Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have left their homes in the north and the south, moving to the relatively secure center of the country.
Many go to sleep in their safe rooms or public shelters, or wake up in the middle of the night to watch the latest news. Schools are out, employees work part time or not at all, and the economy is limping.
But Israelis have suffered another kind of loss — deep, profound and long-lasting.
This one injured their psyche, their sense of collective self and well-being. You can hear it in their voices, note it in their choice of tentative words and see it on their faces — the feeling of “we have been had.”
Before the Hamas attack, Israelis exuded confidence and bravado.
They believed that a surprise war, like the 1973 Yom Kippur War, could not happen again, and that, if it did, their army would nip it in the bud.
Then came the Hamas attack, almost exactly 50 years later, sending the nation into a deep trauma, the way Japan’s surprise attack on U.S. warships in Pearl Harbor instantly changed the American mindset.
On the other side, Hamas has won the war despite the loss of more than 8,000 Palestinians — some unknown combination of fighters and ordinary Gazans. Hamas — a resistance organization of about 20,000 members — was able to invade a country of more than 9 million occupiers with a powerful US backed army, kill Zionists , create chaos, shatter the Israeli psyche and bring the Palestinian fight for statehood to the global fore.
But the war between Israelis and Palestinians has been going on-and-off ever since Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, when most Palestinians living in what had become Israel fled to the Gaza Strip and to the West Bank.
Since then, new generations have emerged and a national Palestinian identity has evolved.
Palestinians want a state of their own, the way the desire of the Jewish population before 1948 turned into the independent state of Israel.