First and foremost, I want to say that today was a very happy day for me. I finally got my toothbrush! We had been told to place all toothbrushes and similar items that we did not absolutely need for the initial assault into a bag. The bag would then be delivered to us on the morning of the second day after the initial entry.

Yeah, right.

Somewhere along the line our logistics misplaced the bag. So this whole time I had been without any toothbrush or deodorant of any kind. In my mind it was our new, secret weapon against Hamas: eating tuna for a week with no toothbrush in sight! Our breath and body odor alone would kill them. Finally after a week of not being able to brush our teeth logistics sent us all new toothbrushes and toothpaste. I don't know who donated them but I want to truly thank them from the very bottom of my heart. (And for all the other donations, by the way.) I brushed my teeth… twice. I reveled and delighted in the wonderful, minty freshness.

I hope everyone realizes the kind of sacrifices I was making and the hardships I faced for the Jewish people… Just kidding.

We were still in that same house. Waiting. There was some kind of debate amongst the generals as well. Some were in favor of pushing south and proceeding all the way to the edge of Gaza City itself. Others preferred that we exit and then reenter and conquer ****, an area known for weapons storage. (Censored for security). We waited for our orders.

The 1st lieutenant of the Heavy Weapons & Recon Company, Captain Crunch, informed us of another small assignment. There was another neighborhood that needed to be searched. This neighborhood was abandoned but was not a Hamas neighborhood. It was a Fatah area.

Captain Crunch and Sgt. Obama led the squad, checking the neighborhood for weapons. As the lead sharpshooter if there was a locked door I would shoot it. (It works better in the movies). Even after shooting the lock the door wouldn't always open. In such circumstances Danny-boy would simply blow it down with the "Simon." The "Simon" is a "small" flat-head explosive device attached to the end of the barrel of the M4 rifle. Danny-boy would fire a live round. The force of the bullet would then propel the flat, disk-like explosive against the nearby door. The disk would explode on contact, and ideally blow down the door. It usually worked really well.

We searched numerous small houses. These Fatah members apparently suffered financially for opposing Hamas, and were living in small one room shacks compared to the Hamas mansions. It was a unique feeling walking into a small house and seeing a huge photo of Yasir Arafat framed on the wall. We were in a completely different world. But the strangest thing of all was that after I exited the small house and checked the roof I could see the smokestacks from a factory in nearby Ashkelon.

Home was close, and yet it never felt so far away.