I woke up yesterday morning very excited, knowing I was flying to Boston with an incredible young adult leadership mission that evening. Very soon, I understood we all woke up into a nightmare.

Imagine that: Saturday morning, you wake up to the sound of the alarm, but it’s not the alarm clock, and you run into your safe room because of firing missiles over the south. So far, as sad as it sounds, it’s kind of routine. But then, a group of murderers, a terror group called Hamas, came into Israeli villages in the Gaza Strip and started shooting everybody. Women, children, the elderly—everyone. Taking hostages, capturing them in their houses, humiliating them, and taking those they had not killed into Gaza. Entire families were taken hostage. Even now, we don’t know where many of these frightened people are. Can you imagine that??? And this happened on one of the most holy days for us, the day of Simchat Torah.

What is happening now in Israel is one of the worst situations we have faced. Report of hundreds of terrorists entering from Gaza into Israel, killing and capturing innocent civilians, including babies and infants! The pictures and stories of this slaughter are terrifying. Thousands of people were injured, an unknown number of people were taken hostage, dozens are dead, and the numbers only increased as the hours passed.

Today, we were waking up to the news that the villages in the north are evacuating. The meaning is that we might also have to face Hezbollah soon.

My country, our country, is under brutal attack!

This is insane! But, if we know anything about Israel’s (short) history, we know that Israel wins wars. Why? Because we have no choice. We cannot afford to lose. We have never wanted this war, but we will defend ourselves! And we are going to win, to prevail, because that is what Israeli people do, and that is what we, the Jewish people, have been doing for 2,000 years.

I wish to send strength and courage to the Gaza Strip families and all Israelis. And for our brave soldiers, who are protecting all of us, we believe in you and thank you for your service to protect our country and the Jewish people.

God bless you, and I hope for better days.

שלום מישראל

Hilla Perlman-Pniel is director of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection in Haifa.