Thursday, November 15, 2012
From Beit Yisrael to Gaza
Taxi driver yesterday had the radio on in the cab and was fuming about all the people hesitant to respond to the rocket fire on the south with a full ground assault.
He was a 40ish heavyset guy, no kippa on his shiny bald head, hunkered down behind his steering wheel with grim determination like all the traffic around us was out to get him.
"It's time to deal with this Gaza situation once and for all" He declared. "How many rockets do we have to take? The world hates us anyway, who cares what America or Europe or anyone has to say. We need to send in the army and clean out all the terrorists to protect our people."
In my mind I was thinking that there is no such thing as a "sterile operation". No way to mount a ground assault without further casualties. That the folks in charge have to weigh the risks of the rockets with the risks of escalation. That nothing is that simple.
"Those idiots on Facebook" he said "What are they waiting for, someone to be killed? A whole family to be wiped out? The Israeli army must act now to prevent an even greater tragedy and I should know. Do you remember Beit Yisrael?"
I nodded that I did, of course I did. It was a Motzei Shabbat back in 2002, we had guests and I was clearing up from Shabbat when I saw the flickering of the news on my neighbour's TV in the apartment across the yard, harsh reality breaking into the lingering quiet of Shabbat.
"It was my brother-in-law's family that was decimated in that suicide bombing" he continued. "So many children gone in a flash. They went for the Shabbat, for a family bar mitzvah, the Rabbi said it would be a great zkhut (merit) to keep a whole Shabbat and they tried, but by that afternoon they'd had enough of the crowded building and cramped conditions. They went out to leave and this yeshiva student pleaded with them to stay, it was only a couple of hours until the end of Shabbat. But they started to leave anyway, their son was sitting in the car listening to music, they were already out the door of the building."
And he proceeded to tell me the whole long story of that grisly night in March 2002 from the perspective of his family who were attending the bar mitzvah, how the tragedy unfolded. How the wife and sister were saved by going back to get a jumper because the girl felt chilly. How the son sitting in the car was killed. How a yeshiva student was holding the baby as the father folded the stroller into the car, and the baby was saved. Later the yeshiva bohur came to the shiva and Rav Benayahu blessed him and his wife that Hashem would give them with twins within a year, and it came to pass.
I just sat there speechless the whole way, grateful that for once Junior had dozed off and the boys were too young to understand.
"And that is why I don't understand these people sitting comfortably in Tel Aviv like it's just rain in the South. That's why Tzahal (Israel Defense Forces) must act. Anyone who doesn't believe in miracles doesn't understand the reality of all these rockets raining down on the south and leaving so few casualties in their wake. You know how much family I have in the South? If God Forbid a rocket scores a direct hit on a house and someone else has to go through what my family went through, it will be far too late"
I had nothing to say to that.