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Remembering a War; Still Fighting the Battle

By Paula Stern
12/25/2011, 4:12 PM

Every year around this time, I look back at the posts I made just before and during the Gaza War. It is like scratching a scab. You know you shouldn't; you know you'll make it bleed again if you do; but the itch is there and you scratch.

The candles are burning in the window - we lit the fifth candle. Elie isn't home. He is visiting the United States for the first time since he was a little boy attending his uncle's wedding. He wasn't home the Hanuka before the Gaza War. It is strange reading back, knowing how wrong I was. In this post dated December 25, 2008 called "Life is Never Boring" - I was sure that Elie was heading up north. Sixty rockets had been fired at Israel in a single day and we were sure war was coming. We were right. I was sure Elie would not be involved. I was wrong.

For those of you who have been me through the long haul, I apologize for reposting. It's just interesting to me to see how life has a way of surprising you. We were days away from the war...days away...

I remember it started in late December with uncertainty and waiting. First the air force went in with greater force to stop the rocket fire. On a single day sixty rockets were fired at Israel, daily in the days before and after, dozens were fired. Schools were hit, houses, a mall. People were killed, injured, terrified. All of Israel knew that the violence coming from Gaza was at a level that even we could not sustain.

I knew or feared war was coming on two fronts - as an Israeli and as a mother. As an Israeli, I knew we were headed to war - where else can a nation go when rockets are being fired daily at cities and you know it won't stop until we go in? Hamas was asking for it...begging for it. Normal people would tell you that the leadership of a country would not want its people to come under fire - but normal governments don't hide themselves in bunkers and taunt other nations to kill their people. We would, I was sure, enter any day, First by air, then by ground. Where artillery would come into it, I did not yet know.

As a mother, at the beginning I was so sure that Elie would not be involved. With the perfect hindsight only living through something can give you, I can almost laugh at myself...almost. Elie was very close to the end of his shift in the center of the country at a check point. They were going to be moving his unit north for training and patrolling. Once north, he would face whatever came at us from Lebanon. From Lebanon, not Gaza. I knew...I knew...I knew nothing, not even that I didn't know.

On December 25th, 2008, Elie was still in the center - the war had started for the air force, but ground forces and artillery were not yet in position. A few days later, On Defense Minister Ehud Barak was unusually eloquent as he spoke for all Israelis:

"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."

Sadly, three years later...and we are back where we were then with a government that too often allows terrorists to hurt our citizens and soldiers. We have not done what is necessary. Hamas and its affiliates continue to lob Qassams and Grads and mortar shells at the towns and communities of the South.

Do we have the intention of allowing this situation to continue? Three years later - that is the question.