Now we made our push forward. Our ultimate target was the city of Jabaleah, just outside Gaza City itself.

The assault was massive. We moved past a group of depots and warehouses. We then began to clear out a tall, six or seven story apartment building. We wanted the Retik, or heavy fire crew, of the Maslul (on-the-job training) Platoon to set up on the higher levels and cover our advance with their .50 caliber machine guns and their automatic grenade launchers.

Platoon 6 and Platoon 8 were in the front, as usual. I worked with my partner, Sgt. Baruch Obama, with Axel and Shaft backing me up from behind.

It was amazing to watch. One thing in particular that I remember was the tracer rounds. The heavy machine guns have a red tracer round every so many bullets so the gunner knows how many rounds he has shot and how many he has left. The red tracers look like lasers, and when the Retik starts firing multiple machine guns at once it is like something from a science fiction movie.

I was surprised when we entered the neighborhood. I had thought the Hamas houses before were affluent. But this was ridiculous. In all of my urban warfare training I had prepared for cheap, cinder block housing and shacks. These houses weren't merely mansions. They were palaces. I had trained to move from dumpsters to piles of debris. In reality I was ducking from one enormous Greek-style pillar to the next, and then charging through a beautiful rose garden. One of them even had a swimming pool in his back yard! The interior was even more elaborate, with marble floors, chandeliers, and even gold paneling in the bathrooms. I had seen few houses in Los Angeles or Orange County, California, that could be compared to these estates. And I was in the middle of the Gaza Strip! If you ever wondered where all that humanitarian funding went, now you know. Half of it went to missiles and AK-47's. The other half, apparently, went to fund the ever-so-essential interior decoration of the "suffering" Hamas Palestinians.

I recalled for a brief moment the non-Hamas Palestinians that I had encountered and their simple residences, as well as the mentally handicapped individual "living" in the shed. If only the world really knew…

But there was no time for that now. I was in the middle of a firefight. Hamas attempted to offer a strong resistance. They had already tossed a handgrenade at our Palchod (Forward Rifleman) Company and had moderately wounded a few of their soldiers. I thought for a second about my friend in the Forward Riflemen, "Koala Bear," from Philadelphia and wondered how he was doing and if he was okay.

I continued to scan the windows and doors of the neighboring mansions for terrorists. Axel and I put random, well-placed bullets into the windows while Shaft used his 7.62 mm MAG machine gun and strafed entire floors. We even saw several terrorists in the manor next door. We fired. We were unsure of the outcome.

We did scare most, if not all, of the terrorists out of the mansions and they made a hasty retreat down the street in order to regroup. It was a bad plan. The moment they left the "safety" of the houses the Cobra Gunship helicopters began to mow them down with their nose-mounted Vulcan cannons. Those that survived the choppers fared no better. Our Platoon 7 commenced firing their highly-accurate mortars into the narrow street. The explosions destroyed everything and everyone. It wasn't a pretty scene.

We had effectively set up a trap. The Hamas operatives resisting us had two choices. They could remain in the houses and be shot by me or blown up by our handgrenades and rocket launchers. Or they could attempt to flee and face death from above via helicopters and/or mortars. It was quite a dilemma with no positive outcome.

In that night alone we confirmed over thirty kills.

It was near dawn. We had been advancing and fighting all night. The final step of our mission was to clear out another six story apartment building. We would be spending the next day or two there, setting up both SPIKE missile positions as well as recon posts.

Because we didn't want Hamas initially to discover we were there we went in quietly and without any shooting. Previously we had entered every house with a coordinated pattern of shooting, grenade throwing, and covering fire from other platoons. With this apartment building we entered "dry," as they say in Hebrew. This term means we did not throw any grenades or shoot, but entered slowly, quietly, and cautiously, ready to shoot only if a threat was identified.

We entered the first floor silently and carefully. It was dark, but the room was full of many identical objects. I peered through my night vision scope but still couldn't identify them. I cautiously walked over, hoping that they weren't what I thought they were.

They were.

"Um… Lieutenant," I hissed to Captain America. "Did you see--"

"Yes, I saw them," he responded. "I know."

About half of the bottom floor of this apartment building was covered by over 150 large propane tanks. I know. I counted them. Each propane tank was about twice the size of the propane tanks commonly used for motorhomes in the United States.

It was not a Hamas trap. The landlord of this apartment building was simply an idiot that saw no problem in storing massive quantities of propane in a residential building.

If we had tossed a grenade in that apartment building or even started shooting like we had been doing all night about half of Gaza would have seen and heard us disappear in a gigantic mushroom of fire. Beyond doubt our entire platoon, maybe even the entire company, would have been killed.

I have been asked if I had experienced any miracles during the war. That was it. That was my miracle