A Soldier Returns from Gaza – Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
(dailyalert.org, Aug. 7, 2014)
First Sgt. Max, from Great Neck, New York, joined the IDF through the Machal program – a 14-month service for foreign volunteers. He chose to serve in the Golani Brigade.
“We spent a week inside [Gaza],” he said, “and didn’t see a single person.” They heard the air force strikes ahead of them and the artillery all around. They took fire “from every direction” and barreled out of their armored vehicles when they reached tunnel shafts, but they never saw the enemy’s face.
His own platoon leader was wounded along with several other soldiers and, in the absence of an officer, he was given command of the platoon. Suddenly, all eyes were on him.
He led from the front, like all low-to-mid-level Israeli officers, and realized that “every movement I make, everything I do, will impact them in the most significant way.” A twitch of fear, a moment’s hesitation – all would be picked up on immediately by the troops.
He said that despite the intensity of the battle in Shejaiya, the most memorable moments of the war were the reception the soldiers received from the rural communities of Kfar Maimon and Nir Moshe, near Gaza.
People came from everywhere, carrying home-cooked food and insisting on feeding them. Adults took mops from their hands and cleaned the bathrooms for them. “There’s nothing like that anywhere else in the world,” he said.