Our friend Stuart Schnee shared a Zoom conference with family and friends to tell what its been like the past few days in Israel. He shared how much it means to people in Israel to know that we are there for them and supporting them. Our whole community is davening, and davening for a quick end to this horror!
He stated that his wife Sharon said that she heard a siren on Shabbos morning. At that point, he went to shul and heard some men standing outside, talking. They told him that something big was going on, but they had no details.
Stuart related that Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005, and the residents there elected Hamas in 2006. Israel pulled out 10,000 Israelis and destroyed 21 Jewish communities at that time.
He noted that the time of this attack was exactly 50 years and one day after the Yom Kippur War. That war had an intelligence failure, and this time there was also a big intelligence failure. This past year, there were things heating up in Judah and Samaria [Yehudah and Shomron], but Gaza was quiet. This was part of the trick. The fence Israel built was bulldozed by Hamas.
“We’ve heard really terrible stories from communities taken over by Hamas,” he shared. The small kibbutz called Be’eri has one of the biggest print operations in Israel. Ten percent of the people in the kibbutz were killed on Shabbos. That was over 100 people, and 40 of them were infants. We as Westerners find it hard to understand how people could do this. Eight hundred Israelis have been killed. He spoke about the young Israelis massacred at a music festival. Again, hundreds were killed.
He shared how Facebook is flooded with funeral notices. “My contemporaries have kids in the army, and we have a list of soldiers’ names on the fridge that we are praying for.” He added that 1,500 Hamas terrorists have been killed.
The Israeli Air Force is currently bombing Gaza. This bombing is different. Before, they bombed empty warehouses. Israel is always careful to warn civilians with text messages that they will bomb and gives them directions where to go for safety. He shared that Israel is getting more sympathy now and hasn’t had this since the Six-Day War.
Israel is matching reporters with Israelis. They brought Western reporters to Kibbutz Be’eri to see the horrible carnage and destruction caused by Hamas.
Close to 400,000 reserves have been called up by the Israel Defense Forces. There were shortages of toiletries and food, because men and women were called and they rushed out of their houses. Reservists are training and getting prepared. We assume they are getting ready to go into Gaza. The Air Force is bombing to get rid of hidden traps. Hashem should help! Over 100 Israelis were kidnapped, including infants, toddlers, and grandmothers. One woman whom they took is 85 years old; they kidnapped her along with her aide.
Stuart shared that everyone in Israel is connected. A big strategic question is what Hezbollah will do in the North. They are well-trained. They have upwards of 130,000 precision-guided missiles. They have already launched some missiles into Israel. President Assad of Syria and his wife went into hiding, which could mean that Hezbollah is ready to join the war. Then, G-d forbid, we will have a two-front war.
He said that everyone was walking around depressed. It was so unbelievable. It’s painful to know the truth. Forty babies were killed in Kibbutz Be’eri in Holocaust-style atrocities.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is meeting with Beny Gantz, and his Blue and White party is going to join the new National Unity Government. There will be an announcement tonight. Right now, there is no divisiveness. Everyone is in green, fighting for Israel. It is sad to see that we can get together only when something bad happens.
He shared that the number of volunteers is dizzying. His daughter baked brownies, but they will have to be frozen, as the IDF is turning away food since there was so much donated. People are also sending equipment of all kinds. There is a real outpouring of support in many ways. The schools are currently closed because thousands of rockets were launched by Hamas and other terror groups at Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Tel Aviv, among many other population centers.
We are all davening and begging Hashem to bring the y’shuah to end this and bring shalom to klal Yisrael. Thank you, Stuart and Sharon Schnee, for sharing a view from Israel of what is going on. Hashem should keep klal Yisrael safe!
By Susie Garber