“I go to sleep a dead man.” That’s the only way Liri Albag’s father can describe what it’s like to know his daughter is a hostage in Gaza. He holds up a picture of his beautiful girl before captivity — and another, the unrecognizable face of his 18-year-old looking dirty, dazed, and disheveled. Somewhere, deep underground, she waits for help that has not come. “I want to show to the world,” a pained Eli tells reporters. “This is the same girl — it is not different girls,” he pleads. It’s the face of a girl who’s seen unspeakable horrors. Horrors that will not stop if Israel does.
For Liri and so many others, the one blessing is that they do not hear the world telling the Jewish State to stand down. They aren’t near televisions where news reports scream for two-state solutions and political leaders without a daughter in Hamas’s hands call for an end to the invasion. They don’t know that barely five months removed from the massacre that killed 1,200 Israelis that their friend America is dangerously close to betraying them.
The lucky ones, the girls who survived weeks in those tunnels, talk like ghosts who have seen the worst of humankind. “Have you eaten enough today,” Agam Goldstein-Almog asks the female hostages still in Gaza. “Has he harmed you again? Has he asked you, again, if you’re married, if he could set you up with someone from Gaza? Has he entered your shower again, stripped the pajamas that he gave you, touched the wound from the bullet that he shot, that really hurt you? But his control hurt more.”
Knowing — and not knowing — is what’s hardest for Eli. “We know that some of the girls,” he pauses, “it’s very difficult to say this, [but] they attacked them, sexually, and we are worried.” When he asks the women who are released about whether they were raped, they look away.
Like all of the parents, he knows the stories. Agam and her mother saw the haunted faces of others who had been severely sexually abused. Through “great difficulty and tears,” the answer was almost always yes. “Suddenly, they had a friend to tell, someone they could unburden themselves to. We cried together.”
So imagine being a parent or survivor and hearing the world’s demand that their tormenters be rewarded — that in exchange for this unspeakable cruelty they earn their own state. Ohad Tal, a member of the Israeli Knesset for the Religious Zionist Party, can only shake his head in disbelief. “It’s just unbelievable,” he told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on “Washington Watch.” “I mean, basically what [these people are] trying to say is that Israel doesn’t have the basic right to defend itself. … Because, I mean, we didn’t initiate anything with Hamas, just to remind everyone.”
And yet now, leaders from around the globe — including some mixed messages from our own U.S. leaders, are “telling Hamas after the atrocities of October 7th that what they will get is a fully functioning state from the hands of America, basically, is telling them that the path of terror, this is the right path to go. It’s worth it. This is what we’re telling them, right? And I think it’s a huge mistake, not just for Israel. It’s a huge mistake for the world.”
Tal, like so many Israelis, has trouble believing how many countries have abandoned them after such an unprovoked and brutal slaughter of innocent people. “We have to understand that on October 7th, something unbelievable happened in Israel,” he insisted. “Something that’s really beyond imagination. I mean, Hamas fighters — but not only them, actually, because it was also Islamic Jihad and random Gazans who came into Israel [too] — penetrated into the kibbutzim, to the villages around Gaza, and basically butchered 1,200 Israelis [including] kids in their beds. They raped women, they beheaded babies. They slaughtered parents in front of their kids and took 240 of them into Gaza.”
He told the story of a father, whose name is Ohad — just like him — who was hijacked and taken “with his whole family — his wife Batsheva and their three kids — into Gaza.” “The wife, Batsheva, and two kids succeeded to escape, because they took them on motorbikes. … [and] she took three kids with her. But one of the terrorists didn’t give up — and took from her hands one of her kids into Gaza.”
“Just really try to imagine,” Tal said with emotion, “a mother that sees her husband and her son being taken away, brutally taken away from her to the unknown — to the terrorists of Gaza.” We are talking, he insisted, about an atrocity that is “unprecedented in human history.” And right now, as we speak, there are 136 hostages still in the hands of terrorists. “Among them babies. Babies,” he emphasized. “I mean, these are things really are beyond imagination.”
So when he hears politicians or protestors calling for a two-state solution, this Knesset member wants to remind people that Israel tried that. In fact, Tal pointed out, they gave up their own land in 2005 to make it work. That was a mistake, he admitted. Letting Hamas have functional control of Gaza didn’t fix anything. “Many people thought that, you know, if we will improve their economy, if we will allow Palestinians to come to Israel to work, to earn decent money, that will take away their desire to destroy us, that will create a better feeling that we are neighbors. But it didn’t turn out.”
And now, the idea that Israel should return to that after the evil and injustice they’ve experienced is ludicrous. As Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) described it, what you’d have under this so-called “two-state solution” is a scenario “where Israel’s here, Gaza’s there: two different states, and one continues to attack the other.”
Because again, Tal explained, “within the Middle East, everything is very simple. … If you’re weak, we will come and bite you. This is how it goes. … You have to remember [Hamas] succeeded [in doing] something that all the Arab armies didn’t succeed to do in 75 years. They tried. They didn’t succeed. [Hamas] did it in one day. And if [they] get a state at the end of it, it means it was worth it.”
And what will happen then? “Radical Islam, because of it, will raise its head all over the world. [You] can already see it. It begins in Europe. You can already see they’re telling the Christians in Europe, ‘We want to apply Sharia rules here in your countries, you are our slaves.’ This is how they treat Christians in Europe today. This is what we want to see in America. This is what we want to see in the entire Western civilization, because this is what will happen ahead.”
So while the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tediously go through the deadly work of smoking out Hamas, the world needs to understand that this is a very complicated situation, Tal reiterated. “… [Gaza] is not [as] small as people maybe tend to think.” And with the “unbelievable” amount of tunnels and underground facilities — “thousands of miles of them” — it’s not easy. He estimates that the IDF has destroyed about 20% of the tunnels, and of the 40,000 fighters, soldiers have killed about 10,000 — so “about a quarter.” “And this is after four months of fighting,” he pointed out. “So there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. And it takes time, and we have to have patience. And I think also the administration here in America has to have patience and understand that it takes time.”
If they need to be reminded why Israel is doing this, the nightmarish images from October 7 should be more than enough motivation. “Along with other members [of the] Knesset, I watched a video of these inhuman acts, recorded largely by the terrorist themselves — the sites of the joyful mutilation of our people by the hands of Hamas death squads. [It] sent a strong and enduring message to all of us that we must reassess everything.”
The Palestinians do not want to have a state side by side with Israel, Tal insisted. “They want a state instead of Israel. And we will never accept that.” Look at history, he urged at Wednesday’s National Gathering of Prayer and Repentance. “Every time Israel has retreated from a territory, it has been attacked from there.”
“We need to send a very clear message that terror cannot pay nor be rewarded. This is a war between good and evil. There is no gray area. Humanity has to make a choice. … And I call on everyone present here today to stay with us. Stand on the right side of history. Stand with the good in prayer and action.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.
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