Many Israelis Blame Hamas for Gaza Suffering, and Feel Little Sympathy

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The Long Shadow of October 7th: A Look at Israeli Sentiment Amidst the Gaza War

In the wake of the devastating Hamas attack on October 7th, 2023, which saw hundreds of Israelis killed and abducted, the Israeli public grapples with a complex and often contradictory mix of grief, anger, and uncertainty. While the immediate aftermath saw a wave of collective trauma and outrage, eight months into the ongoing war with Hamas, the situation has evolved, leaving many Israelis struggling to balance their own suffering with the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Key Takeaways:

  • Trauma and Indignation: The October 7th attack remains a defining moment for Israelis, shaping their perspectives on the conflict and its aftermath. The collective trauma is compounded by feelings of indignation towards Hamas, which is widely blamed for starting the war and embedding fighters among civilians.
  • A Lack of Sympathy: Many Israelis, both conservative and liberal, express little sympathy for the plight of Gazan civilians, viewing them as complicit in Hamas’s actions and the atrocities of October 7th. This sentiment, coupled with the raw pain of their own losses, has led to a disconnect from the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.
  • The War of "Us or Them": The prolonged nature of the conflict and the brutal tactics of Hamas have fuelled a sense of "existential threat" among many Israelis, viewing the war less as a traditional conflict and more as a battle for survival, with no room for ambiguity or compromise.
  • A Divided Public: While a desire to see an end to the war and the return of hostages is shared by many, Israelis remain divided on issues like the supply of humanitarian aid and the tactics used to confront Hamas, often aligned with broader political ideologies.
  • A Bleak Future?: The war has left many Israelis disillusioned, questioning the effectiveness of their government’s strategy and the possibility of a swift resolution. As the conflict continues, the psychological toll on both civilians and soldiers deepens, leaving a lasting impact on the Israeli psyche.

The Scars of October 7th: A Collective Trauma

The October 7th attack, branded as the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust by Israeli officials, forever changed the landscape of the Israeli psyche. The sheer brutality – with civilians targeted in their homes, at music festivals, and even in bomb shelters – instilled a deep sense of vulnerability and fear. This trauma continues to manifest itself in the daily lives of Israelis, reflected in the constant media coverage of the attacks, the ongoing anxiety over the fate of the hostages, and the ongoing debate about the war’s impact on Israeli society.

A Lack of Empathy: A Disconnection from Gaza’s Suffering

The collective trauma of October 7th, however, has created a chasm in the Israeli narrative when it comes to the suffering of Gazans. Many Israelis, regardless of their political leanings, express a notable lack of empathy for the civilian population of Gaza. While they acknowledge the humanitarian crisis – the widespread destruction, hunger, and displacement – they often attribute the suffering to Hamas’s own actions, viewing them as complicit in the war due to their long-standing political control of Gaza.

This perspective has been cemented by the horrific images and videos released by Hamas, showcasing the abduction and mistreatment of hostages, further intensifying the belief that the civilian population is somehow responsible for the actions of Hamas. This “us versus them” mentality creates a disconnect, making it difficult for many Israelis to fully grasp the suffering of those across the border.

The "Either Us or Them" Mentality: An Existential Battleground

The prolonged nature of the conflict, coupled with the graphic nature of the October 7th attack, has fueled a sentiment of existential threat among many Israelis. They see the war not as a traditional conflict between governments, but as a direct threat to their very existence. This perspective sees the choice as clear: “either us or them”.

This "either us or them" mentality can explain the seemingly disproportionate response to the perceived threat posed by Hamas, leading many to believe that drastic measures are necessary, including inflicting heavy casualties on Gaza. The focus shifts from achieving a diplomatic resolution to ensuring the immediate and decisive defeat of Hamas, even if it comes at a high price for both sides.

A Divided Public: Unease and Discord

While the desire for an end to the war and the safe return of hostages resonates across a significant portion of the Israeli public, the path forward remains deeply divisive. The war has exposed deep-seated societal fissures, often mirroring existing political divides.

The question of humanitarian aid has become a flashpoint. While some advocate for unrestricted aid and support for the trapped Gazans, emphasizing the humanitarian responsibility of Israel, others argue that the aid should be carefully controlled, fearing its potential diversion to Hamas. This debate reflects the deep anxieties over the ongoing conflict, the mistrust of Hamas, and the uncertainty surrounding the future of Gaza.

Looking Ahead: A Bleak Landscape

The war in Gaza casts a long shadow, leaving many Israelis deeply disillusioned. The prolonged nature of the conflict, the ongoing casualties, and the seemingly endless cycle of violence have created a feeling of hopelessness. The eight-month mark finds many questioning the effectiveness of the current government’s strategy, wondering if a decisive victory is even attainable, and searching for a roadmap to a sustainable peace.

The psychological impact of the war on Israeli society is undeniable. The trauma of October 7th, the continued uncertainty over the hostages, and the internal societal divisions are all taking their toll. As the conflict drags on, the challenge for Israelis is to find a way to process their own grief and anger while finding a path toward a lasting resolution, a task that seems increasingly daunting in the face of a seemingly endless war.

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Olivia King
Olivia King
Olivia King is a social media expert and digital marketer. Her writing focuses on the most shared content across platforms, exploring the reasons behind viral trends and the impact of social media. Olivia's expertise helps readers understand the dynamics of online sharing.