From Israel: “When Will It End??”

Should we even ask this question now (no matter our longing), when we are still very far from the end of this war with Hamas?  

We have been told that we should expect it to go on for months yet, and perhaps even through all of 2024, although at a reduced pace. The last few days have been heavy, reminding us of how much there is yet to deal with.


Be sure, the people of Israel remain strong and determined.  We will see it through.  We WANT to see it  through – no one more than the soldiers themselves. We MUST see it through, and we know it. Our mettle is extraordinary.

Credit: IDF

Inevitably, we pay a toll, measured in terms of sadness, anger and anxiety, which we simply live with.  

Our chief joy, a joy that sustains us, is the way in which we reach out to each other, with acts of kindness, sharing and giving.  See more on this at the end of this post.


I am eager to report on an excellent conference sponsored by the Sovereignty Movement last Thursday.  Hopefully I will be able to look at it in some detail soon (here I may touch upon it briefly).  But as the last few days have been particularly tough, there is much to address first.


Sunday marked 100 days since the beginning of the war with Hamas, which began with the horrific massacre in communities close to the Gaza border.  

The focus was on the hostages, who were kidnapped that day and remain in captivity in horrendous conditions.  Around the country, rallies were held; in Tel Aviv there was a 24-hour vigil, attended by some 120,000 in the opening hours, in spite of cold and rain.  

Credit: Moti Milord

The calculation is that Hamas is holding 136 hostages, but it is a certainty that some of them, perhaps many, are dead.  

There is a cry by some that the hostages must be freed NOW, and I want to address this.  

Rotem Kalderon, the son of hostage Ofer Kalderon, for example, said the government must prioritize releasing the captives: “What kind of world do we live in where revenge comes before the hostages? This war cannot come at our expense.”


My heart hurts for every one of the relatives, tortured by worry about a loved one in captivity.  But I most respectfully take strenuous issue with Rotem’s position:

The war is not a war of “revenge,” but an existential war to ensure our continued, safe existence here.  If we don’t finish Hamas, then the terrorists will come at us again and far more than 136 people would die.

What is more, there is no guarantee that the hostages who are still alive would be released if we were to stop attacking.  Minister of Defense Gallant says the only way to secure their release is if we continue to apply military pressure on Hamas.   


Credit: Elad Malcah


Hamas, which is very skilled at psychological warfare, released a video of three hostages,  Noa Argamani, Yossi Sharabi and Itay Svirsky, and then subsequently announced that two of them, the men, were dead.

Credit: Screenshot

There are reports of negotiations for release of hostages, but nothing concrete.  Doctors are most concerned about the women, some of whom may be pregnant as a result of rape. This is a nightmare scenario: The doctors are talking about doing abortions as quickly as possible because it would be unbearable for these woman to carry the children of their terrorist rapists.  And then they would require very specialized and intensive therapy and emotional support.


There are also reports of a deal negotiated with Qatar in which hostages would finally receive the medications they need in return for more humanitarian aid being allowed into Gaza.

Today medications are being brought into Egypt, to then be transferred into Gaza by representatives of Qatar.  This is way, way past due. I will believe the hostages have received the medications when there is direct evidence that this is so.  Such evidence may not be forthcoming.



On Monday, there was a major terror attack in the city of Ra’anana in the center of Israel. It was a combination car ramming and stabbing attack perpetrated by two Palestinian Arabs, cousins.

One woman, Edna Bluestein, 79 (pictured), was killed and at least 17 (some reports said 18) were injured, two – including a 16-year-old – seriously. Several children and teenagers were among those moderately wounded.

Credit: Courtesy

The terrorists were from the Arab town of Bani Naim near Hebron in Judea. They had been working in Israel illegally.

Deputy Police Commissioner Avi Bitton called this “a very grave terror attack.” The scenario was complicated, with the terrorists switching cars at least three times.


News of the attack left heads spinning in Israel.  Ra’anana?  Why this peaceful, largely Anglo community?

By Monday afternoon Hamas had claimed credit for the attack.  No surprise there.


Yesterday morning (Tuesday), more than 50 rockets were launched toward the southern city of Netivot.  They came from central Gaza, an area from which troops had been withdrawn just a day previously.  This was the largest barrage that had taken place in weeks.


Meanwhile, in the north of Gaza, during clean-up operations in Beit Lahiya, IDF troops located some 100 rocket launchers and at least 60 rockets prepared for launch . Troops battled and killed dozens of Hamas operatives in the area.



Also yesterday, a report from “senior IDF officials” indicated that the Hamas tunnels are hundreds of miles longer than had been originally thought, with upwards of 5,700 entry shafts.  It is now believed that there is somewhere between 350 and 450 miles of subterranean terror infrastructure, whereas an earlier estimate was 250 – some solid portion of which has been destroyed.  

This continues to boggle the mind: The years of effort, the absolute fortune in funds (tens of millions of dollars estimated) and supplies, the energy invested in constructing these tunnels.  And so, we take it on, one step at a time.  There were 100 miles of tunnels under Khan Yunis alone.  Some of these have been destroyed, but others remain; it is believed that Sinwar, surrounded by many hostages, is somewhere within this network of tunnels.          

What makes this all the more incredible is that Gaza is only 25 miles long, and seven miles across at its widest point.              



Prime Minister Netanyahu has announced Israeli intention to take over the Philadelphi Corridor, a 14- kilometer swath of land across the Gaza-Sinai border, in Gaza.   This is essential because smuggling of  weaponry takes place via tunnels under that border; Gaza cannot be demilitarized without blocking this.  

Naturally, Egypt denies that smuggling is occurring and is incensed.  

See: https://jcpa.org/securing-the-philadelphi-corridor-a-strategic-imperative-for-israel/


I mention here two major topics of discussion, in Israel and internationally, with regard to Gaza.  I will return to these:

1) What happens now to the civilians located to the south during major hostilities that took place in the north.

There is very little for them to return to in the north at present, and there is a push here in Israel for them to be taken in, either temporarily or permanently, by other countries.  Among those advocating for this are Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist chair) and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit chair).  They have been called far-right extremists for this very rational and normative proposal and have met with an outcry regarding the illegality of forced migration.  

But this is nonsense because they are proposing voluntary migration. If other nations open their doors, why wouldn’t many want to leave the misery of Gaza to begin a new life?

This matter was discussed at the Sovereignty conference, and it was pointed out that it is the norm for refugees to be taken by other countries during war time – as has been the case most recently with the Ukraine. For the first time I heard a comment, from international lawyer Eugene Kontorovich, about the fact that Egypt has some responsibility here.

I point out, for perhaps the hundredth time, that Israel is treated differently from the other nations of the world. The impulse to force Israel to deal with the problem of these civilians for many supersedes genuine concern for the wellbeing of the civilians.

2) Who will be in civil control of Gaza after the war is over.

This is a huge topic, with the US pushing hard for a Palestinian state there with a “revitalized” PA  – something that Israel is resisting and absolutely must continue to resist. There is a great deal to discuss with regard to this issue.

Here let me simply point out that:

“The Palestinian Authority will pay families of dead Hamas terrorists a combined total of around $2.8 million, according to a report by the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).  The authority will also pay $17,590 to approximately 50 new Hamas prisoners this month.”



And several items regarding the beautiful people of Israel.  Half of Israeli citizens have been volunteering since the war started.  Some examples:

Beraha Astruk is a head nurse in the ophthalmology department at Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya. When she comes home after a long shift, she voluntarily spends her evenings and weekends cooking for two Israel Defense Forces battalions stationed near the northern border. 

She even invites the soldiers to shower and do their laundry at her house in Moshav Liman, north of Nahariya.


Credit: Roni Albert


“Thousands of evacuees had no way to retrieve their cars from their destroyed Gaza border communities, which are now closed military zones. 

“One resident of Kibbutz Nahal Oz contacted motor vehicle retailer Shlomo Group (Shlomo Sixt) asking for help.

“In coordination with the IDF, the company recruited volunteer mechanics and logistics coordinators and made two trips to the dangerous region to extract a total of 65 intact vehicles (many cars were burned or demolished). Each operation involved 13 transport trucks and four SUVs.

“Each rescued vehicle was thoroughly cleaned and checked out by a volunteer mechanic before it was returned to its owner.”


“Upon learning that a duffel bag full of new size XL army uniforms sent by well-intentioned US donors had arrived at a southern army base, Ma’aleh Adumim friends Judy Slyper and Lisa Zenilman packed up two sewing machines and an iron, and headed down to alter the uniforms to fit the soldiers.” 

Credit: Lisa Zenilman 



Keep praying to Heaven for Israel, my friends.  Pray for the strength and wisdom of our leaders, for the safety of our boys, and for the rescue of our hostages.  Pray with a heart filled with hope.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.