“I Hope My Mother is Kidnapped in Gaza”

Henrique Cymerman

5 mins - 9 de Octubre de 2023, 11:05

The Family Tracing Department. This was the name given in the late 1940s and early 1950s to the place in Israel where many Jews went every day to try to find their relatives who had disappeared in Europe during the years of the horrors that were the Holocaust. In the 1990s it was closed, but yesterday in Israel it was resurrected.

Last Wednesday I interviewed Vivian Silver, who heads the Israeli-Palestinian “Women for Peace” movement and lives on the Gaza border in Kibbutz Beeri. The 75-year-old Canadian-born Israeli, managed to bring together 1,500 Israeli and Palestinian women on 4 October in a massive peace rally in Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Vivian supports women friends in Gaza out of her own pocket so that their Palestinian friends lack nothing.

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Yesterday, as her son Jonathan searched for his mother’s name among the lists of hundreds of dead caused by Hamas infiltration, they sighed: “I hope mum is kidnapped in Gaza, at least then we’ll know she’s alive.”

Among the 200 or so abductees dragged by Hamas terrorists into the Gaza Strip, there are elderly people in wheelchairs, inhabitants of the border villages, children, and dozens of young people who were participating in a peace and music festival next to Kibbutz Re’im, where more than a thousand people were dancing in the dark during the early hours of the morning of the 7th of October. In the midst of the music, masked men from Hamas appeared out of the darkness and shot many of them on the spot. According to testimonies, they raped some of the girls and captured many young men, including Noa Argamani, who, according to videos released by Hamas itself, was screaming in terror: “Please don’t kill me, don’t kill me.”

Hundreds of Hamas suicide bombers managed to cross the border during the festival on the holiday of the Simchat Torah and also on Shabbat, making the nightmare of the area’s residents a reality.

“They are slitting our throats,” wrote residents of Sderot, a town next to Gaza, imploring “Where is the Tzahal?” as terrorists tried to break down the doors of their homes, firing in all directions. Outside, a Hamas “journalist” broadcast the hunt live. Entire families were massacred. Soldiers who tried to reach the site in a makeshift manner were killed in the fighting. Three veteran Kibbutz security officers fought with Hamas men until they ran out of ammunition, and parents tried to defend their children with kitchen knives.

Vivian Silver, who 3 days earlier was celebrating peace, wrote a WhatsApp to her friends: “They are breaking down the door of my house. I am hiding in the wardrobe. If I survive, I promise I will hide a big knife in my shelter. I can’t believe this is happening.” A minute later she said: “Please don’t call me, I need the battery.” From then on, he wrote no more.

Some say it is Israel’s “Pearl Harbour”, similar to the Japanese surprise attack on the United States in 1941. Others compare it to the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which the Israeli leadership ignored intelligence warnings that the Egyptians and Syrians might be preparing a simultaneous attack on Yom Kippur exactly 50 years ago.

The big surprise now is that Hamas managed to prepare such a detailed operation without Israeli intelligence having any clue. Hours before the attack, a former military intelligence chief, General (retd.) Aharon Zeevi Farkash, wrote a dire prophecy: “If we do not assimilate the lessons of the Egyptian deception in the Kippur War, we will be surprised again and caught unprepared.” 

The Israeli dilemma now is how far to take the “eye for an eye” approach in order to be prepared. No country in the world has ever had to face a situation where 3-year-old children and 80-year-old women have been abducted from their homes and taken to the Gaza tunnels. Many believe that the only alternative is to cut off the head of the snake and destroy the military infrastructure and leadership of the Iranian-dependent Islamist group. Many understand that if they do so, the price may be a generalised war in which some of Iran’s proxies, including the Lebanese group Hezbollah with its arsenal of 150,000 rockets, join the Islamist attacks.

Less than 3 weeks ago Hamas leader Salah Aruri, who lives in Turkey, met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and a senior Iranian officer of the Revolutionary Guards. The question is whether what we are witnessing is only the first phase of the so-called “Al Aqsa Flood”, which aims to use the Mosque in East Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam, to recruit the entire Muslim world. For Hamas, the possibility of more “Abraham Accords” between Israel and the Arab world, similar to those signed three years ago with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan, and especially the growing reports of rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, are its main nightmare, shared with its mentor Iran. Both Tehran and Gaza will do everything in their power to sink the possibility of peace, as part of the ‘Al Aqsa Flood’.

Several hours after contact with her was cut off, confirmation came through Tik Tok videos that Vivian is alive and among those kidnapped by Hamas in Gaza.

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