We stayed in our Hamas mansion at the very front. I soon discovered that waiting in the same place was more dangerous than advancing. By sitting in the same house it became obvious to Hamas where we were located. And although we had defensive positions set up in the windows, it drained us physically and mentally to stare at the same empty alley or neighborhood. The problem is that you knew the moment you let down your guard someone would come strolling down the road with a suicide belt of explosives or an RPG. But you also had to guard yourself against shooting recklessly and possibly hitting our own troops.

We continued searching Hamas houses. We found uniforms, AK-47s, RPGs, etc. At one point Captain America found a safe. He placed C4 explosives on the safe to detonate it and open it. We are the missile platoon, however, and not the explosives platoon.

He used just a tad bit too much...

He succeeded in opening the safe, but blew up everything inside as well. We watched thousands of dollars, pounds, francs, shekels, dinars, etc., fly around the room and burn.


I personally got a kick out of my two discoveries. I found the popular "Grand Theft Auto" video game next to a computer. This video game, however, had been edited by Muslim hackers and was now "Grand Theft Auto: Gaza City," complete with all street signs converted to Arabic and the characters themselves made to look more Arab.

We also found an official Hamas "end-of-training" t-shirt, very similar to the t-shirts we receive in the IDF at the end of our advanced training. I was tempted to take the shirt and write on it, "I went to war in Gaza and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!"

On a more serious note we received bad news about the Maslul (on-the-job training) platoon of our battalion. They had been clearing out houses. Their platoon-commanding lieutenant was one of the best friends of our platoon-commander, Captain America. He had been storming a Hamas house. He climbed the stairs cautiously. His head was slightly above the level of the second floor. A booby trap exploded and sent shrapnel into his mouth and through part of his brain. He survived, but was obviously in critical condition.

The saddest thing about this story is that he had just gotten married a week beforehand. He had just received orders that were preparing to go in. He had already planned his wedding and barely received half a day out of the army. He literally got married and returned just before we went into Gaza.

I am unsure of his current condition. Last I heard he was able to recognize his wife and family and squeeze when the doctor said squeeze, etc. But he is currently unable to communicate. But that might be because of all the tubes in his mouth, etc.

I would normally write his name here so that people may pray for him. But for privacy purposes I have been asked not to disclose it.

These are the questions that every soldier thinks about after the war. Why not me? Why him? Of the few casualties in Operation Cast Lead, and of all the soldiers, why him? Why the endeavoring and aspiring lieutenant, the newlywed? Why not the soldier without a family? Why not the soldier that is corrupt and only there because of the mandatory draft?

This is the way we think as humans. This is also the way Job was thinking and presented the exact same question first to his friends and then G‑d Himself after, in a single moment, he lost his entire family and all his possessions. "Why me? It's not fair."

G‑d's only real answer to Job was that He had a plan. That He created the world and knew what He was doing.

I am sure that rabbis have multitudes of comments on the matter. I, however, am not a rabbi. I am merely a soldier. I did my best not to think about it too much. All I could do was mention his name in my prayers and continue my part in the Operation. The rabbis would continue to fight to discover the mysteries of the universe. I would meanwhile continue to fight the terrorists down the street... then ask the rabbis for their conclusions afterwards.