For Israeli Goni Biranová, who lives and studies psychology in Prague, October 7 this year is “Black Saturday” and remains above all a story of people. “We are a small community, we are all connected, and everyone has been somehow affected by the terror of Hamas,” says Biranová in an interview for Seznam Zprávy.
The same applies to her, far from home – among the 1,400 victims is her murdered friend Shahar, among the 240 kidnapped by Hamas is her boyfriend’s best friend. He is 26 years old and no one has heard anything about his further fate for a whole month.
In Prague, Biranová is organizing a commemorative event, which takes place this evening on Wenceslas Square, called Bring Them Home Now!
In addition to the display of portraits of the abductees, a visual performance with Hamas “hostages” is also planned – some participants will be handcuffed, blindfolded and smeared with red paint to symbolize the blood of terror victims.
Safer than in Germany
The conflict between Israel and Hamas is also reflected in the streets of European cities. In recent weeks, especially in Western capitals, there have been massive demonstrations in support of the Palestinians and explicitly against Israel, which invaded Gaza in self-defense with the aim of destroying Hamas. They are also associated with attacks against Israelis, and even against the local Jewish population. Events in support of both sides of the conflict are being held in the Czech Republic throughout the month. Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) also spoke at an event organized by the Federation of Jewish Communities in support of Israel last week.
Expert on Israeli efforts to free hostages:
“We know there are 240 potential hostages in Gaza, but we don’t know how many of them are already dead, which of them died in Israeli bombing, for example, we don’t know if any of them were taken to Gaza sick or injured and died shortly afterwards, or how many people have already died in Israel, but their bodies have not yet been identified,” said British-Israeli security analyst Rob Geist Pinfold in an interview with SZ.
“I feel safe in the Czech Republic, certainly more than my friends in Germany or France. But I’m also afraid to speak Hebrew on the street. All it takes is one extremist and terrible things can happen. I feel the tension,” admits Goni Biranová.
The Prague meeting to commemorate the abducted Israelis in Gaza is to take place peacefully. “We will stick together, sing and pray. It’s been a month, but the pain hasn’t subsided,” says Biranová.
She found out about the attack on Saturday, October 7 in the morning. At first she thought it was one of many situations where Hamas fighters shelled Israeli territory. She learned about the scale of the attack gradually from the news.
“I know many of those who participated in the Nova music festival. Honestly, if we were in Israel, it’s very likely that we would be there too,” says the Israeli woman. She can’t hold back tears as she talks about the videos that soon began circulating online of terrorists murdering defenseless civilians.
She came to Prague less than four years ago with her boyfriend, who is studying medicine at Charles University. The choice for the Czech Republic was said to be due to the affinity between the two countries and because, according to them, young people were looking for a more relaxed life here than at home.
Life in war
On Saturday, October 7, early in the morning, terrorists from Hamas attacked Israel with a barrage of rockets, and at the same time they managed to penetrate the territory of the Jewish state through underground tunnels and by air. Then they unleashed the murders – of men, women, old people and children. The Israeli security forces were caught off guard. 1,400 Israelis died, mainly in kibbutzim in the border area, and almost 200 people, including children, were dragged into Gaza by the terrorists.
Hamas threatened, yet the Israelis were surprised by the attack
Read the interview with expert Irena Kalhousová from the Herzl Center for Israeli Studies in Prague:
Israel responded with force – airstrikes and ground operations. According to Hamas-controlled authorities, 10,000 people died in Gaza. Commemorating the attack on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli operation aims to achieve long-term “responsibility over security” in Gaza.
Goni Biran says she sympathizes with Palestinian civilians. He also sees them as victims of Hamas, which focuses on terror instead of governing the country. “All my life I have lived in the reality of a war conflict, that is life in Israel, but that does not mean that I have got used to it. I sympathize with the Palestinian civilians. It’s terrible, but at the same time I don’t know what other way there is to destroy Hamas. And also for the Palestinians, so that he does not drag them into terror, so that they can live a better life,” believes the student.
In the Czech Republic, according to her, people distinguish between “legitimate resistance” and terror against civilians. According to her, however, there is tension on university grounds. “It worries me when people justify Hamas and say that Israel deserved the terror. Or when classmates came to school with Palestinian flags on the Monday after the attack. I see it as support for what happened to us,” he adds.