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      A Soldier’s Mother
      by
      One mother’s journey through the Israeli army with her sons

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      Paula R. Stern is CEO and founder of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company offering documentation services and training seminars. She made aliyah in 1993 when her oldest son was 6 years old. In March 2007, her son Elie entered the Artillery Division of the Israeli army and Paula began writing about her experiences as A Soldier’s Mother. The blog continues as Elie begins Reserve Duty and her son Shmulik is now a soldier. She recently opened a publishing house, helping other authors fulfill their dream to publish.

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      Tevet 11, 5770, 12/28/2009

      A Year Ago...A War Ago



      It's been a year since the Gaza War. A year since I knew the taste of fear to a depth and reality beyond any I had experienced. There was no comfort, no sleep until I drove down and saw Elie for myself, when the war had ended. To mark this day in my own quiet way, I turned back...back a year and read the words I'd written then. Last year, on December 27th, as Israel knew it would go to war, I wrote (Going to War):
       
          No nation can allow its citizens to be bombed regularly. No nation can withstand what we have taken on a daily basis. Whether Israel's leaders can withstand the storm of international protests is yet to be seen; whether it will finally act to defend its own citizens is unknown.
       
          What is known is that Israel's soldiers are ready and want to see this done correctly. They are not celebrating this offensive, as Palestinians have celebrated successful terror attacks in the past. Rather, they are glad that finally, the government has given them the right to do what they have been trained to do. Tonight, Elie sleeps at the base where he has been for the last few months. I do not know where he will be tomorrow or the next day. It could be south to Gaza; it could be north in anticipation of Hizbollah causing trouble on the northern border; or it could be staying where he is while other troops are moved around.
       
          I'm not sure how I'll know, if I'll know, and that is one aspect of what scares me. It's so interesting how quickly the sense of calm can fly away. Tonight, being the mother of an Israeli combat soldier is a very scary thing, but then again, being an Israeli living in Sderot and Ashkelon and Netivot and so many other places has also been unbearably frightening lately and maybe this action will help.
       
          The news just said Israel is moving tanks into the area. Perhaps the ground forces will move in sooner than I'd thought. This was a huge mistake Israel had made in Lebanon, waiting too long to send them in. In the meantime, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said today:
       
              "There is a time for calm and there is a time for fighting, and now is the time for fighting. The operation will expand as necessary. I don't want to mislead anyone. This won't be easy and it won't be short, but we must be determined. The time has come to act. We do not go to this clash gladly, but neither are we afraid of it. We will not let terrorists hurt our citizens or soldiers. We will do what is necessary. For weeks Hamas and its affiliates lobbed Qassams and Grads and mortar shells on the towns and communities of the South. We have no intention of allowing this situation to continue."
       
          There is a time for calm, and there is a time for fighting, said our Defense Minister. As much as I could wish he was wrong, I know that in this, he is right. It is long past the time to have stopped these rockets and missiles and mortar shells, long past the time that diplomacy has failed.
       
          May God bless our air force and our tank division, our navy and our artillery and our ground forces. May each unit be protected, as it seeks to protect. May it accomplish its task and return home safe and whole. May God bless our sons and daughters and keep them safe. The time has come to fight.
       
      It's a year later. The fight came and went...and still we are a nation at war, a nation that buried a father of 7 last week after yet another brutal terrorist attack.