Shalev Responds to the War

By Shalev Habaz, Shaliach to Mosh 2023

I woke up in the morning to the sound of missile strikes in my city of Lod. Quickly, I found myself on my way to a base near Jerusalem with a large bag into which I packed everything I thought would be useful and/or help me stay sane. While preparing to leave for military missions, putting together my combat gear and medical supplies (my role is a combat medic, meaning I'm a fighter who can also provide medical assistance in the field) from ranges, I felt detached, completely disconnected. I suppressed all emotions, I learned to put them to the side so I could manage to act.

Meanwhile, my best friend called, asking me to take care of myself, and he described the horrors he saw in the Telegram groups of the Hamas militants. He described horrors I couldn't even imagine in my worst nightmare, and I asked him to stop.

I felt myself becoming numb, and then anger started to build up. Mixed emotions. How can you witness such atrocities and still believe there's someone to make peace with? Amidst all the chaos, my friends and I are at the military post. Some of them are fathers to children and have wives. We make jokes and eat well, live life in the moments between military actions (הקפצות) and guard duty (שמירות).

I received messages of concern and care from people I hadn't spoken to in years, even the Singaporean guy I met while traveling. It's difficult to clearly say who is taking care of whom more: me serving to protect my family and friends at home or them sending love to me.

In the days since Shabbat, I tried not to watch all those videos on Telegram. You know what I'm talking about. But curiosity got the best of me, and I watched. With everything I saw, I also knew that there were horrors that even they didn't dare to share because they understood how it would affect them later on. I tried not to let it get to me, but on Friday morning, almost a week later, I couldn't be apathetic anymore, and I cried.

Yes, it may sound cliché, but perhaps love is our best weapon against those who perpetuate hatred and are willing to sacrifice themselves and their brothers to harm us even a bit and entangle us in this cycle of violence and hatred.