Edvard Munch's famous painting "The Scream" is well known to many of us. Almost three weeks ago, all our lives in Israel were destroyed. I, like the person in the painting, scream constantly inside me, silencing the world around me.
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Tel Aviv is my home, and just as I started writing this, another rocket warning alarm sounded, the third today, because rockets were launched from Gaza into Tel Aviv. These missiles are meant to kill us. Compared to the horrors that befell us on October 7 and continue to torture our minds every minute since the disaster, all of this occupies a marginal place in the new proportions of our lives.
There is no escaping the horrifying stories told by those who were there. I recently heard how a commander in Kibbutz Be'eri entered a room and found eight children bound and shot to death. Terrorism is the burning of this information into the mind, in images that torture the soul. It is impossible for me to look away, I am morally obligated to see what was done to my people by those who may appear human but are not. Murder and sadism machines disguised as humans.
Having grown up hearing stories of the horrors of the Holocaust since the age of 6, I had dreams in which I was being persecuted by the Nazis.
Then, on October 7, 2023, pure evil appeared two hours away from my home. There was a mass pogrom of thousands of people, including babies, children, women, men and the elderly. They were tortured to death or kidnapped to Gaza.
Every minute of every day, I have to push back the images of thousands of photos and videos that I will never recover from: Five family members, a father, a mother, three children who were found hugging in bed after being shot to death; A mother forced to receive from a murderer the video made on his phone showing how he murdered he child; Parents who were murdered in front of their children and children who were abused in front of their parents and then murdered; Dozens of women and girls who were raped and some kidnapped; Babies whose heads were cut off. I cannot digest it as I write this, it is an absolute evil, an evil we did not believe could exist in these times.
Hamas members were proud of their actions, uploading videos to Telegram, posting them live to victims' Facebook pages, showing how they murdered an 18-year-old girl in front of her family and kidnapped her father.
The 224 people who are in their hands - babies, women, the elderly, and men, are at the mercy of those who are more brutal than ISIS. The anxiety for their safety does not allow many of us to function - we scream, we are all like that woman in Edvard Munch's painting, bring them home now, alive and well.
Since then, they have been trying to deny the atrocities they committed and dominate with a false narrative. Besides Israel, Hamas is testing you, the one who reads and lives anywhere else on the globe, with the question of your basic humanity. Would you believe the version of the killers who presented the massacre themselves? Do you justify the barbaric acts in any way? Is there a "but" here? If so, I have an answer: you have lost your humanity. There is a dark side to the times that you are part of.
- Ricky Cohen is an Israeli writer and poet