So Hamas has its victory picture now. How proud it must be. Daniel Tragerman, aged 4 — sweet, innocent, angel-faced fan of soccer star Lionel Messi and crime-fighter Spider-Man; too young to cross the road alone, but old enough to know to dash to the protected room at his Kibbutz Nahal Oz home. Except that on Friday, with three seconds between the alarm and the fatal fall of a mortar shell outside, he didn’t make it.
Daniel Tragerman is the inadvertent symbol of a war that has now lasted 49 days — a seven-week harvest of hatred and bloodshed, courtesy of Hamas.
His heartbroken mother Gila said, as she leant on his small-child’s coffin for support at his funeral on Sunday, that Daniel had “iron discipline” when it came to the rocket alerts. He was resolute and mature about taking shelter, because he knew that his little, loving family — parents Gila and Doron, younger sister Yuval and baby brother Uri – would be safe only once they reached that protected room.
There’s symbolism there, too, of course — in a nation reestablished too late to offer safe refuge to the Jews of Europe, and adamant about ensuring safe refuge for subsequent generations. Because when all is said and done, that’s all we want here: safe refuge. Peace and security in our historic national homeland, alongside, not instead of, the Arab peoples around us.
That’s all we want. That’s what was denied to four-year-old Daniel Tragerman. “We were the happiest family in the world,” said Gila Tragerman. Until Friday.
Hamas has its victory picture, and is drawing further delight in Israelis’ temporary abandonment of the kibbutzim and moshavim close to the treacherous border with its Gaza terror state. Israel stopped or evaded most of its thousands of rockets; Israel smashed most of its terror tunnels; so now it batters the south with barrages of shorter-range rockets and mortar shells — anything, everything, in the cause of our destruction.
Let no one doubt that Hamas ideology of destruction, or the evil cynicism with which it is pursued. Let no one be fooled by this weekend’s claim by Hamas “political” leader Khaled Mashaal that it would kill “only” Israeli soldiers and settlers if it had more accurate weapons. This, do not forget, is the organization that waged suicide bomber war on Israeli civilians throughout the country for years at the turn of the millennium. Suicide bombers are highly accurate weapons. They go precisely where their dispatchers tell them to go. Hamas sent them to kill any and all Israelis.
The charmless Mashaal’s ludicrous charm offensive notwithstanding, Hamas considers all Israelis to be “settlers” on occupied land. The Hamas war against Israel “is not aimed at opening the border crossings,” its spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri reminded cheering crowds at a rally in Gaza last week. Its goal, rather, is “the liberation of Jerusalem… resistance to the continued defiling our land by the occupier” — the elimination of Israel.
Many, many children are dying in Gaza. Hundreds upon hundreds. It is horrifying. And it was entirely avoidable. They are dying because Hamas is trying to destroy Israel
Let no one forget, either, that Hamas killed its own Palestinian people in seizing Gaza seven years ago, plotted the violent ouster of the Palestinians’ own Mahmoud Abbas-run leadership from the West Bank in recent months even as it was solemnly signing a “unity” agreement with him, and killed more of its own people in sickening public executions just days ago.
That’s worth remembering when Hamas’s defenders scoff at Israel’s grief over the death of a single four-year-old, and remind us of the Gaza death toll. Many, many children are indeed dying in Gaza. Hundreds upon hundreds. It is horrifying. And it was entirely avoidable. They are dying because Hamas is trying to destroy Israel, because it seized Gaza (with a good deal of Gazan support) and built a war machine in Gaza’s neighborhoods, because it fires and fires and fires some more at Israel, and because it then awaits one of two results: an Israeli military response, aimed at stopping the attacks, bringing death and devastation to Gaza and world fury at Israel; or no Israeli military response, enabling further aggression with impunity. A win-win for Hamas. A lose-lose for everybody else.
The killing of Daniel Tragerman, his pure small life extinguished by pure evil, underlines what we are up against, and what we insistently strive for. As we have done since 1948, to quote from our Declaration of Independence, “we extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land.” Those words apply as well to Abbas, the Palestinian leader now reportedly planning his latest UN gambit to try to impose his terms for Palestinian statehood.
Were Abbas to abandon his obscene government partnership with Hamas, condemn Hamas for the vicious murder machine it is, and commit himself to leading his embittered people — indoctrinated and poisoned by decades of false narratives — toward recognition of the Jewish nation’s legitimacy, he would have no need to attempt diplomatic extortion.
“We always said that you’d be the youngest world leader, who would bring peace,” Gila Tragerman said through her tears at Daniel’s funeral on Sunday. “So, if not in life then, we hope, in death.”
Why would anybody with a heart deny Daniel Tragerman that victory?