As the hostages kidnapped by Hamas from Israel have now been held in captivity in Gaza for over five months, and there are calls for Israel to halt its military response to the Hamas massacre of October 7, 2023, the Zionist Rabbinic Coalition, a coalition of hundreds of rabbis opposes calls for a ceasefire until all of  the remaining hostages have been released and Hamas is no longer able to pose a threat to Israel.  We also reject calls to place conditions on US aid to Israel.

In the immediate aftermath of the horrific attack on October 7, President Biden, members of his administration, members of Congress and leaders around the world recognized Israel’s right and need to respond to the invasion of Israel and to rescue its hostages.  Inasmuch as Hamas is still holding hostages and abuses them and keeps them in subhuman conditions, and continues to launch rockets into Israel and to proclaim its desire to carry out more atrocities against Israel, their actions and statements show why Israel must not stop its military operations until Hamas is defeated.

As the memory of the massacre of October 7 recedes, we affirm we must not forget the horror of that day.  Hamas’ declared goal, as explicitly stated in its charter is nothing less than the destruction and elimination of Israel and of Jews around the world.  Their extremist fundamentalist ideology threatens not just Israel, but also America and American interests and values, as well as the Arab nations who wish to normalize relations with Israel.

While we empathize with the suffering of innocent Palestinian civilians and mourn the loss of all lives, it is Hamas that bears responsibility for the suffering, destruction and loss of lives.  It is Hamas who broke the ceasefire, launched the attack, invaded Israel, committed atrocities, hides behind civilians and embeds their weapons, rocket launchers, fighters and command centers in civilian areas, including schools, hospitals and mosques.  Rather than pressure Israel, we believe the pressure needs to be put on Hamas to lay down its arms and to release the hostages.

The Palestinians living in Gaza suffer under the weight of the oppression imposed upon them by an authoritarian regime.  Hamas siphons off the billions of dollars generously donated by the international community for humanitarian aid.   Rather than use these funds to help their people, Hamas built a network of tunnels where their leaders can take refuge and direct their attacks and military aggressions, while enriching the coffers and personal bank accounts of its leaders.  Since the outbreak of the war, they have refused to share their stockpiles of food with civilians and willingly put them in danger because they believe the rising death toll in Gaza will garner more sympathy for them and increase international pressure on Israel to halt its operations against them, thereby giving them a victory.

While Hamas has sought to maximize casualties among its own people, Israel has taken unprecedented, unparalleled unheard-of efforts to minimize the loss of lives of non-combatants.  John Spencer, chair of Urban Warfare Studies Modern War Institute at West Point and an author of multiple books on the subject of urban warfare, confirms that Israel has taken more measures to prevent casualties than any other military in history.  Despite Hamas’ efforts to prevent aid from getting to those in need, Israel has taken extraordinary steps to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to Gaza.

The onus to stop the fighting and ameliorate the conditions in Gaza should not be placed on Israel, but on Hamas.

In light of the multi-front attacks facing Israel, including the shelling of northern towns by Hezbollah rockets, terror attacks by Palestinians in the West Bank, Houthi rockets and interference with international maritime, and other threats and hostile acts by Iran and its agents, we support Israel’s actions to protect its citizens.  We support the consensus of the Israeli public and the decision of their democratically elected government to pursue its military operation in Gaza until all the hostages are released and Hamas is defeated. 

Taking actions to distance the United States from Israel, our only democratic ally in the Middle East, by calling for a ceasefire only serves to prolong the fighting by giving Hamas the encouragement and false hope that their tactics are paying off.  Promoting destructive factions that are anti-American and anti-West does not promote peace, nor will it relieve the suffering of Palestinians or Israelis.

We therefore call upon the United States to maintain its support for Israel, and resist the pressure by a loud minority who are supporters of terror.  We reject calls for America to intervene and use its influence to urge Israel to have a ceasefire.  A premature ceasefire leaving Hamas intact, would allow Hamas to commit more October 7’s and would ultimately lead to greater loss of life.

Now is the time for the United States to display the courageous leadership required to defeat Iran’s proxy Hamas.

Only once Hamas is defeated will the lives of Israeli citizens and Gazan residents and the region be secure. 

Statement Issued by the Zionist Rabbinic Coalition, Representing over 1,000 rabbis of all denominations

For further information, or press, contact:
Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, Chairman, Zionist Rabbinic Coalition