“Of course it was planned,” Elie said half in frustration, half in surprise. “Idiot.”
The news anchor had just said that this operation – Operation Pillar of Defense – was planned months ago. “Every army makes plans. As soon as the last war ended, the army was making plans! We have plans for a war with Syria, with Egypt, with Iran, with Jordan. You think the United States doesn’t have plans for a war with its enemies.”
The “idiot” part of the comment shows he is still my Elie, still the one impatient with the stupidity of others. Elie is more of a deep thinker.
We were driving – Elie, his youngest brother and my next soldier (and yes, there goes my stomach at the thought and yes, my eyes fill with water and I blink it away,..lest you think I don’t take this seriously) and I were on our way in to work, to school, to the last day of the business week and the first full day of this war that began yesterday.
There were so many comments Elie made, so much talk of what it was like from his side. In truth, I’ve mostly heard the stories before and yet they comfort me because he is here not there. His voice is strong, not tired. He’s grown, he’s married, he’s safe.
Davidi was sitting in the back; the radio was broadcasting the news and Elie would listen and comment. And as the reporter spoke, we heard in the background the air raid siren. There was a brief pause in the reporter’s dialog and then he continued as the siren wailed. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Davidi’s eyes.
Not a child’s eyes filled with fear but a young man, balanced on the edge, as Elie was not so long ago. I don’t want him to have that look, that understanding. He was waiting, as I was, to hear them tell us what had hit, where.
“Color Red, Color Red in Ashdod, Color Red, Color Red in Ashdod, Color Red” the voice calmly announced – Ashdod, Ashkelon… it was a woman’s voice – strong, calm. Insistent. Run, run to shelter. Get safe. Hurry….you only have seconds. Hurry, run! No, she didn’t say any of those things. All she said was “Color Red, Color Red in Ashdod, Color Red….” But all of Israel was saying those other words as we waited to hear the explosions. Hurry, please God, hurry. Be safe.
The siren in Beersheva – a 30 minute drive with traffic and I quickly lost count of how many rockets were fired at my country. At one point, the reporter was counting – “one, two, three, four, five, no six, seven, eight. Iron Dome has been fired eight times in Beersheva” and still the sirens cried.
The news anchor spoke to the reporter on location, “don’t they know all of Israel is hearing this?”
“Yes,” the reporter answered. “The last four times I’ve been on live broadcast, they’ve fired at Beersheva.”
They don’t understand us at all, I told my sons. Not at all. We listen to the sirens and the voice announcing an incoming missile attack. It does not weaken us, it infuriates us. It angers us beyond words. No – we are one people, one country, one body. You shoot at them; you shoot at me. No, this is just not something we can allow to continue.
There is that burst of anger that we express in words because we know it will never be done. I speak of making Gaza a parking lot – no, I am not genocidal; unlike those in Gaza who are firing at one million Israelis, I have no wish to see my enemy dead. Israel will never do to Gaza what so many other nations have done to that troubling pest that bothers them.
Look what the Syrians have done – they have murdered more than 38,000 of their own people in the last year – each time I hear the count – 70 dead today in Syria; 140 dead today in Syria; even 200 dead in Syria. Well, according to Palestinian sources, 11 are dead in Gaza and of those, without question, at least 7 are Hamas or other terror organization operatives. There is no massacre going on and I will not mourn the deaths of 7. I will mourn for the very few innocent casualties and I will wonder why some parent didn’t keep his child in safety, as we keep ours inside.
Elie spoke of the initial targets during the time he was in Gaza – each was an ammunition depot, a stockpile of rockets and explosives intended for use against our civilians. Only later would he find out that the targets he hit were precise, truly and accurately identified as ammunition depots, and often mosques.
If you put explosives in a House of God – a church, a mosque, a synagogue – it is no longer a House of God; God leaves that place, even Allah leaves it. It becomes what they have turned it into - an arsenal, a legitimate target. And if you are a mother and you know that this is a Hamas weapons depot, you have no one to blame but yourself if you stay there. Give us 200 meters, be safe and give us 300 meters. You’ll lose your mosque as you deserve to, but you and your children will be safe.
The look in my youngest son’s eyes as he listened to the siren will haunt me for a long time. I can close my eyes and see his face. Worry was there; a bit of a sense of surprise that we were listening live and in real-time to our country being attacked. He was waiting, tensely, for the boom that would come upon impact.
My country is once again a nation at war. How many wars can a person live through, I wonder to myself. How many times must we do this, again and again, until they stop firing missiles at us. The message of hatred I get on Twitter and in the comments here remind me that this really isn’t about those 1967 borders. Each time I ask, they never answer the most basic question.
The Palestine Liberation Organization, the base and forefront of the Palestinian Authority and blood brothers with Hamas, says it was created to fight the occupation and force Israel back to the 1967 lines. Why then, one must wonder, was the organization created in 1964?
There is no answer to that logical question, at least not in English. Though this time, once again, they speak of an occupation that is not 45 years old, but 65 years old. They are, at least some, being honest – it is our very existence they want to deny.
And so, once again, forever and still – they launch rockets at us and we plan and implement. In anger we call them idiots and speak quietly among ourselves about turning Gaza into a parking lot.
And now in more pain than you can imagine, I report that there’s been a direct hit on a home in Kiryat Malachi – three people killed, 2 injured – this is a family we are talking about and not an arms depot. There were no weapons there, just people hoping to survive this latest war with Gaza.
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About the Author: Visit Paula Stern's blog, A Soldier's Mother.
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