The horror in the Middle East continues. The medieval barbarism that was long considered inconceivable in the twenty-first century has re-emerged. Babies are being murdered. Entire families are being slaughtered. Women and children are being kidnapped. Unthinkable crimes against humanity are being committed and televised. Sixth century atrocities are being documented using modern technology. We can see this is truly happening, but we are left wondering how and why. 

How could this attack on one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world been launched undetected? Who provided the resources necessary to arm, equip, and train more than a thousand men bursting out of Gaza and into the living rooms, kindergartens, and music festivals of unarmed Israeli men, women, and children? What was the aim of this assault on nonmilitary targets, other than to ignite a war that will consume the Middle East and potentially obliterate Gaza and annihilate its occupants?

Over the past year, the bickering in the Israeli government over who would be in charge has been more strident than in most prior years. One must wonder whether this internal animosity distracted the government from its primary role of protecting the population from the enemies surrounding it.  One must wonder if our own nation has been distracted by its own political divisions and discord over the past three years and faces the same vulnerability that Israel discovered it faced on October 7, 2023. Revelations about top-secret documents being concealed in lavatories in Florida and discussions with billionaires about sensitive documents and military plans should have elicited outrage by Americans of all political views, but such indiscretions elicited little more than a tiresome yawn from many Americans and convoluted defenses from political leaders who should have been outraged by these security breaches.

The forces that attacked the children of Israel came from Gaza but were obviously not concerned about the children of Gaza. The atrocities committed by these thugs went beyond any military objectives.  They were unmitigated hate crimes perpetrated against the most vulnerable individuals.  If a similar attack had been launched against American enclaves, our government would have predictably responded with acts of unprecedented destructiveness targeting any and every location possibly harboring these terrorists or their enablers.

That Israel will respond in the same way to sites in Gaza that are believed to harbor or provide support for these terrorists is self-evident. That these murderers must have expected and in fact were motivated by a desire to elicit such a horrific response from the nation they attacked is equally self-evident.  The assault on Israel was expected to provoke the annihilation of Gaza. The more than two million residents of Gaza were intended to be the ultimate victims of the atrocities committed by these Hamas gunmen disguised as soldiers. Hamas’ mission was to wake and infuriate the sleeping giant that lay next to Gaza. That giant, Israel, has been severely wounded and will respond with a fury that may have never before been seen in the Middle East. We must hope the chaos unleashed on October 7 does not grow into a global conflict.

Unfortunately, we have generously armed many of the nations that are likely to join alliances intent upon destroying Israel.  The former President boasted of selling billions of dollars worth of cutting-edge military equipment to the Saudi Arabian monarchy. With that equipment comes technical expertise that was presumably disseminated to other Middle Eastern dictatorships. As we saw on September 11, 2001, when almost exclusively Saudi Arabian terrorists killed thousands of Americans, many of the most powerful and wealthy citizens of Saudi Arabia are not friends of the United States.  Israel is recognized as an intelligence asset of the United States by its neighbors, and harm inflicted on Israel is harm inflicted on the United States.

The noncombatant residents of Gaza have been chosen by Hamas to be sacrificial lambs. They will undoubtedly suffer tens of thousands of casualties and billions of dollars worth of structural and infrastructure damage as Israeli forces try to wipe out Hamas and rescue any surviving hostages. Inevitably, this massive retaliation for the carnage inflicted on Israelis will elicit outrage in many nations already hostile to the survival of Israel.  The already muted empathy for the suffering in Israel will quickly dissipate and antisemitism and anti-American rhetoric will mushroom. Other terrorists, including the Iranian-backed armies of Hezbollah, are likely to join in the assault on Israel and ignite a much larger war, a war that could include a massive increase in terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States.

Hamas and its enablers spent a great deal of time and money on planning and executing this murder and kidnapping spree. Instead of working to improve the lot of the people in Gaza, they decided to use them and the hostages they have taken as human shields to frustrate retaliation. Failing that, they obviously hope to maximize the horrific toll that will be suffered by the people of Gaza as Israel tries to eradicate a movement established to undermine Israeli security, a movement intent upon enlisting Middle Eastern armies in a campaign to destroy the nation of Israel.

The United Nations created the state of Israel as a safe haven for millions of people who faced extermination during World War II.  These people were targeted then on the bases of their religion and their ancestry. That nation created by the United Nations has become one of America’s closest allies. Its enemies are our enemies. The terrorists that attacked Israel and that now hide behind the innocents in Gaza will surely focus their venom on the United States if they succeed in destroying Israel. We need Israel’s survival and friendship as much as they need ours.

Dr. Lechtenberg is an Easton resident who graduated from Tufts University and Tufts Medical School in Massachusetts and subsequently trained at The Mount Sinai Hospital and Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan.  He worked as a neurologist at several New York Hospitals, including Kings County and The Long Island College Hospital, while maintaining a private practice, teaching at SUNY Downstate Medical School, and publishing 15 books on a variety of medical topics. He worked in drug development in the U.S., as well as in England, Germany, and France.

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