In the wake of the recent Hamas attack on Israel, one man’s tragic story reveals the horrifying reality of the situation. Israeli studies professor Ilan Troen speaks out after losing his daughter and son-in-law to Palestinian Hamas militants. He provides a gripping perspective on the conflict, shedding light on the stark difference between a war and what he describes as “fanatical attacks on civilians.”
Troen, who has taught at Brandeis University and the University of Missouri, shatters the illusion of this being a typical war, especially given the deep impact on his family and countless others in Israel. His daughter, Deborah, and her husband, Shlomi, faced the unimaginable as they defended their home, only 25 miles from the volatile Gaza border. Deborah was on the phone with her father in her final moments, while their young son miraculously survived.
Troen emphatically rejects the notion of this conflict being swiftly resolved, stating, “I remember learning the expression ‘a war to end all wars’: Don’t think of this as a conflict that can be readily ended once-and-for-all. The forces against them are so deep, so fanatical that that’s not the possibility. This thing was planned for months and months and months.”
Drawing attention to the premeditated nature of the conflict, Troen reveals the sense of impending attack that loomed over the region for an extended period. He notes the experienced hostage-taking capabilities of both Hamas and Iran. Troen points to the infamous Iran hostage crisis during the late 1970s, when Iranian militants held American embassy staff hostage for 444 days, as an example.
Troen’s own family lives in a region with a mere 45-second warning of incoming rocket fire, necessitating quick access to reinforced shelters. The day Deborah was killed, Troen received a call from her, recounting the terrifying situation unfolding around her house, marked by shattered glass, the sounds of Arabic voices, and gunfire.
Troen’s grandson and son-in-law took refuge in the home’s safe room, attempting to barricade the door. Shockingly, Hamas militants detonated explosives to breach the secure room. This incident vividly illustrates Hamas’ brutal intent to target civilians instead of adhering to traditional rules of warfare, in stark contrast to Israel and the United States, who take great care to minimize civilian casualties in their military operations.
Following the tragic loss of his daughter and son-in-law, Troen maintained contact with his grandson for 12 harrowing hours. They exchanged text messages and engaged in phone consultations with physicians to address the grandson’s injuries. Their agonizing ordeal culminated when the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) secured his release. Deborah and Shlomi shielded their son, protecting him from harm while withstanding Hamas gunfire and subsequent fires set by the militants.
Troen underscores that Hamas’ actions, far from conventional military planning, represent a concerted effort to murder civilians, motivated by a misguided and deviant theology. He vehemently disputes the notion that Hamas is representative of all Muslims or Arabs in the region, highlighting Israel’s peace agreements with neighboring Jordan and Egypt. This is not a conventional war, Troen asserts, but rather an extremist group’s quest for total victory and the destruction of the Jewish State.
In conclusion, the tragic story of Ilan Troen’s family serves as a stark reminder of the heart-wrenching realities in conflict zones. This perspective helps shed light on the disturbing actions of extremist groups and the impact on innocent civilians who find themselves caught in the crossfire.