Tel Aviv: The Hamas leadership will have to pay the price for its unprecedented attack against Israel on October 7, says Ruth Wasserman Lande -- a former member of the Knesset (Parliament) and former advisor to late President Shimon Peres.
Lande, who is also co-chair of the Knesset caucus for the promotion of the Abraham Accords, made the remarks in an exclusive interview to IANS during which she spoke about the raging Israel-Hamas war and the developments that are unfolding.
Here are some excerpts from the interview.
IANS: What actually happened on October 7? Do you feel that there was a gross intelligence failure?
Ruth: On October 7 there was a failure and it will be examined after the war but not at the moment because the entire community is recruited to win a war which is very very unusual in Israeli history.
It is one of the worst hits perpetrated on Israel and specifically on the civilians of Israel. Thousands of Hamas operatives came rushing in with heavy arms, including automatic rifles and RPGs, broke the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Several youngsters were dancing at the Supernova festival. They killed hundreds of people at the festival and massacred hundreds of others else where.
They cut the bodies of civilians who were attending the festival. The Hamas men attacked Israeli villages on the Gaza border and killed residents, burnt several others, and also cut open a pregnant woman and and killing her baby.
IANS: Israel has said that it would wipe out the top Hamas leadership and those who conspired and executed the October 7 massacre. Your comment?
Ruth: Yes this is what Israel has said. Hamas stated in its founding objective that its main aim is to kill every single Israeli. They have said this again and again shamelessly. The militants have also said that if given a chance, they would repeat the October 7 carnage again.
Their ideology is to wipeout the entire state of Israel and to kill each and every single Jew across the world. Then they will kill all the ‘infidels’ who does not believe in the same ideology of Islam that the Hamas do. Why do I say this is that they have killed Muslims in Rahat ( a predominantly Arab Bedouin city in the Southern District of Israel) and nearby places in Gaza.
One lady who was killed had a head scarf and was visibly identified as a Muslim. They have taken Gaza hostages from Israel to Gaza, which include children, elderly and women who are also Bedouin and Muslims.
This is why we have openly said that we will eliminate the top leadership of Hamas as otherwise they will again repeat October 7 and attack the country of Israel.
IANS: Students of several top universities of the US are opposing Israel in this issue. Why do you feel is this happening?
Ruth: A lot of the campuses for years have allowed antisemetic and anti-Israel rhetoric. A lot of Israel advocates had warned that if this was not contained and kept under supervision, hate speech will spiral out of control.
If it was not dealt properly in campuses of several European countries and specifically the US, in the name of freedom of speech a lot of anti-semetic and anti-Zionist rhetoric was allowed to go by as it was freedom of speech.
Israel doesn’t have a PR system unfortunately. The state of Qatar is funding the campus demonstrations and also the country of Iran with its imperialistic ideas to control the world.
Israel is the first step and the ultimate goal is the free world and the free world order and to bring in a rule that is what is practiced by Hamas and Iran. Many Muslims in the world know that this has nothing to do with Islam but Qatar and Iran are funding these demonstrations in campuses to create an environment supportive of their movements.
IANS: The world has taken a position in the war. Do you feel that Israel can overcome this in the days to come?
Ruth: Israelis are very resilient people. The Jews have for centuries undergone severe prosecution including pogroms, the Holocaust and terrible other things.
We will overcome as we are a resilient people and God is with us and we have no choice as it is an existential fight.
We had never entered Gaza, and quite frankly, a vast majority of the people of Israel -- the right wing and left wing -- were shocked, even those who knew that Hamas was terrible and would not agree for anything peaceful as they never ever thought in their worst nightmare that such a barbaric thing as October 7 would happen to their brethren. This is a realisation that our children, our women and our elderly should never again be exposed to such a thing again.
IANS: As a former member of the Knesset and a former advisor to late President Peres, what you feel the Israel government should do now?
Ruth: I want us to stay united and we should bring all our hostages back home. This includes Jewish people, Muslim hostages, children, women and elderly. Second thing is to finish the Hamas capabalities and their leadership.
Then we have to develop the area with the social rehabilitation. There should be a civilian and logistic effort along with a military effort to make sure that no terrorist raises its head again in the Strip.
The education system has to be changed. The teachers are chosen by UNRWA which is a UN body and lot of European funds are pumped here and the same educational system is followed in the Palestinian Authority and this system of education has to be changed. This education has to be stopped otherwise the military effort will come to a naught.
IANS: Will the war effect the economy of Israel?
Ruth: Of course... Any war will affect the economy of a country. However the Hamas could not break us, instead we became united. The people of Israel, from north to south got united. The elderly, the women and children are united now. We are a single people and we have this resilience.
People don’t have much money but they support each other and farmers are being given support and thus we will overcome the present crisis and will come out with huge positivities.