Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jerusalem Installment #4: Legend and Heartbreak

Two stories about the war in Gaza are still spreading like wildfire here in Israel.

The first story is that 2 Israeli soldiers in Gaza were told by a woman as they were searching house to house that they should not enter a particular house and she told them to go in the opposite direction. They listened to her and saw the house that they had intended to infiltrate, explode in a massive fireball. "Who are you" they asked the woman who saved their lives. She responded, I am Mother Rachel and she walked away.

The second story is of the father of a young soldier killed by friendly fire. He televised a message to the Israeli tank unit that caused the mishap and the tank unit received the message, even as the family sat shiva (Jewish week of mourning).

Here is an excerpt from Matthew Wagner's article (Jerusalem Post Jan 11, 2009)titled, Family of IDF soldier Who Fell to Friendly Fire: 'Everything that happens Must be for the Better'
Rabbi Amos Netanel, whose son Capt. Yonatan Netanel was killed by friendly fire several weeks ago in Gaza, told the Israel Defense Force tank crew that fired the fatal shot he wasn't angry. "You did not kill Yoni," Netanel told them. "Yoni sanctified God's name at the exact time that it was decreed in the heavens. You were the sacred messengers who carried out God's will. Better that your pure hands kill him and not the defiled enemy hand. Evildoers could not have hurt him." At Rabbi Netanel's request, the IDF Chaplaincy helped him contact the tank crew, currently fighting in Gaza, before the Sabbath.

"The family very much wanted to communicate our message to the soldiers before the Shabbat," Netanel said. "It was something that we wanted to resolve."
Netanel told the tank crew that he and his family were conscious of the fact that casualties caused by friendly fire were part of every war. "Under this working assumption Yoni went out to war, under this working assumption we sent him out to battle. We accept this as part of the struggle to overcome the enemy, and we love you and embrace you." We cannot control what happens in this world. We can only control how we react."