We were in Jabaliyah. Our platoon had been split in half. The first class continued searching houses for weapons. I was with the second class and Sgt. Obama with the missiles. We were still stationed in the six story apartment building.

So I sat there on the third floor next to our SPIKE missile launcher, waiting for orders to start letting the missiles fly. There had been a disagreement between myself and Sgt. Obama over the placement of the launcher. Safety guidelines strongly discouraged launching a missile inside a room as small as the bedroom where I was located. The fiery backblast from the missile needs about five meters (18 ft) to spread out or else the shooter (yours truly) will be severely burned. Sgt. Obama swore that the bedroom of 3 meters (10 ft) was big enough. I disagreed, but hoped he was right.

I also argued about the practicality of shooting the missile at all. The ideal range of the missile is about 2-3 km, maybe even a little more. We were having problems with a few random snipers and some RPG teams at a distance of about 800 m to 1 km. I could hit them, but it would be difficult and honestly not worth the price of the missile, especially seeing that we had numerous tanks stationed nearby.

But nobody ever listens to me.

Later I was at the missile launcher and the RPG team returned. They fired another one. This one came much closer to hitting their target. Fortunately they miscalculated the range, and the RPG dropped just short of the apartment building itself. It exploded mere meters away from the building, missing both me on the third floor as well as the 150 propane tanks on the bottom floor. I almost fell from the force of the blast as it made its impact against the walls and windows of the building.

The tanks maintained a consistent bombardment of the city. Shaft and I began to make a game of it. We began placing bets as to the exact minute that the tanks would fire the next shell. The bets consisted of beer, burgers, and shwarma (roast meat, usually lamb, in a pita) that we pledged to buy for each other. At first I was losing, but then recovered after a double-or-nothing bet. By the time the tanks were done I owed both Shaft and Axel a burger and they owed me three beers. If we all survived it sounded like it would be a nice "guys-night-out" after the war.

Because I was functioning with Sgt. Obama as the lead missile specialist I was temporarily replaced by "Comrade," a Russian-Israeli immigrant as the lead sharpshooter. He continued with Captain America clearing out various building and searching for weapons.

He found a Beretta 9 mm.

But then he turned it in.

I was really upset. The one time I was temporarily replaced as lead sharpshooter he found a $1,500.00 handgun and just got rid of it. Obviously it was prohibited to acquire such things for oneself, but now it will probably just be locked away forever in an obscure gun warehouse and never see the light of day again.

Oh well.

I was also on a personal mission to find myself a pair of shoes. At the beginning of the operation my boots had been badly torn and damaged just from all the foot travel. I was beginning to have a serious problem with water and sand getting in my boots during marches or in the middle of combat, which obviously isn't a good thing. In every house we cleared I searched for a pair of boots of some kind. We stumbled upon a large supply of Hamas military-style uniforms complete with combat boots, but they were all too small. So my next hope was that the following Hamas operatives we killed would have large feet. Fortunately, however, there was no need and our logistics finally got me my new IDF boots after over a week of requesting.

During the entire operation all electricity in Gaza had been cut. In the apartment building we had found a small radio and jerry-rigged a military battery to it. For the first time in almost two weeks we could listen to the news. We still couldn't turn the lights on, however, for fear of snipers and RPG teams. So we sat in the darkness, next to a glowstick, and listened to voices from the outside world. After the news we switched channels to a popular Israeli radio station. We started taking shifts at the missile and lookout points, enabling the other soldiers to rest. I lay down on a mattress on the floor in the faint light of a single red glowstick...

I drifted off to sleep for a few priceless hours.