network (ELNET), which organized this trip, I and other European parliamentarians got to see the reality on the ground.
We saw confiscated Hamas weapons, including those manufactured in North Korea, Iran and in Gaza itself. The IDF confiscated 50,000 such weapons from Hamas terrorists, which is enough to commit acts of terror for weeks.
The harsh realities of that terror became evident to me when, hours later, we stood among the wreckage of the cars from the Nova festival—site of some of the worst Hamas atrocities. There were some 800 destroyed vehicles, shot up and incinerated, many while they still had people inside driving to their deaths.
Even worse was my visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza. There, we met Yula and her son returning to the kibbutz for the first time since the attack. Yula survived by hiding with her children in a drawer under the bed while Hamas terrorists entered her home and set it on fire. Yula’s family tried to flee the fire, only to be met with terrorists outside their home, so they instinctively ran back into the inferno to escape via a back room. For seven hours they hid in a warehouse until the IDF rescued them. They had come to see if they might find a few of the boy’s toys among the ashes, but there was nothing more than a few UNO cards. Yula’s son gave me one as a thank you for listening to his story.
My trip coincided with the brief ceasefire and hostage exchange. My conversations with parents of victims and hostages were indescribable. What they are experiencing now is literally hell on earth. They ask: Is my child still alive? Will I ever see him or her again? There were endless, heartbreaking, tormenting questions.
Eyal Waldman, a leading Israeli entrepreneur who supported Palestinian employment in Israel, told us that the bodies of his daughter and her boyfriend were only identified two days after the attack.
I visited some of the victims at Sourasky Medical Center. The word “poignant” took on a new meaning for me. I’ll spare you the details. I was struck by the fact that the underground parking lots had been transformed into additional hospital space in order to help citizens in need. Things were different at the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, which the media rushed to accuse Israel of attacking and killing 500 people. The truth was that an errant rocket fired from within Gaza landed in the parking lot and killed 15 people.
The media ignores fact-checking in favor of fueling tensions. Tensions that were palpable in demonstrations around the world. I could not help but notice that, much in contrast to their opponents, the pro-Israel demonstrations occur without hate speech or violence. The hatred in the eyes of the anti-Israel militants at these mob events worries me deeply. It makes me wonder: Are the Gazans really living in the “largest open-air prison”? If they are, why are they not taken in by other Muslim countries? Why is the border with Egypt hermetically sealed? If it is a prison, it is of their making. And in this hothouse of terror, Gazans are educated from childhood to hate Jews and deny Israel’s right to exist.
This leads me to the topic of funding: The E.U. has already given 100 million euros in humanitarian aid to Gaza. The U.N. gives $600 million a year. Even more cash comes from Iran and Qatar. A billion dollars in annual donations can buy a lot of cement for buildings and civilian infrastructure. Instead, it’s pumped into a web of underground tunnels. It is obvious that, had the billions in aid to Gaza been used as intended, Gaza would be another Tel Aviv.
Nobody wants innocents to die in war. My thoughts go out to the Palestinian civilians who did not choose this war and are themselves quasi-hostages of Hamas. But it does frighten me that 80% of the Palestinian population supports Hamas. I quote Kfar Aza resident Yula: “There can and will be peace, if they don’t want to kill us.”
A ceasefire is desirable for and by all, but not unconditionally. We must also ask whether it is enough for Europe to proscribe the military branch of Hamas while tolerating its political arm. Would we do the same for Islamic State?
Israel, after this unforeseen cowardly attack, has the right to defend itself and get its hostages back. It should also be prudent and make Gaza a safe place. The danger emanating from the Middle East must be reduced to zero. Step one is to eliminate Hamas.
Make no mistake: I am in the peace camp. I support democracy and coexistence. But anyone who disparages Israel after Oct. 7 opens the door for another Oct. 7 anywhere in the world.