Israel: A Nation MournsOctober 11, 23
We are in mourning. Our nation has been devastated by an act of unimaginable cruelty by the Hamas terror group.
Israel is a small country and we acutely feel each other's pain.
The death toll, reported as 100 in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's massacre, now stands (at the time or writing) at over 1,300.
More details of Hamas's atrocities have been emerging. Those of us who are not suffering PTSD from first-hand trauma are doing so by proxy.
We have, over many years, been the victims of numerous bombings, shootings, stabbings, car rammings and other horrors. But nobody here believed Hamas was capable of a killing spree on this scale or with this level of savagery.
Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Hamas atrocities were the worst since the Holocaust.
"They mowed them down, making sure that they killed everybody," he told US president Joe Biden in a phone call. "We've never seen such savagery in the history of the state".
The mood across Israel is somber. We say thank you, with all our hearts, to the true friends around the world who stand with us at this difficult time.
Here in Israel, people are comforting survivors and the bereaved. They are uniting to provide everyday items for those who have fled from the South of the country, close to the Gaza border, and to the 300,000 reservists who are now putting their lives on the line.
But few are in any mood to do business. "Nobody's thinking about working, nobody's thinking about money, about buying or selling when 1,300 people have died," said Yoram Dvash, who lives in Israel and is president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB).
"It touches all of us. Israel is a small country, everybody knows everybody, so the victims could be your neighbor, or the brother of the neighbor, or somebody that used to be with you in high school or university. I went to two funerals yesterday, and I'm sure it's only the beginning."
Israel Diamond Exchange, in Ramat Gan, remains open, as Hamas carries on firing rockets into central Israel, but it is almost empty, says Dvash, with maybe 10 or 15 per cent of the usual traffic.
"Some people are coming to the Bourse, but only to change their mood. They can't stay at home and watch the TV news all day. We see what's on TV and we cry. But Israel is strong. We will fight Hamas and we will destroy them."
Earlier this week, diamond industry bosses in Israel launched an appeal to support IDF soldiers and residents of stricken communities in the South.
"We feel a moral obligation to stand by our country, our brothers fighting in the IDF and the security forces, and the residents of the Gaza Strip who have been severely affected in the current campaign," they said.
"That is why we, the Israeli diamond industry, under the leadership of the Diamond Exchange, and in cooperation with the Association of Diamond Manufacturers and the Diamond Institute, have decided to help the national effort.
"We believe that Israel will pass the security crisis in peace, and that our country will quickly recover from this difficult period."
Boaz Moldawsky, president of the Israel Diamond Exchange, said today that the cancellation of so many flights to and from Israel, was having an additional impact on trade.
"Yesterday we buried the son of one of our members. He was at the party with a lot of people who were killed. Another son of a Bourse member is missing.
"Many of my colleagues in the Israeli diamond industry have lost friends and loved ones, and many others were called up to reserve duty to defend our country.
"The people of Israel are facing an extremely difficult time, but we firmly believe in the power of the Israeli army, the strongest military in the region. Israel stands united and determined to win this war against our fanatic neighbors.
"I would like to say how much we appreciate the support we are receiving from the world diamond industry and thank you all for your kind and caring thoughts and deeds."