When Israeli headlines hit close to home
Which is why when I called my daughter to wish her a Shabbat Shalom at around noon on Sunday, I hadn’t heard any of the reports. Those reports stated that terrorists from Sinai had infiltrated Israel at the Egyptian border where my daughter is stationed and had opened fire on soldiers there, wounding some, before being killed by other IDF soldiers.
I got her answering machine, but didn’t leave a message, knowing that she’d see the missed call and return it when she got a chance. And I went back to cleaning the house.
She did call back about an hour later, sounding extremely animated and lively. “Did you hear the news,” she asked?
Now, that’s not generally something you want to hear from a combat soldier serving along a ‘hot’ border where African refugees, Bedouin drug smugglers and Arab terrorists of every ilk are regularly attempting to traverse for their own particular means.
“What news? I warily asked, and she unfolded much of the above story, adding some details. Talking in a nonchalant manner like she was describing a school hike, she recounted the play by play and how she commanded the base next to the attack and sent out soldiers from her Karkal Batallion to successfully hunt down the terrorists.
Only later in the afternoon when more details of the attack became known did it become clear that a soldier from a different unit than hers – Natanel Yahalomi – had been killed in the terror attack while attempting to give water to an African refugee.
When we send our children to the army to defend Israel, we know the risks involved, yet we never really think that ‘our kids’ are going to be in harm’s way. Even though during her nearly three years of service, our daughter has taken part in plenty of ‘campaigns’ involving extremely shady characters, this was the first instance that resulted in a casualty among her colleagues.
Unfortunately we get all too used to seeing headlines with ‘IDF soldier killed’ but this time, it sent a shiver down my spine. He wasn’t just a soldier, he was a kid, probably looking forward to getting home for Yom Kippur or Succot, going out with his friends, eating his mother’s home-cooked food, and needling his siblings.
My daughter will hopefully get to do all of that this week, and you can be sure I won’t be taking any of it for granted.