Rafi Bitterli, from Maalei Adumim, a religious soldier in the reserves who hasn’t been called up yet but could be at any time, spoke with Hamodia of “mixed feelings.”
“On the one hand, I might be called too, and it’s a mitzvah to help defend the nation, and so I want to go and do my part. I’ve talked with some of my friends in the army and morale is high.Everyone wants to help to stop Hamas, if that’s what we’re called upon to do.
“But I also have a family, a wife, and I’m confronted with what might happen,” he said.
“My wife, of course, doesn’t want me to be called up, but she knows that if that happens I’ll have to go. If you do go, she told me, ‘Just think about your job in the army. Don’t think about me. Because if you’re thinking about me, then for sure you’ll get hurt.’”
Bitterli also commented on Golani Mountain Brigade Commander Col. Raslan Alian, who was seriously wounded during the fighting in Gaza on Motzoei Shabbos and was evacuated to a hospital.
“I have a lot of soldiers over there and I need to get back to them,” Alian told doctors at Beersheva’s Soroka Medical Center.
Bitterli knows him personally and says he’s a wonderful leader, “really passionate about defending the country.”
Meanwhile, thousands are taking part in a chareidi initiative in which people are matched to Israeli soldiers in the line of fire. Participants pray for “their” soldier and commit to improving their mitzvah observance in the soldier’s merit.
Devorah, a volunteer with the project, told Arutz Sheva that the public has shown great enthusiasm for the project. “The telephone doesn’t stop ringing. People simply feel the need to make a contribution, even a small one, to Israel’s security.”
“We get phone calls from all kinds of people,” she added. “Alongside worried mothers who call and ask us to pray for their sons, there are so many calls to get names of people to pray for. The unity among various sectors of society is heartwarming.”
Yerachmiel P., a retired lawyer who lives in Zichron Yaakov, told Hamodia that anyone who thinks that the problem is Hamas is mistaken. “The enemy is not in Gaza,” he said. “Hamas is merely Hashem’s instrument to chastise the Jewish people and arouse us to do teshuvah. If we want to end the rockets and the terrorism, we have to change.”
Meir F., an American from Detroit in Yerushalayim, expressed his horror and disgust at Hamas and the other terrorists in Gaza who treat human beings “as assets,” using them for their cause.
“Primarily, it is their own people who they use as human shields by concealing their rocket launchers and the rest in residential areas. It’s like they’re spending them, like assets. Because the more of them that get killed, the more publicity and international sympathy for the Palestinians and calls for the Israelis to stop,” he told Hamodia on Sunday.
When asked his reaction to the deaths of 13 Israeli soldiers in one day, he said that he believed it a mistake for the Israeli government to send the IDF into Gaza on the ground.
“They should have continued bombing them from the air. Why put Jewish boys in harm’s way like this? Only because they fear what the world will say if Palestinian casualties rise ‘too high’ from the bombing of Gaza.”
A mother of a soldier currently in Gaza spoke at a public forum of her concern for her son in danger every moment during the fighting, and how she prays for his safe return, along with all his comrades.
“But,” she said, “I want to add one thing. There are some people who are out in the street demonstrating for or against the campaign in Gaza. Everyone is entitled to his private opinion. But this is not the time to argue and fight among ourselves. We all know why the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed. Now is the time for unity.”
Another person who spoke with Hamodia and asked to be identified only as a “student of Mussar,” recalled a story about Harav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, zt”l: “Once during a visit in New York with Harav Naftali Friedler, they could hear the train pulling into the station as they were just entering through the turnstiles.
Harav Friedler started to run to catch the train, but Harav Dessler held him back by the arm. “If it’s not this train, it will be the next one,” he said. “Never do anything in this world with behillus (in a haste).”
A number of people, particularly elderly ones, have been seriously hurt while running in panic to bomb shelters or protected rooms. Although you should not waste time in taking cover when the sirens go off, that doesn’t mean losing your head and running wildly, he said.
He added that it’s impossible to know exactly in which direction the danger might be. The 16-year-old boy in Ashkelon who was seriously injured last week was hit by shrapnel from a rocket that landed ahead of him on the path to a bomb shelter.