“ Less than six years ago Israel began Operation Cast Lead to deal with constant rocket fire from Gaza. I was a new immigrant and recently drafted soldier in the IDF. I had been in Israel in 2006 during the Second Lebanese War, so unfortunately dealing with sirens and running to bomb shelters was not new to me.
“Being a soldier, of course, gave me a new perspective. I was stationed outside of Tel Aviv, which then was out of range of the rockets, in a unit charged with searching for missing soldiers. I lived in this surreal world, in which I would go home each night as if everything is normal, but during the day be closely attuned to the fighting in case a soldier was kidnapped. I was able to see firsthand how valuable each soldier is to the army and the entire country.
“Our army invests a lot of time and energy accounting for every single soldier. Even when soldiers are killed, retrieving their bodies becomes a sacred task, so much so that we are willing to release hundreds of terrorists to bring them back for a proper burial. The sanctity of life and honor of one’s memory are vital values that bind us together in Israel.
“There may be many disagreements within our society, but in difficult times like these the people come together. Like a family that has arguments and fights, but in the end of the day we are a family and will support each other when needed. I am proud to be a part of this family.
I am proud to be called an Israeli.”
Yonatan, Israeli citizen