On November 14th 2012, Israel has decided to take action and respond to the terror attacks committed by Hamas towards Israel soldiers and civilians, operation “Pillar of defense” officially started with the killing of Ahmed Jabari, chief of the Gaza military wing of Hamas.
At that time I was still a soldier with only 4 months left to the service, I was the battalion medic, along with my paramedic we were the commanders of all the medics in our battalion.
I was told there is an urgent meeting of all the officers with the commander of the battalion, (the head chief of the battalion), on this meeting he told us about the recent developments in the situation and that we need to get everyone ready and head to the borders for the option we go into Gaza, this includes a lot of preparations but also what we have been training for for a long time.
My paramedic started to call the soldiers from reserves, when I started to prepare all the medics in the battalions and check the equipment and taking out things from storage.
I remember that this entire time I had a lot of thoughts going on in my mind, I guess they were worries mainly, for my family, my friends, my soldiers. I was trying to keep myself busy in order to repress those thoughts, after about 4 hours me and my paramedic met in order to see what progress we made, she was sobbing, crying, she just came back from another meeting which they showed the operation plan for our battalion, “we’re going to be like ducks in a fire range over there” she said. And I will never forget, that’s when it hit me and made me think that we might actually die there, I hugged her and told her everything is going to be fine and she has nothing to worry about even though I had no idea what’s going to happen over there, when I saw the plans later I thought the same.
At 4 am our “Hummerboulnce” military hummer that is converted to ambulance stopped in the middle of nowhere, outside the Gaza strip, we get off and after about a minute we hear a siren goes off from a distance, the deputy to the head commander of the battalion who was there with me tells me to run to some sort of trench next to me, this downhill some kind of trench is my safe place for the following week.
We started to set up everything and slowly more forces joined us and more vehicles, tanks and supplies came as well.
The operation was going on for a week, when every day we were told this is the day we go in, and then they postpone the command for another 12 or 24 hours. One week doesn’t sound that bad but it is a lot when you are out there, and food is bad, cigarettes running out and you have nothing to do. But lovely families took the chance and came to where we are and brought home cooked meals, people donated candies, snacks, cigarettes (unfortunately it is a big deal when you are a soldier), and we had long conversations with each other, got to know people better, everyone were willing to help me to bring food, and share everything you have with others, we built and dug better trenches and used our creative mind using supplies we had in order to make our life more convenient.
One thing never came out from my head, every time I was talking to one of our reserve soldiers I asked him what’s it like in there? What is it like In Gaza? And they all said the same thing. “You’re not going to come out the same way you came in”
Some of them meant mentally some of them meant physically, one thing I do know for sure today, this experience had changed me, a lot, even though I was just outside, I guess you don’t have to go into Gaza to change who you are.