The Gaza War and the Warriors

Posted on January 15th, 2009

2009-01-15My country is at war, and I can’t help but feel a little guilty. Thousands of young people, Israel’s finest, are battling their way through the streets of Gaza city as you read this. This is a city where schools are named after suicide bombers and mosques serve as missile launching grounds. This is a city in which a cheering crowd showered appreciation on a Hamas play in which a terrorist pretending to be Gilad Shalit begged for his mother and father. This is a city in which the main hospital also serves as the headquarters of one of the world’s most notorious terrorist gangs.

So what do you do with a little guilt? I moved here too late to serve in the army and quite frankly, the army needs people who can shoot straight – not ride a bike far. So today I did my small part to try to show the appreciation that so many of us have for the soldiers who are protecting us.

A small group of us from HonestReporting brought thousands of baked good and thermal shirts (donated by Gili’s Goodies) along with fleece jackets to military bases where soldiers were preparing to go into Gaza. We caught one unit within minutes of their deployment. While they enjoyed the cookies and grabbed for the fleeces (it’s cold in Gaza at night), I think the most important thing about the visit was it broke up the pre-deployment tenseness for a few minutes. For a few short moments they pushed away thoughts of the dangerous mission they were about to embark on.

They read some of the thousands of short e-mails from around the world that we had brought with us. Some smiled when they read the notes, especially ones from children far, far away from the battlefield. While not all the grammar and spelling was correct, they got the message: They are not alone.

We then drove down to the border. No matter how many of us think about, write about, and speak about war, most have never seen it up close. It is difficult to convey the sight of a city under attack. In front of us stretched the Gaza skyline. Every few seconds the artillery stationed to our right would let loose a volley and the sound came crashing down around us. Helicopters roamed above our heads shooting missiles down into the city. We could see where the bombs hit. First a flash of fire followed shortly by a huge cloud of smoke. Within minutes, most of the Gaza skyline had disappeared in the haze as the bombardment continued. The booms were so loud that you felt them go right through you. The windows of the cars would vibrate with the sound.

War is a powerful beast. It consumes everything: Buildings, homes, lives. There are few intelligent words that you can say as you watch the destruction. These aren’t fireworks. Old and young, terrorist and civilians are dying every time you see a burst of fire hit the ground.

And this is why Hamas is beyond evil. They are evil for making little Israeli boys and girls live in fear. They are evil for targeting Israeli kindergartens. But they are beyond evil because they regard their own people as no more than props for propaganda. The death of innocents means nothing to them.

The Hamas leader who was killed today had personally dispatched his son on a suicide mission two years ago.

How many Israeli Moms and Dads are staying up all night right now praying that their kids will come home in one piece? How many kissed the foreheads of their beloved children and gave them one last hug while trying to keep their worries buried deep inside. The last four words that most Israeli moms tell their kids are “Please come home safe.”

How can we even imagine a parent who straps dynamite to his child and says “Go die. As long as you kill others, I am proud of you.” There is no comparison. For the sake of Israeli children AND for the sake of Palestinian children we must rid the world of these horrible monsters once and for all.

As we have in the past and will undoubtedly in the future, we once again fight the world’s battle on our own. These young people–our young people–are paying the price that the so called civilized nations are afraid to pay.

What most of the world does not understand is this: We don’t want to kill. Just to stop the killers.

I have seen our soldiers preparing for battle and they make me proud to be a citizen of Israel. It is these men and women who make the survival of our nation possible every day. So I join the thousands of Israelis when I say to all our heroes, “We know what you are doing is just. Please come home safe.”

Shabbat Shalom from our blessed nation.

There are many organizations that are providing important supplies and support to our soldiers now. One of these is Standing Together and can be found at http://www.stogether.org/.

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