By Rolene Marks
Heavy is the head that wears the crown – or in this case makes the unenviable decision on behalf of a nation to go to war.
I don’t envy any leader or general who has to make this decision.
Over a period of two days, nearly 500 rockets and mortars were fired by terror factions from the Gaza strip into Southern Israel, sending hundreds of thousands of civilians scrambling for safety in their bomb shelters.
One person (a Palestinian from Hebron) was killed when a rocket hit his apartment in Ashkelon, a 19 year old soldier is fighting for his life, a beloved family pet was killed and 68 people have been treated for injuries as well as the horrific destruction of property.
At the moment there is an Egyptian-brokered a ceasefire in place and many have opined that we should “obliterate Gaza” “flatten it totally”. I am very perturbed and offended by this kind of rhetoric.
Please allow me a moment to rant. I share the frustration of many that we need to put an end to the terrorist actions of Iranian-backed Hamas and various other terror factions in the strip for once and for all. These terror groups hold both their own and the civilian population of Israel hostage with their thirst for bloodshed. Many have called for an all-out war with our Gazan neighbours and it is easy to be an armchair general from the safety of our homes, far away for the proverbial battlefield. I am not a military expert and I cannot fathom, like many of you, the difficult decisions Israel’s government, security cabinet and Generals have to make. But I am a human being and holding on to my moral compass, my humanity is sacrosanct.
The decision to go to war or “boots on the ground” is profoundly difficult. War is not glamorous or an easy decision to make. For Israelis, this situation is profoundly painful and as much as we would like to deal a death blow to the likes of Hamas, we are well aware of the consequences.
War is fought on the backs of our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, lovers, friends and colleagues. Some of them don’t return. War is more violence inflicted on our civilian populations. War is experiencing PTSD (which by the way many of us, including me experience at the sound of sirens). War is going to funerals for those fallen and gone too soon. War is sleepless nights because we worry our loved ones in the battlefield have not contacted us. War is our heart stopping every time our phones ring or whatsapp beeps.
War is also suffering inflicted on the Palestinian civilian population who do not deserve to be punished because of the actions of their leaders. War is women, children, the disabled and vulnerable being used by Hamas as human shields. War is our diaspora communities under threat and more anti-Semitism because Jewish communities outside of Israel are seen as the de facto representatives of the state.
I am proud and grateful for our armed forces and security establishment who abide by the strictest code of ethics and conduct. These brave men and women protect us 24/7 while retaining their humanity in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Who are we to behave in a way that is disrespectful to them and fellow innocents by baying for blood? I am proud of a country that takes our duty to be humanitarians even to civilians belonging to an enemy entity very seriously. This is why we continue to ensure that humanitarian aid is delivered to the beleaguered strip unabated.
I hope this offers an explanation. Some of you may disagree, and that is your right. All I am asking is that in a time of conflagration we do not lose our perspective – or humanity.
My gratitude to our brave men and women of the IDF, IAF, and security services, police, first responders and firefighters for exemplifying the best of us and keeping us safe.
“Am Yisrael Chai !”