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The Gaza Storm and Yom Kippur

by Afzaal rehan
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Afzaal Rehan

On October 7, Hamas carried out an audacious attack inside Israel, leaving the world in awe and disbelief at how they managed to strike at Jewish communities. Some label it as Israel’s intelligence failure, while others attribute it to a Zionist state security lapse. A nation renowned for its technological prowess and an advanced missile system named “Iron Dome” appeared caught off guard, and even Mossad seemed unaware.

It was clear that Hamas had been diligently planning for this significant operation for months. They even constructed a mock village, simulating attacks while keeping it all under the radar. In a matter of hours, rockets began raining down all over Israel, with initial reports indicating around 5,000. According to later details, over 7,000 rockets struck Israeli populations. They targeted areas as far as Western Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and at times, they used sea-based paragliders to breach Israel’s airspace. Concrete walls crumbled, and iron defenses were breached. How did Israeli intelligence and sensitive defense agencies remain unaware of these developments?

The prevailing instability in Israeli politics, despite the experienced leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, might have caused institutional weaknesses over the past two years. It is evident that Hamas had not orchestrated such a significant operation recently. On the surface, it appeared they were looking to secure jobs for their people within Israel and maintain peaceful coexistence, creating a new sense of trust among Israelis. All of this had the Israeli population feeling more secure. However, the real and unexpected challenge lay elsewhere.

To understand the situation, we must recognize that in Jewish culture, “Yom Kippur” holds as much significance as Eid and Ramadan do in Islamic culture. Perhaps even more profound is the importance of “Aseret Yemei Teshuvah,” which is the ten days of repentance, culminating in Yom Kippur. The day Moses spent on Mount Sinai for 40 days, receiving the Ten Commandments and bringing them back to his people However, upon seeing his people engaged in idol worship, he became deeply troubled and sorrowful. Eventually, they sought God’s forgiveness for their shortcomings. This narrative is vital in Jewish culture, mirroring the acknowledgment of God’s forgiveness.

The holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur is observed in late September and early October. The day begins at sunset on a Friday and lasts until sunset on the following Saturday, lasting approximately 25 hours. Throughout Yom Kippur, Jewish people spend their time in synagogues or temples, reading the Torah, engaging in prayers, and seeking repentance. They gather in communal repentance and seek forgiveness from loved ones. The evening of Yom Kippur is marked by communal dinners and gatherings, featuring sumptuous meals.

While Arabs are unaware of the significance of Yom Kippur to the Jewish people, it is typically used as an opportune moment for surprise attacks during conflicts. The Yom Kippur War in 1973, which Hamas ominously referred to in their recent attack, altered the course of Israeli history. This war has a distinct place in Israeli history, and the world remembers it as the Yom Kippur War.

On the 50th anniversary of this war, Hamas struck inside Israel, using the element of surprise on Yom Kippur and the eve of Shabbat. As of the latest reports, the death toll of Jewish citizens has surpassed 1,100, with almost 3,000 wounded. Around 130 Palestinians have been taken as captives and transferred to Gaza.

The current Israeli crisis differs significantly from what Israel has experienced in recent decades. Innocent civilians, akin to swimmers, were targeted without any knowledge, making the ethics of this jihad questionable. Conversely, Hamas utilizes a scorched-earth strategy, targeting civilians, women, children, and ordinary citizens with rockets and missiles fired from populated areas. They hope that playing the victim card after the retaliation will create international sympathy.

The world is oblivious to the true significance of Yom Kippur for Jews, and the Palestinian card of pretending to be uninformed is being played. It is, therefore, crucial to consider that Israel may choose to observe Yom Kippur thoughtfully and with an understanding of the world. They might mark their holiest day with prayers, supplications, and repentance. It is believed that Israel’s future generations will remember their Yom Kippur observance in a world oblivious to its significance.

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