October 13, 2018

Gaza: A soldier's letter

Whilst in Israel over Sukkot, I went down to the Gaza border to see the extent of fire damage caused by Hamas’s flying petrol bombs. It’s distressing to see large swathes of blackened landscape. Our people were so proud to make the desert bloom – whilst our so-called peace partners are into scorched earth and wanton destruction.
Whilst in the border area I visited Black Arrow, a memorial to the many IDF units which operated in the south, including Unit 101 which was commanded by Ariel Sharon. A young girl in a baseball cap was standing at the lookout and asked where I was from. She told me that she had immigrated to Israel from Los Angeles a couple of years earlier. I was scanning the Gaza horizon for incoming fire balloons when she said; “My boyfriend served in Gaza, was injured and lost his sight. We’re getting married next year.” She said this so matter-of-factly, it left me stunned and I was still dwelling on the thought many days afterward.
I recall this again here after reading a letter recently published on an Israeli website from an anonymous soldier, telling the true story of what they face at the Gaza border on a daily basis.
Whilst I empathise with the frustration of this soldier, his letter reminds me of the speech made by Colonel Richard Kemp to the UN in Geneva when he said the IDF had done more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Here is the letter: 

“I monitor the news media and am dismayed how it ignores what’s really going on at the Gaza border fence. These aren’t “riots” but war in every sense of the word. When I go home and tell people what’s really going on here, they’re shocked.
For a long time now, on a nightly basis, we’ve been facing Hamas groups that throw hundreds of grenades and petrol bombs at us. They fire at us from within crowds of women and children so that we are prevented from responding. Not that we would otherwise shoot them because the rules of engagement for opening fire are confused and frustrating. All of this goes on against a backdrop of powerful exploding balloons and fires that fill the air with black smoke.
We don’t approach the border fence because it is rigged with land mines and explosives which are hidden in all sorts of things; even the inside of Hamas flagpoles. Hamas has studied our weaknesses and is taking full advantage of the situation.
They send children to break through the fence and they come towards us close enough to see the whites of our eyes. We then have to withdraw leaving Hamas to destroy our positions. We are not allowed to return fire and, instead of going on the attack, we have to take cover due to warnings of sniper fire.
We have been abandoned on the battlefield. We feel alone. This week there were warnings of the incendiary balloons being loaded with chemical substances!
And it’s not true that we haven’t suffered injuries. Perhaps not mortal injuries but many soldiers have been wounded in these clashes. The fact that there haven’t been losses on our side is a mystery which can only be explained as Divine protection from Above.
I write this so that Am Yisrael will know the truth of what is going on here.”

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