Is the World Really Ready to Support Israel’s Right to Self-Defense?

Israel’s Spike anti-tank missiles. Photo courtesy of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

On Saturday, the unthinkable happened. Gaza terrorists poured into Israel, massacring hundreds of men, women, and children, as well as kidnapping women, kids and the elderly. Calling it a terror attack does not feel sufficient. And to the international community’s credit, they voiced their horror and one after another proclaimed their support for Israel’s right to defend itself. The question now is, did they really mean that?

In the past, time and again, Israel has sought to defend itself—from Palestinian terrorists in Judea and Samaria, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon… and the international community has given them a brief window to do so. But after a week or 10 days of Israel defeating its enemies, there are calls for a ceasefire, warnings about cycles of violence, and concerns about potential “disproportionate force” by Israel as they try to stop an enemy from launching rockets at civilians.

So again the question remains, does the international community really support Israel’s right to defend itself? Because this time, there will be no ceasefire.

To put what happened on Saturday in perspective, over 700 Israelis—more than 600 of them civilians—were brutally murdered by a terror group publicly gloating at the massacre. People have compared it to 9/11, but that isn’t a fair comparison. To be clear, I am by no means diminishing the horror of September 11, 2001 and the pain suffered by the loved ones of the lost. It remains one of the darkest days in human history. But Israel is a nation of less than 10 million—the United States in 2001 was around 285 million. That means that on a per capita basis, Israel on Saturday endured the equivalent of more than twenty-eight September 11th attacks. That’s like Al Qaeda killing over 80,000 Americans in one day—with dozens of planes striking not just offices, but apartment buildings, schools, and homes for the elderly.

To put it another way, it’s as though the Columbine school shooting, the Oklahoma City bombing, the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, the Sandy Hook school shooting, and the Boston Marathon bombing all happened on the same day—twice… and then another Oklahoma City bombing happened on the same day… and then over a hundred Americans were kidnapped by terrorists. And the terrorists didn’t just claim credit; they live-streamed the brutality for the world to see.

What would you do in response?

Already, there are indications that Israel’s response will be unprecedented in turn. Already, Israel formally declared war this time—it’s not a counterterror op. It’s war. Already, former Israeli National Security Adviser Giora Eiland, in an interview with Kan Bet republished by The Jerusalem Post, has called for shutting off the water lines into Gaza to force the terrorists to return the men, women and children—some three years old and younger—that were kidnapped. Already, Haviv Rettig Gur, senior analyst for The Times of Israel, has warned that Israel can no longer view Hamas as a containable threat but as an intolerable one. He said Israelis will believe they can no longer practice restraint in response. Consider that for a moment, international community. Those times where Israel’s 10-day victories were too long, that was restraint. And this won’t be. This isn’t to say what Israel should do or even will do, only what they could do.

Will the international community really support Israel’s right to defend itself?

The West has forgotten what existential conflict in the homeland looks like. They have forgotten, or perhaps tried to ignore, that when Nazi Germany drove tanks into France, the West responded by burning much of the weapons-manufacturing city of Hamburg to the ground. The West has forgotten, or perhaps tried to ignore, how the US ended World War II. Instead, the West remembers World War II through the guise of cinematic fantasy, where picture-perfect celebrities defeat evil with no civilian casualties and no collateral damage. It’s a way to cheer justice because it just doesn’t feel too real. We desperately wish it was, but tragically it’s not.

Collateral damage is awful and great efforts are required to avoid it where possible. That’s the theory of a just war. But it’s still war.

Some have called this Israel’s 9/11. When the United States had the original 9/11, they responded with a war of their own—The War on Terror. In the first 20 years the US was engaged in Afghanistan, the Costs of War Project has claimed that more than 50,000 enemy fighters were killed—along with more than 46,000 civilians. And there hasn’t been another 9/11 since.

Generally speaking, the world supported America’s right to self-defense. But will they support Israel’s this time?

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 9, 2023)

What do you think?