Mom of an IDF soldier - December 13, 2021
Week one of 120 weeks of Amir’s service. I am still in a state of disbelief but feel better that I have been able to speak with Amir almost daily during his one hour off. Still, for the first time in my life, I am now admittedly on anti-anxiety medication. I guess my eldest being drafted was my final straw.
The news coming out of Israel is the same but now for me takes on a slightly different meaning. Some highlights of the week: A 15-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammad Nidal Younis shot to death by soldiers while trying to ram a military checkpoint with a stolen family car (subsequent to having a fight with his father). A 14-year-old Palestinian girl from Sheikh Jarrah, Nofoud Jad Araf Hamad, and her mother, a school principal and friend all arrested after the young teen allegedly stabbed her Jewish neighbour. Nofoud’s East Jerusalem home is one of dozens’’ under immediate demolition order to make way for Jewish settlers. Palestinian demonstrators clashed with IDF at a West Bank border post with 63 Palestinians wounded and one demonstrator killed.
Though presented in opposing ways by much of the media and leadership, the stories are interconnected and showcase the daily tragedies. The Palestinian teens identified as ‘terrorists’ in Israeli media and as ‘Martyrs’ by Palestinian press. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised the security forces for the ‘swift capture of the terrorist'. Another 14-year-old ‘terrorist’ though at least she was not killed on the spot. Mohammad is the 17th Palestinian child shot and killed by Israeli forces or civilians in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of 2021. I can only imagine the pain and suffering of the Palestinian parents attempting to influence their teens growing up under the occupation. I hope to God my son will never be forced to fire a weapon at anyone.
Amir was always a good boy. A strong, tall 6’2 and highly intelligent teen, he always did immediately as he was told, thus ready to follow orders. Still, the first week in the battalion he is feeling a bit isolated and miserable noting that he is not like the other boys around him, many of who are apparently ‘gunning to be here’ and ‘unlike his hippy friends’. Most of the new recruits volunteered for this specific elite IDF posting, whereas he was forcibly placed there, despite saying he was uninterested in any combat positions. The morality thus far taught to them seems normal: no cruelty, no raping, no destroying, no making fun, guns are not toys – moral code of ethics at all times and moral responsibility to assist anyone in need.
I looked up some information on Amir’s battalion whose motto is ‘always first’ as their task is to breach through obstacles and handle explosive threats. Found some instructional video with soldiers about securing ‘hostile territory’ and a Facebook website of the battalion with eager smiling boys posting with large guns. Looks like kids playing games except the fire arms are real. For the army (as well as military groups), teens make excellent soldiers. For many, it all seems fun and games and eighteen years old make the perfect recruits. Just out of high school, eager to leave the nest, love to see some action and adventure, little thought to death or consequences. Teens shooting other teens while us old people direct or watch from the sidelines in obliviousness or horror. At least Amir is not eager. He will receive his weapon next week but said is not looking forward to learning how to shoot it. He will try to be the medic in the unit. I breathe some sigh of relief, I guess I did have some influence on my boy. But wary of what lies ahead.