Discovering that Israeli troops aren’t made of Teflon

Marcy Oster

Israeli President Shimon Peres paying a shiva visit for one of the Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza, July 21, 2014. (Mark Neiman/Israel Government Press Office

Israeli President Shimon Peres visiting the family of Banya Rubel, one of the Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza, July 21, 2014. (Mark Neiman/Israel Government Press Office

My children have been following the Gaza operation since it began 15 days ago.

They really have no choice, our television is turned to news reports of the operation during all of my waking hours, which are longer than theirs. My son staring at his iPod this evening complained that he wishes that there was more on his WhatsApp feed and Facebook page than the operation in Gaza. What else would you like to see, I asked him. Anything else, he replied.

The real wake-up moment for my sons, ages 12 and 15, however, came yesterday morning when the Israel Defense Forces announced 13 soldiers killed in Gaza overnight and then in the evening when another seven soldier deaths were confirmed.

Because all of the coverage we are watching is designed for an Israeli audience, we see rockets fired from Gaza getting shot out of the sky by Iron Dome missile batteries, and Israeli streets clearing in 30 seconds when the rise and fall of the warning siren begins. When we do see the aftermath of a rocket crashing through a house or a school building in Israel we are told that no one was home or the building was not occupied at the time of the rocket strike.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Why would my kids believe that our soldiers going into Gaza would suffer a worse fate?

From their incredulous expressions when they learned of the soldiers’ deaths, I could see that they thought our soldiers are covered in personal Teflon, kind of like Bruce Willis in any number of his action movies, when hundreds of bullets are shot at him yet none actually hit him.

My children have been carried away with the wave of vocal Israelis, many of them our friends and neighbors, who had been calling for our troops to enter Gaza ever since the start of Operation Protective Edge. But they didn’t realize that it meant that our soldiers would die.

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Marcy Oster is a JTA correspondent in Israel.