Tag Archive | hamas rockets

Soldiers Are Just Kids in Uniform

This is a post I wrote in the middle of Tzuk Eitan (Operation Protective Edge, this past summer) and never published.

The first time I came to Israel, I was twelve; I came for my cousin’s wedding and it doubled as a bat mitzva trip for me.  When I saw soldiers they were cool and practically grown up.  Definitely with a lot of responsibility.

The next time I came, I was post high school, studying in a one-year program that would count as part of my degree when I got back.  I remember looking at the soldiers and thinking that we were the same age but living in completely different worlds.  I wasn’t sure which world was preferable; I did know that I owed them a lot and in many ways they were more mature than I was.  I remember thinking that we were so different, but still so much alike.

I’m not the same age as the soldiers anymore; I have a brother who, if he lived in Israel, would be just starting, or about to start, his stint in the army.  I see soldiers, I see high school boys and girls – and I see kids.  Young and innocent, immature, sweet, kids.  I wonder what they want to do with their lives.  I wonder what they’ve been through already.  I wonder, especially when I see soldier couples, if they were neighbors or met during their service, and if they will marry when they get out of the army.  I wonder who will go to Thailand to find himself and who will start studying for a degree.

I look at my youngest brother in law, a year and a bit older than me, and think about what the army has done for him.  Maybe he’s chronologically older than me, but he’s still just a kid.  And being in the army has matured him – a lot.  He’s not all for fighting, like he was at first.  And there are other changes, but I won’t write them.

I look at the kids finishing high school and know that in three years, when they finish army, they will be different people.

Unfortunately, thanks to Tzuk Eitan (Protective Edge), I’ve seen way too many pictures of soldiers on the internet.  Most of them, if not all, were of soldiers who are no longer with us.  Smiling faces of kids, young and innocent.  Kids who were engaged, kids who were two weeks before their weddings.  Kids whose younger siblings are still in grade school and asking the prime minister why this had to happen and why there was a ceasefire.

Kids who had plans for the future, who had their whole future before them.

Of course, some of those killed weren’t kids.  Some of them were career soldiers, or reservists; officers with wives and children.  Some of these career soldiers left behind children who will never know their father – because their father was killed a short while before they were born.

I’m not sure what’s worse – a dead kid soldier or a dead soldier who leaves a wife and five orphans.

I do know that when I see the faces of these kids, smiling faces full of life and hope, I can’t help but smile.  And then I remember that they’re not here anymore.  And I have to ask why.  They were kids!  Kids barely out of high school.  You see it in their jawlines, in their attitudes, in their crooked pubertal smiles and disproportionate noses, in their optimism, in their barely-there facial hair.

Kids.

Like any other kids.

High school kids in uniform.  That’s what they are.

Why did they have to die, and why can’t we respect their deaths, and their families, and make their deaths worthwhile?  Those are questions I don’t have the answer to.

I wish I did.

And I hope and pray that by the time Shlomo finishes high school, we won’t need to fight anymore, because we will have quiet.  Peace – probably will never come.  King Solomon didn’t have peace – the countries were afraid of him.  We don’t have peace with Syria – Syria is afraid to start up with us.  With Egypt we don’t have peace, either – they just hate Hamas, and so do we.  When Jacob’s sons fought and killed all of Sh’chem (Nablus?), they didn’t make peace with their neighbors.  No one came to kill them, because everyone was afraid.  That’s not peace.  But it is the only way we’ll have quiet.

I know that this hope, and prayer, may very well be in vain.  Those who fought in 1948 had the same hope and prayer for their children.  It didn’t happen.  Those who fought in 1967 felt the same way, and prayed that their children would never have to wear an army uniform.  That didn’t happen, either.  Every parent in this country, every soldier in this country, every reservist, hopes and prays that the fighting of today, that the soldiers of today, will be enough, and that the next generation, my generation’s children, will not have to wear uniforms and will not have to fight.

This is what we hope.  This is what we pray.

But as Golda Meir said, “We will not have peace until Hamas loves their children more than they hate us.”

Hamas hasn’t gotten there yet.  And as long as they turn their children into suicide terrorists, we will have to fight them, and so will our children.

I hope, I pray, that the world will wake up, that we will wake up, and that no more innocent high school kids will have to die.

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Woo-woo

It’s the middle of the night.  Shlomo woke up, came to join us, and got back into bed.  I’m nearly asleep again.  Suddenly I hear a familiar, unmistakable sound – wooo-wooo, starting off low, getting higher, then dropping back to the low.  Oh, great.  In the middle of the night.  Do I have to get up?  What happens if I just ignore it?  And what do we do now?

No, the risks are too great.  Yes, I have to get up.  Yitzchak will get Shlomo, find his shoes, and head to the door.  I will find where my hat fell (to cover my hair), find my slippers, and go.  This whole conversation in my head lasts about five seconds.

I bolt upright, planning to find my slippers and hat.

“Chana, what happened?” Yitzchak turns over, startled.

And I realize –

there’s no siren.

It was just a dream.

I was half asleep.  Only half asleep.  And it sounded so clearly that I had no doubt that it was real.

“Nothing, I thought there was an azaka (air-raid siren).”  I lay back down; my heart is still beating fast.  In my stomach, I feel the effects of the adrenalin rush.  It’s a good thing.  I take a deep breath, remind myself that it was just a dream, and try to relax.

I guess this is how Shlomo feels when he dreams of woo-woos.

 Just so that you can hear what I heard (or what I thought I heard).  Ours are slightly louder – or maybe not, it could just be less traffic.  Notice that the cars are stopping.  When there is an azaka, people who are driving are instructed to stop their vehicles, get out, and lay prone on the ground, to minimize the chance of injury.  Because not everyone follows these instructions (and just in general), it is safer to go to the side of the road, which is why everyone is going over to the shoulder. 

Shlomo’s Reaction to the Sirens

Most of you remember me writing about how Shlomo dealt with Operation Defensive Shield.  Suffice it to say that now he is dealing with the situation much differently.  Probably because of a combination of his age and the number of sirens.  In Defensive Shield, he was younger and we only had two or three sirens.  And still, if we forgot to warn him before a drill, he would sometimes get scared.

This time is different.  Much different, much worse.  And I can’t say I blame him.

Shlomo has woken up from nightmares almost every night this past week.  He’s not sleeping well; he can’t sleep well.  A few nights ago he woke up crying that the “shoshanim” (the lights in his room) hurt him.  It’s a story for another post, but suffice it to say that I was extremely happy, because at least it was his normal three-year-old fear, and not another woo-woo (air-raid siren) dream.  Every other nightmare he’s had has been about woo-woos.  He wakes up crying, sleeptalking about woo-woos.

He sleeps with us.  Either he comes to us in the middle of the night, or he insists on going to sleep in our room, or he wakes up in the middle of the night and won’t go back to sleep unless he’s with us.  We let it be.  Yitzchak feels better having Shlomo beside him, even though if you count the seconds, it takes about the same amount of time to pull Shlomo out of his spot by the wall as it takes to pick him up out of his own bed.

During the day, Shlomo goes back and forth between asking for another woo-woo and saying that he doesn’t want one because he’s scared.  He tells me what he does when there is a woo-woo in gan and what we will do if there is a woo-woo at home.   He told me that Friday’s woo-woo didn’t have a boom (the ones in the Iron Dome videos that we show him when he asks for a woo-woo do have booms, obviously, but if you’re in a shelter you don’t usually hear a boom).

Shlomo was sick these past few days.  I think a big part of it – and why it wasn’t just a 24 hour bug – is because he’s not sleeping well.  Which, obviously, is because of the sirens.

He doesn’t want Yitzchak to leave the house without him.  We live on the fourth floor, and the shelter is all the way at the entrance level.  Shlomo could walk down, true, but it would take two minutes and we only have one.  Thank G-d he’s a pretty big kid (height and weight both) and I just can’t pick him up anymore.  When we had an earthquake a few months ago I did, but I regretted it for a few days afterwards and just can’t chance having to run the day after hurting my back.  Obviously, if I had to, I would pick Shlomo up and run, but we are doing everything possible to avoid me having to do that.  So, Yitzchak carries Shlomo down to the shelter.  And because of that, Shlomo is clinging to Yitzchak.  And when I say clinging, I mean clinging – like you’ve never seen a three-year-old do.

I miss the days of Shlomo refusing to go to sleep because he was scared that the “shoshanim” would hurt him.  Yes, it was annoying.  But at least it’s a normal three-year-old irrational fear.  When I go to the bathroom, Shlomo also points out that I don’t fall in the toilet, neither does Yitzchak, and neither does he.  He insists on falling asleep with light.  And it looks like the “shoshanim” fear is instead of the fear of the drain – probably because Shlomo likes to plunge the shower drain and therefore isn’t scared of it.  But all in all, annoying as the “shoshanim” fear is (and sometimes it’s just an excuse to stay up), it’s normal.

Nightmares are not.

And nightmares about woo-woos (AKA air raid sirens) are certainly not.

It makes me mad that my kid is waking up from nightmares every night because of a stupid, inhumane, terrorist group that kills its own children, tries to kill ours, and then blames us for everything.  It makes me mad that because of terrorists – who are murderers, by the way – my kid can’t sleep.

Hamas, and terrorists everywhere, I have a message for you:

אשרי שישלם לך את גמולך שגמלת לנו.  אשרי שיאחז וניפץ את עולליך על הסלע.

This post was written on July 20, while we were waiting for the daily siren, which had not yet come.  Thank G-d, it didn’t come, and hasn’t come – the two in a row on July 19 were the last two so far (watch me jinx myself by writing this . . .).  However, Shlomo is still getting over the trauma, little by little.  It’s going to be a long process, I think.  And Yitzchak and I still jump at unexpected loud noises, especially engines starting up and ambulance sirens.