Opinion: United States must stand by Israel in its hour of need

The world watched with horror as hundreds of Hamas terrorists breached Israeli territory to slaughter Israeli civilians on Oct. 7. They killed no fewer than 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped more than 100. President Joe Biden confirmed that 14 Americans are among the dead, and at least 20 others are unaccounted for.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to exact a price on Hamas "with force never seen before." Israel has reached a moment of reckoning. The United States must stand in unwavering solidarity with the Jewish state as it faces evil head-on.

As evidence of Hamas' rampage continues to surface, the extent of the group's brutality becomes more shocking: families gunned down in their homes, teenagers murdered at a music festival, and bodies desecrated and paraded through the streets. News broke last week that Hamas infiltrated a kibbutz near the border and killed children. There can be no excuses for such barbarism, which violates international law.

Calls for "de-escalation and cease-fire" amount to requesting impunity for the perpetrators of mass murder. Israel must be allowed maximum freedom of action to defend itself and prevent atrocities.

Israel's detractors will say that Hamas is resisting Israeli occupation. Gaza, however, is not occupied. Israel seized Gaza from Egypt in 1967's Six-Day War; in 2005, Israel withdrew and turned it over to the Palestinian Authority. In 2007, after two years of violent clashes with its Palestinian rivals — some of whom it executed by throwing off buildings — Hamas assumed control of the Gaza Strip.

When Hamas is not firing rockets at Israeli communities, Israel provides electricity to Gaza and allows humanitarian goods to reach the civilian population. True, Israeli measures are in place to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas. But evidently, these measures are not foolproof.

Israel's detractors will, no doubt, put Israel's conduct in the days and weeks ahead under a microscope, looking for any way to paint victims as perpetrators. Some did not wait for evidence. At Harvard, for example, while Hamas gunmen were still murdering civilians, 31 student organizations held Israel "entirely responsible for the unfolding violence." Another group at George Washington University expressed "unwavering support for our people's resistance in all its forms," as if shooting elderly Israelis were heroic. On social media, accusations of Israeli "war crimes" and "disproportionate" action are starting to circulate.

Defending the slaughter of civilians is inexcusable. And siding with terrorists bent on annihilating the Jewish people is nothing short of antisemitic. Moreover, Hamas routinely uses its people as human shields and places military targets next to or under schools and other civilian institutions. So, as Israel pursues military action in Gaza, the Palestinian death count will rise. The United States must hold steadfast to the truth: Hamas, backed by Tehran, is responsible for the forthcoming bloodshed.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah has thousands of missiles ready to strike northern Israel. If Tehran gives the go-ahead, Israel could soon face a two-front war. Iranian proxies in Syria, Iraq and Yemen are eager to join the fight. Hamas is also calling on Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank to mobilize to "shake the ground beneath the feet" of the Jewish state.

To his credit, Biden has expressed steadfast support for Israel in this historic moment. It is imperative that Washington stays the course. The United States cannot abandon its loyal ally under such senseless evil. Buckling would be nothing short of shameful.

Natalie Ecanow is a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.

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