‘The US needs to let us win in our own way,’ mothers of IDF soldiers demand
American pressure endangers Israelis battling Hamas in Gaza, they say.
“The demands that the U.S. administration is putting on our soldiers go far beyond what the Americans practiced after 9/11 and Pearl Harbor,” Mirit Hoffman, an English-language spokeswoman for Mothers of Combat Soldiers (Imahot HaLohamim in Hebrew), told JNS.
Founded during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war (“Operation Protective Edge”), Mothers of Combat Soldiers consists of 7,000 mothers and other supporters of Israel Defense Forces soldiers who oppose U.S. pressure that prioritizes the safety of Palestinians in Gaza and promotes increased humanitarian aid to them.
“This whole claim for humanitarian aid is a complete and utter joke. We know very well that it does not go to civilians,” Hoffman said. She noted that a Hamas police officer last week shot and killed a Palestinian boy who had approached a stockpile of aid.
Earlier this month, a Palestinian woman went viral for telling an Al Jazeera reporter that Hamas was diverting humanitarian aid entering Gaza into its tunnel system for distribution to terrorists.
Also in December, IDF soldiers discovered more than 100 rockets hidden in UNRWA packages in a home in the northern Gaza Strip. In October, UNRWA reported that fuel and humanitarian aid were stolen from one of its compounds by truck drivers believed to be from the Hamas-run Ministry of Health. Moreover, U.N. and USAID sacks have been used by Hamas to construct terror tunnels in Gaza.
Nevertheless, the U.N. Security Council on Dec. 22 passed a resolution—the U.S. abstained instead of vetoing the motion—to speed and scale up humanitarian aid to the Strip.
“I don’t see the U.S. pushing Hamas to make sure the Red Cross visits our hostages,” said Hoffman. “In fact, I don’t see the U.S. pushing Hamas, or Iran and Qatar, which finance Hamas, to do anything.
“Then, they expect us to keep supplying fuel to Hamas, these Nazis, with food and electricity, prolonging the war and endangering the lives of our soldiers,” she added.
During a press briefing with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Dec. 18, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated that “protecting Palestinian civilians in Gaza is both a moral duty and a strategic imperative.”
Hoffman said such pressure poses a danger to Israeli troops battling in Gaza.
“Our brave soldiers are fighting a terror group which uses its own people as human shields. The lives of our children should be prioritized over those of enemy civilians,” she said. “Our soldiers can’t be worrying about civilians while they fight, or risk being attacked by Hamas terrorists dressed as civilians,” she added.
During the first part of the war, the IDF oversaw the evacuation of Palestinians towards the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Hoffman is strongly against their return to the northern part, saying this would endanger soldiers’ lives.
“It will be difficult if not impossible for the IDF to distinguish between terrorists and civilians,” she said. “We are at war. Wherever our soldiers are, should remain a closed military zone.”
Following growing international pressure for a ceasefire that would leave Hamas in power, Mothers of Combat Soldiers has called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep his word and continue waging war until victory.
“The prime minister set the goals of the war—destroying Hamas, demilitarizing the Gaza Strip, retaining security control, releasing all the hostages, while putting the security of our soldiers above all else. That is what we expect,” Hagit, another Mothers of Combat Soldiers member, told JNS.
Hagit, a 58-year-old engineer whose two sons are IDF special forces operators currently fighting in Gaza, participated in a Mothers of Combat Soldiers event in Jerusalem on Thursday.
“We are against the U.S. dictating the limits of fighting, the duration of the war, or how to handle the displaced Palestinian population. The U.S. imposing conditions on sending weapons to Israel sabotages our war effort and endangers our soldiers in the field,” added Hagit.
Chana, another Mothers of Combat Soldiers member, has seven sons and sons-in-law who serve in the IDF.
“We support the government and the IDF, but the U.S. thinks of the security of Palestinian civilians. We must take care of ourselves,” she said.
“The U.S. is not fighting our war for us; they need to let us win in our own way,” Chana said.
Image: Israeli soldiers take a break before entering the Gaza Strip, Dec. 20, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.