Last week’s terror attacks in Israel were tragic — and telling. In the week since, I have watched the funerals of the eight innocent victims with grief and prayer. And I have also been paying attention to the Palestinian Authority’s response to this brutal violence.

The attacks last Thursday originated along Israel’s border with Egypt, and are believed to have been carried out by members of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee. When the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) rightfully responded to the attacks with military strikes on Palestinian terrorist targets in Gaza, Hamas joined in the violence, raining down more than 100 rockets on Israel over that weekend — and rockets continue to fall today.

That Hamas joined in the violence against Israel when they were already vulnerable is no surprise — nor is the fact that they violated the ceasefire they agreed to after days of fighting between Hamas terrorists and the IDF. If history has taught Israel anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as a ceasefire with Hamas.

When we look to the more “reasonable” and “moderate” of the two main Palestinian factions — the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) — we likewise find nothing encouraging. Instead of condemning the terrorist attacks coming from Gaza, P.A. president Mahmoud Abbas went to the U.N. Security Council, calling for an emergency session to halt Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

Abbas offered the U.N. no acknowledgement of Palestinian incitement and culpability. Nor was there any attempt at direct communication and negotiation with Israel. The bid for a Palestinian state follows a similar formula: deny any fault, eschew any real attempts at peace, and go to the U.N. for an end-around to your desired goal.

Abbas even accused Israel of trying to use this situation to undermine the Palestinian attempts at statehood, and to drum up international sympathy by portraying the Palestinians as the victims of Israeli violence. "We are determined to turn to the U.N. in September and receive recognition because of Israeli government policies,” he said. “What Israel is doing now will not deter us from continuing to claim our rights."

True character is often revealed in times of crisis and conflict. In this conflict, Palestinian leadership has yet again shown that it has little regard for the truth and little interest in peacemaking. In the week that has passed since the attacks, the Israeli people have shown their character as well. We have gathered in unity to grieve our lost sons and daughters, brothers, and sisters. The city of Eilat, where the attacks took place, pushed forward with its annual international jazz festival earlier this week. As Eilat mayor Meir Yizhak-Halevi told The Jerusalem Post, “The right way to answer hostile fundamentalist forces is to carry on as normal.”

Thankfully, for Israel, even in times of attack, “normal” means a desire for justice and peace, participation in a strong community, and faith in God. May we all be blessed with these gifts — and may they, along with our support and prayers, see Israel through the difficult times that lie ahead.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
President, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews