by Lt. Oz Lomas
Wars are a dirty business. I don't think there is a single soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, or a single civilian in the country, who is happy to put himself or any of his relatives into that business. Nevertheless, it was clear to all of us that it was the right, the necessary, thing to do and that it had to be done.
It has already been a year. Can you believe it? On one hand, it seems like it has been forever. On the other, there is a sense that it was only yesterday. The pictures from the days of Operation Protective Edge still race through your head, the feelings are still sharp, and the memories have not faded. I can imagine them alive. Alive, with us.
Where would we all have been in the year that passed after Protective Edge? Benaya would already have been married to Gali, Hadar to Edna, and Liel would definitely be having fun somewhere, as he captured another mountain peak and more people with his smile. Yes, I absolutely miss them.
I miss the time when military service was child's play and the scariest thing that could happen was Benaya getting angry again that we were not doing the work properly. The tiring, annoying, blessed daily routine that only an imaginary enemy could threaten.
But that is the price of war. There is no room for naiveté. No room for fear.
I think that is the thought that goes through every soldier's mind the moment before he knowingly walks into the lion's den. The thought that makes it clear to your body, your senses, that you are about to enter a place where you will be in constant danger, both physical and mental, and that you have to survive. Survive and come out stronger. Experiences like that change you, burn something new into you, leave an impression. And sometimes scars. But no one ever promised it would be easy.
Wars are a dirty business. I don't think there is a single soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, or a single civilian in the country, who is happy to put himself or any of his relatives into that business. Nevertheless, it was clear to all of us that it was the right, the necessary, thing to do and that it had to be done. The days when the Israeli public was a punching bag for every enemy are over. And we are here to make sure they do not return.
Throughout our history, the history of the Jewish people, nothing came easy. We always had to pay some price. It was a heavy price, and if I were asked, I'm not sure I would be so quick to pay it. But it had to be done. And it is a good thing that no one asked me.
I learned some important things from the war. About how in times of crisis the collective responsibility of our people, which is sometimes hard to see, comes out. Suddenly people you didn't think were capable of it demonstrate courage, leadership, and responsibility, on and off the battlefield. I'm talking about all of us.
You learn to appreciate the present, the simplicity and innocence of day-to-day life. To appreciate them and love them.
You learn to go on despite what you miss. To know loss, taste pain, but move forward with your head held high.
You learn what true comradeship is, which we expressed wordlessly, through actions, in battles and after them.
You learn to depend on yourself and your comrades, to help and be helped by others.
You learn that with all the complexity and the difficulties we went through and those that will come, nothing -- absolutely nothing -- can take the place of home.
Because we have no other country.
Lt. Oz Lomas served as commander of a Givati Brigade reconnaissance unit during Operation Protective Edge alongside the late Lt. Hadar Goldin and Maj. Benaya Sarel.
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