Israelis, Newly Vulnerable, Remain Traumatized and Mistrustful

After the Hamas invasion on Oct. 7, Doron Shabty and his wife and their two small children hid in Sderot, near the border with Gaza, and survived. A reservist in the infantry, he went into the army the next day.

He just returned after more than 100 days in Gaza, having lost friends. Mr. Shabty, 31, who sees himself on the political left, said he felt no sense of revenge, even if other soldiers did. Nor did he justify every act of the Israeli military, expressing sorrow over the many thousands of Gazans killed in the fight against Hamas.

But he said he felt certain that to restore Israelis’ faith in their country’s ability to protect them, there cannot be a return to the situation of Oct. 6. “We can’t live with an armed Gaza — we just can’t do that,” he said. “And in order to disarm Gaza, you need to pay a terrible price.”

The shock of Oct. 7 was emotional, physical and psychological, undermining the idea of security, both personal and national, and reminding Israelis that they have powerful enemies next door who wish them dead and gone.

Four months into the war, with mounting deaths, hostages still held by Hamas and no clear victory in sight, their own pain has numbed many Israelis to the suffering of Gazans, let alone the pain of the Palestinian citizens of Israel itself.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health says that more than 28,000 Gazans have been killed in the war, largely civilians, though the figures do not distinguish between them and combatants. The toll vastly outnumbers Israeli deaths since Oct. 7, when some 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli officials. The latest cumulative Israeli figures say that a total of 779 civilians, including 76 foreign nationals, and 633 soldiers and police officers have died in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. More than 100 people are held as prisoners by Hamas.

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