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      A Soldier’s Mother
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      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.

      Links to the Author's blogs:

      Shevat 6, 5771, 1/11/2011

      Rockets are Falling Again


      Four yesterday, several more in the past week. It's the build up before the action; it's the question before the answer. How long will the Israeli government allow our people to live under rocket fire? The answer, as always, is in the results. We are waiting, as we always do, for the rocket that doesn't miss, for the mortar that strikes true.

      When it does, it will kill someone, perhaps, God help us, a child, a pregnant woman, a mother, a father, a much beloved grandfather, the grandmother who cooks for the whole family and makes it what it is. It might, again, be a few children playing in a yard. It might, again, hit a school just moments after the children have left the room. It might, again, hit a child, an only child of parents who waited to long to bring him into this world.

      It will crush their lives forever. There is no tomorrow when you lose your today. So we wait until it happens, a bit angrier this time because we have been here before and even though we may have learned part of the lesson, in that we know what will happen, we haven't learned enough.

      According to the IDF 20 rockets & mortars were fired from the Gaza Strip during the first 10 days of 2011.

      We are still stupid enough to care what other countries say, and other countries are as stupid and blind as they were in November, 2008. One hundred and twenty-four rockets and mortars "fell" that November. What a silly word - "fell." Of course they did not fall. They were intentionally launched at civilian areas to maim and murder our citizens. These rockets and mortars were not fired at military targets, but at schools, homes, synagogues, hospitals, the heart and soul of our people, our children.

      Today 171 truckloads of goods entered Gaza via Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings, and 2 truckloads of flowers & strawberries entered Israel.

      Yesterday, four rockets were fired at Israel. Today, one rocket was fired at Israel.

      Exactly two years ago, as we were days away from my youngest son's bar mitzvah, I was facing the reality that my oldest son might not be there. He was stationed near Gaza, mere meters from the border and well within the range of the same kind of rockets being fired today. It was a nightmare from which I could not awaken. I spent my days in a daze of fear and tears.

      For many months, even years, I had been trained to be thankful each time they announced that the rocket had hit in an "open area." Suddenly, in the middle of the war, I realized my son was stationed in one of those open fields. What am I supposed to pray for now? I wondered.

      There are no words, even now, to explain what I felt during those horrible days. History will tell you it was really only about 18 days of war. My heart will tell you it felt so much longer. On the last day before my son's bar mitzvah, I got the call from Elie that they were releasing him and he could come home. I grabbed some food, my phone and the car keys and went driving down there, trying to drive slowly enough that I wouldn't break any laws, desperate to see him.

      Most of the last few minutes were a blur to me. I remember taking a wrong turn and wanting to cry. I remember seeing him for the first time in weeks and thanking God for this most precious of gifts - a son safe and coming home. One of the first things Elie said to me on the ride home still rings in my ears.

      "Ima," he said, "they didn't let us finish."

      No, Elie and the other soldiers knew that their work was not done; that Gaza would fire more rockets. There were political reasons for stopping the war, not military ones. Barack Hussein Obama was coming into office and Israel was told to pull itself into order. I didn't hear Obama condemn the rocket attacks yesterday. I didn't hear Obama condemn them today.

      Maybe he too is waiting for a child to die. Maybe only when our blood flows in the streets will our government understand that what wasn't finished two years ago, has come back to haunt us again. For one year after a soldier finishes his mandatory service, he is not called to the Reserves. The catch is that the army does call them that first year and the soldier has the choice of going or not (unless there is a war). Elie's year ends in a bit over two months.

      I can't let myself think of another war yet. But five rockets in two days. The world has to understand -  unless they demand that Hamas stops, this will again be the build up before the action; the question before Israel's strong answer. And this time, this time maybe we will finish what should have been done two years ago.