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While you were in Gaza - a sister of an IDF soldier writes about the past month

by Noga Gur-Arieh

August 14, 2014 | 8:40 am

Bareket-Paz and her brother, Snir.

Bareket-Paz Gozlan's brother, Snir, is a soldier at the IDF Combat Engineering Corps. During the past month, he was in Gaza, almost unreachable. Now, upon his return, Bareket decided to share with Israelife's readers her thoughts and feelings during the almost unbearable month.

 

"Thank God they boy is back home.

Good news is easy. We all have out unwritten list of people to call when we hear good news. Those who would be the most happy for us. When it comes to bad news, though, things happen too fast, and somehow everyone knows before you even fully digested the news yourself.

Last month, I got acquainted with a new type of news - neither bad nor good, but uncertain. “My brother enters Gaza” - I stared at my phone for nearly an hour, going through the contact list. I couldn’t find even one person I wanted to share the news with. It’s not even a matter of friendship, or people I can count on to be there for me. I just felt like a massive rock just landed on my shoulders, and it felt unfair to ask other people to help me carry it. Eventually, I shared my news via Facebook. I posted a few sentences, with my thoughts and feelings. Simple. Then, I ignored phone calls and basically disappeared until I felt I was able to pick myself up and be strong enough so that no one would feel like they need to hold me, keep me from collapsing.
The first night I couldn’t sleep.

I turned the radio on, because I knew that TV, with the nonstop commentaries, would drive me crazy, and also because the radio plays music, and music, even in difficult time, can calm anyone down. The moment they announced the ground operation, the actual entrance to Gaza, I was sure we were minutes away from hearing all of our soldiers were killed, because Hamas’ underground tunnels were a trap to get them all in and kill them. I also thought all the talks of the decision makers on how this operation is only a “small matter of several days,” were out of place, but I won’t get into politics now.

I write that this “chip on my shoulder” is as big and massive as a boulder because there are many people involved. There’s me, my parents, his girlfriend and friends, the rest of our family - aunts and uncles and grandparents. We all needed someone to lift us up, and we were all playing this weird game - who will be the first to cry? How many times a day each of us said “everything will be okay?” How each and every one of us is handling the news? I felt like admitting I need someone to strengthen me will bring everyone down. We were like a tower of cards, and I was that one card that if it will shake - the whole thing will collapse.

You also need to understand that even when my brother did manage to sneak a short phone call, it didn’t really calm us down. Things happened very quickly. More tunnels being discovered, more soldiers dying, more wounded, more breaking news. Who knew what could have happened the minute he hung up the phone? I personally spoke with my brother more than two weeks after he left for Gaza. He managed to communicate only once in every few days, when they went outside to get more equipment before going back in. One time he called his girlfriend, and one time he called the house in the middle of the night. My parents picked up the phone and I listened from the next room. I didn’t even let them know I was awake.

The most difficult part was the day they showed the first funerals on the news. When reporters spoke with families, fiance’s and wives, who cried their hearts out above the fresh grave. It was like watching a horror movie, when you can’t chance the channel of close your eyes. Then, the strangest thought made its way into my head: A lot of houses have intercoms, how can the media get pass the intercom before approaching the family for the first time?

I don’t know why this was what I thought about at the time. Maybe because I was wondering what if they will try to reach us…Yes, you think about that a lot, the “what if…” You try not to, you tell yourself that you can’t even think about it and that everything will be okay, but in reality - it just doesn’t work that way. You think about those things, a lot.

On the day of the first funerals, I texted someone I am no longer in touch with. I don’t know why. Maybe because the pressure has been just too much to handle. I got what I wanted, but not what I needed. It just wasn’t fair to get a person who has nothing to do with anything anymore involved. I only realized that after…

During that time, I tried to be as patient and tolerant as possible to the people surrounding me. I tried to answer every question, even when I didn’t want to be asked things. I tried to understand questions that seemed dumb, like “Don’t they return home for a few hours once in every few days?” I tried to contain the pressure and intensity coming from people around me, and not to sink in. I tried to know to hang up the phone right before my voice cracks, to wipe the tears before family dinners, even if my parents tell me it’s okay to let it out. I tried to smile when hanging out with my friends after I wanted to relax and not be alone and even though from the moment they arrived all I wanted was to be alone. I tried to eat, and not get annoyed when people told me I look bad. I tried to respect my mother’s worries every time I left the house and not to get into redundant arguments. Most importantly, I tried to remember that everyone and anyone, in their own way, came with good intentions, and that’s what matters the most.

Now let me finish with the most important thing - Thank God the boy is back home!"

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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