Peace can only come by freeing Gaza from Hamas

Lately, a lot of people have been asking me, “How do you feel about this situation with Israel and Gaza? I’m sure you know people on both sides.”

And I tell them, “I know Israeli Jews, and I know American Jews. And both have relatives, friends and loved ones who were raped, tortured and killed Oct. 7.”

Hamas has inflicted terror on innocent Israelis — more than 1,400 of whom were murdered in a single day of savagery not seen since ISIS’s horrific attacks in the 2010s.

Yet every day, new painful details of rape, mutilation and torture continue to emerge. 

Hamas’ terrorist attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival was heartbreaking.

It was something straight out of a movie and would have been America’s worst mass-shooting event of all time had it happened on US soil.

At least 260 young people were butchered (60 were killed in the worst such shooting in American history, at a 2016 Las Vegas festival).

Having grown up in Queens’ Queensbridge projects, I’ve lived through many traumatic events, but I’ve never seen anything like this: 80% of bodies were tortured, including electrocuted, burned alive, limbs cut off, eyes gouged out and, again and again, the targeted rape of women and girls.

Captors referred to very young girls they kidnapped as “concubines.”

Hamas took at least 222 hostages from many nations, including America, into Gaza, where evidence has already emerged of continuing sexual abuse.

As someone who has dedicated my post-NBA career to ensuring people get the mental-health support they need, I cannot fathom the mental-health crisis this terrorist attack has inflicted on Israelis.

What’s happened in Israel isn’t war; it is inhumanity.

There were mass rapes so brutal they broke their victim’s pelvises — women, grandmothers, children.

A baby was cut out of a pregnant woman and beheaded; then the mother was beheaded.

This must be unequivocally condemned. 

Let’s now talk about what’s happening on the other side of the border, where I also know people who are living in fear after Hamas decided to put its own brutal agenda ahead of the interest of the Palestinian people. Gazans too are being terrorized by Hamas’ barbaric actions.

I know Palestinians who live in fear of those same terrorists, and we must have empathy for the children in Palestine who have been hurt.

We are all human, and empathy is an essential value of the human experience. 

We must also recognize there is no moral equivalence between terrorist killers and the innocents they destroy so brutally.

Everyone must have the courage to say this when mobs of antisemites are marching through America’s college campuses and the streets of cities around the world, chanting “gas the Jews” and tearing down pictures of kidnapped Israeli children.

As an activist myself, I know firsthand there is a better path: a path toward peace and love that does not start with justifying terrorizing innocent civilians.

Pro-Hamas rallies have taken place in my hometown of New York under the guise of promoting peace.

These rallies, unfortunately, have done nothing to promote peace; instead, they justify terror against innocent civilians.

The participants displayed a concerning lack of condemnation for Hamas.

While freedom of expression is crucial, it’s essential to distinguish between advocating for peace and supporting groups that refuse to condemn atrocities against innocent civilians.

Responsible activism should unequivocally denounce all forms of terrorism.

These rallies failed to live up to this basic standard.

Follow along with The Post’s live blog for the latest on Hamas’ attack on Israel

If you can’t condemn harming innocents amidst horrific images of Jewish babies in cages, then you need to check yourself.

If you want to help Palestinians, the best way to support them is by first supporting tangible steps toward peace by freeing Gaza from Hamas and letting the Palestinian people decide their own future without being controlled by a repressive terrorist organization.

Free Gaza from Hamas and its injustice once and for all.

Only then will we have a chance at peace.

Metta World Peace, born Ronald William Artest Jr., is a former NBA player who played for 19 seasons and won an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. He is a staunch advocate for mental health, even auctioning his championship ring to benefit mental-health charities.

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