It was nice to get to the base on Friday and start seeing familiar faces. I haven't seen any of the lads since October of last year, and it was obviously good to see them all doing well. What's strange about miluim and the friendships we all develop is that they stop after we finish the reserve stint. Life for each of us will obviously continue, but our friendships stop once we're out of uniform. The next call up arrives, and the paused friendships start blooming again, with non-stop chatter about recent news and the obvious friendly banter and laughs. Though unlike any other friendships I have, I enjoy the warmth and connection I share with these lads ... My brothers in arms.
The Pill Box
Most of us having seen these imposing structures across the landscape whenever we've been along the 'Green Line' or across it. Within it, 2-3 Israeli soldiers sit with various equipment making sure everything across the landscape is ok. I had the honor of sitting in one with Lior for 24 hours. Though the weather wasn't too kind, I had a really good time. The first few hours we caught up, chatting about our new jobs, aspirations about life in Jerusalem and the ladies in our lives. By the time we had done that, it was almost time for Shabbat. So picture two religious boys, one a Yeminite and one a Ladino Jew, welcoming in Shabbat singing ... Carlebach! Ha ha (Awaiting all the Ashkenazi jokes). Along with Carlebach, we sang some songs in the tunes from our homes and then ate the meal that was brought in from the base. The 24 hours passed rather quickly and despite the small surroundings of the area (Diameter of around 2.5 meters), we managed to comfortably eat, sleep and enjoy our guarding.
As many know, my favorite book is 'A Pslam in Jenin' which goes into the difficulties encountered by Israel in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield. One of my friends in my unit was in the 51 Battalion of Golani which fought in Jenin during the operation. I started discussing what he saw there and it's quite amazing how a (at the time) 21 year old dealt with his first taste of war. What I found interesting was how the fear we all endure evaporates once the first few bullets fly by. "Some bullets flew by my leg. There was no more time for fear after that, we were here to fight," he said, his face expressionless. He lost two friends during the operation, both covered in the aforementioned book. One of them, Shmuel Weiss, fell while pulling an injured friend from danger's way. "I saw them putting the blanket over his body. He saved that kid's (I forgot the name) life.The kid has yet to recover mentally from the event."
While those events have obviously left my friend scarred, he has no regrets about what he did there. "It was a war," he rightfully claims. But as he discussed killing and 'confirmation of the kill', it dawned on me on how much our kids are forced to see at such a young age. The responsibility on our soldiers is incredible, and yet time after time, they do what they have to do and do it well.