I ran into my neighbor, Lior, on his way back from work just a few hours ago. He asked me if I had heard the news, or all the noise from the night before. I’m a heavy sleeper, so I didn’t hear the action itself, but I did hear the news. Three soldiers were killed, along with three others who were injured, just a few kilometers from here along the security fence near Kibbutz Be’eri. Their forces went to go intercept a group of terrorists on their way to the security fence when battle broke out between them. One of the soldiers was from Patish, a settlement in our area. Lior was thinking about going to the funeral. I asked if he knew him. “No,” he said. “But he was killed protecting me, defending our country.”
Just across the highway, only a few kilometers from where I live, guys my age are standing guard, watching to make sure that I’m safe. I remember the first time I came to Israel in 2004; one of the first things I noticed was the strong presence of the army. Wherever I am, on a bus, walking in the street, or at the beach, there are soldiers in uniform with their M-16s. The safety of our country isn’t achieved on some far off battleground or by a few unknown names and faces. Our battles are right here, in our backyards, fought by us and those closest to us.
Here, everyone is a soldier. The son stands guard today, but his mother and father once wore the same uniform, and his brother and sister stood guard only a few years ago. Everyone feels the burden of defending our country, and at times, everyone feels the loss.