Photo Credit: ccl 2.0

As we are approaching the six months mark since the massacre and kidnappings committed by Hamas on October 7, 2023, Israelis are more conflicted than ever about the ongoing war, and world criticism is at its highest so far.

An Israeli friend remarked that she felt ashamed of the accidental killing of seven World Central Kitchen volunteers in Gaza by the Israel Defense Forces. Many Israelis are expressing anger that Benjamin Netanyahu is still the prime minister. Many are also upset that Hamas is still operating in Gaza. And of course, there is widespread concern about the hostages still held by Hamas.


One can imagine that this is largely how Hamas was hoping that events would unfold, that Israel would be vilified by many while Israelis would turn on each other.

But Hamas has not yet won this war, and Israel has not yet lost. In fact, the chances that Hamas will ever control Gaza again seem slim at this point despite all the difficulties that Israel is facing. The war will continue under this government and maybe another and if necessary, perhaps yet another. Because while Israelis may disagree on many things, it is hard to find any Israeli who believes that going back to the way things were on October 6 is a viable option.

But despite all the anger, all the angst, and all the sorrow, Israelis should also feel a lot of pride.

Israelis are living through the most complex and the most trying times of their history so far, and yet they have achieved a lot, and they continue to achieve a lot every day.

Israelis have the world against them, including its media, and armies of lawyers, politicians, and diplomats. Most of the world wants Israel to fail, and it is putting obstacles on its path at every opportunity.

And yet, not only is Israel dismantling Hamas, but it is also weakening Hezbollah and even the Iranian regime, and it is doing that while maintaining a level of professionalism and ethics that is unparalleled by anyone else at any time in history.

José Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen, wrote, “Israel is better than the way this war is being waged. It is better than blocking food and medicine to civilians. It is better than killing aid workers who coordinate their movements with the IDF.”

Andrés is correct about one thing, which is that Israel is indeed “better”. Israel is better than any other country would be in such circumstances. One only needs look at how the United States, France, and Britain have conducted wars in the past, not to mention the way Russia is currently conducting its illegal war against Ukraine.

But Andrés is wrong to imply that because Israel is usually better than others then it should be held to a higher standard than others.

Mistakes happen in a war. Horrible and heartbreaking mistakes, as was the case for the seven WCK volunteers, happen in a war. The only way to avoid all mistakes is not to conduct a war, and that is not an option after the horrific acts that Hamas committed on October 7.

To suggest that all humanitarian aid must be conducted in a perfect and exemplary way simply because “Israel is better than this” is ridiculous. Israel has the obligation to put a reasonable effort towards humanitarian aid, which it is certainly doing, but it also has an obligation towards its own citizens to defend them. It is not possible for Israel to defend itself while taking no risks, especially in Gaza. Andrés and others should remember that this war would not have occurred at all if it wasn’t for Hamas’ actions, and the WCK volunteers would not have died.

Hamas set up Gaza to be a death trap for Israeli soldiers. It also set it up so that destroying Hamas’ infrastructure and killing or capturing its terrorists would carry a high risk of collateral damage against non-combatants. Terrorists are underground all over Gaza, they are in hospitals, they are in schools, and they are dressed up as civilians. For Andrés to suggest that Israel could somehow conduct this war flawlessly is absurd and even an insult to the reader’s intelligence.

The obvious indications that Israel is being careful is the length of the war and the number of Israeli soldiers killed or injured in Gaza. So far in the Gaza ground operation, 256 soldiers have been killed and 1,549 soldiers have been injured. If Israel had used brute force that ignored civilian casualties, it is obvious that the war would have been much shorter, and the number of soldiers killed or injured would have been much lower. Israeli soldiers are literally dying to protect Gaza civilians and aid workers.

From the start of the war, Israel has been pressured to meet two contradictory objectives: finish the war quickly and avoid civilian casualties. Because Israel respects life and the rules of war, it has put a priority on the second objective. Now that the war is dragging on, there is pressure on Israel to end the war prematurely, but that would be the worst possible decision since it would ensure that Hamas remains strong in Gaza, which would guarantee more wars in the future.

So, the war will continue. The worst of the war may not even yet be over. But while the resolve of Israelis is being tested every day, their will is not broken.

Israelis should be proud of their achievements so far. They should be proud that they accomplished them while respecting the rules of war, especially since Israel’s enemies never do. They should be proud of their resilience, especially when the world wants them to break. They should be proud that their democracy is still alive and stronger than ever, especially since their leaders are vilified by the world simply for being their leaders.

I am certainly proud to support Israel.

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Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and he supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities, including Palestinians, can co-exist in peace with each other and with Israel, and where human rights are respected.