The Gaza conflict began July 8 when Hamas launched rockets into dozens of Israeli cities. Since then, there have been 12 cease-fire agreements, 11 of them broken by Hamas and Islamic Jihad; terrorist organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel. The twelfth cease-fire started on August 26, some 50 days later.
Delivering hydrating backpacks to units at the border.
During the conflict, 71 Israelis were killed; of that number 66 were soldiers. When the rockets began flying from Gaza and slamming into populated areas along the Gaza border, Israel had no choice but to defend itself. The army brought troops from Gaza various sections of the country and thousands of reservists were called up. At one time there were over 85,000 Israeli soldiers positioned at the border of Gaza. Divisions of infantry, artillery, engineer and armored reconnaissance units, were poised and ready for orders. Many had already been stationed along the border for weeks protecting Israeli towns from Hamas insurgents on the ground.
As the troops gathered, I began receiving requests for aid to help the soldiers that had been in the field the longest. The first request came from the Givati Brigade, and was unusual. Even though they desperately needed basics like toiletries, underwear, socks, etc., they actually asked for pizza for 250 soldiers! At first I wrestled with the notion, wanting to be careful with the funds we had, but then felt compelled to fill that request. I went to Ashdod, adjacent to the Gaza border, and ordered pizza.
Before leaving Jerusalem, I took a few bags of Lone Soldier items from the shelves of the Jerusalem Support Center and then stopped in stores in the small towns around Gaza and bought massive amounts of candy, socks, bug spray, deodorant and other things, filling my car to the top and then took it to the soldiers. Because the area where the units were was a “war zone,” I wasn’t allowed to go in; instead they sent army vehicles to me at the border to pick up the supplies. The Givati commander in charge of this unit took the pictures and sent them to me. They were elated and so thankful!
The day after the pizza party, these same soldiers were the first ordered to go into Gaza. As the battle ensued, 13 of these young men were killed in the fighting. The news was overwhelming and heart breaking, to say the least. The one consolation for me was, the small gift from Christians was one of the last acts of love some of these young soldiers received before they gave their lives in defense of their country.
What many fail to consider is that before the Gaza conflict, Israel endured years of terrorist rocket fire into towns and cities along the border with Gaza. Families lived daily running to bomb shelters for protection. Some parents, in order to alleviate the fear, taught their children to play games under desks used for protection. Until you have experienced it for yourself, it is hard to imagine a life-style like that.
One day, as I went from town to town buying aid, the penetrating sound of warning sirens filled the air. I was in 4 different public bomb shelters that particular day. While in a small Israeli town called Sderot, as I was driving, the sirens began sounding. I stopped my car, left it running and darted into a shelter along side the road. There were already a several people there. As soon as I entered the shelter a massive boom shook the small shelter we were in. A rocket had landed just a few dozen yards away damaging a parked car. This has been the existence of tens of thousands of Israelis under the threat of Gaza terrorists.
a sample of a packet given to soldiers. With a towel, shirt, underwear, socks and a note in Hebrew. Translation is on the next picture.
The Gaza conflict ended with Israel striking a devastating blow to the terrorist organization Hamas, destroying over 4,200 strategic targets and killing well over 1000 terrorists. Many of its military leaders were eliminated and it’s arsenal was severely depleted. One source said it will take Hamas ten years to recover, we trust it will not happen. However, it is the hope of all of us living here that this cease-fire will continue; not only for the sake of Israelis and the populated areas that have lived so long under the threat of rockets overhead and tunnels underneath, but also for the people of Gaza. Perhaps in time the diabolical rule of terrorist organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah, will be broken.