When human rights activist Ziv Stahl was awakened to the booms of rocket fire on October 7, while staying at her sister’s home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, she did not for a moment anticipate the scale of the terrorist attack unfolding around her. Nor did she imagine the horror she would feel when she later called the police, who “basically told me no one is coming.”
That day saw Hamas militants murder her sister-in-law and several prominent peace activists living in the kibbutz, one of the communities that bore the brunt of the attack on Israel.
Stahl, who is the executive director of the human rights organization Yesh Din, says she is not calling for revenge over what happened that day nor is she taking a pacifist position on Israel’s ensuing war in Gaza against Hamas. “I am not saying ceasefire at any cost,” she said. “Israel has a right to defend itself and protect Israeli citizens,” she explained, but not indiscriminately or at the cost of thousands of Palestinian lives.
Her position, which she described as “complicated,” speaks to the challenge Israel’s peace movement faces when coming to terms with the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust.