Wow, it’s been a while since I posted. One, I want to apologize, but two I want to explain that it is more or less a representation of my mental state right now. I get out of the army in 5 months and have a lot of conflictual feelings and thoughts which I will touch on later.
Kav Aza – the Gaza Border – is probably one of the most conflictual zones in the world. It is the frequented subject in the UN, and subjected to the unfortunate fact that everyone has an opinion and a solution, despite that they have never personally been. Have never seen the reality.
This is where I am stationed. Having made the switch from trainee to operational soldier, life has also changed drastically. Some aspects have definitely improved. The food is far better, we have graduated to heated rooms, and our commanders joke around with us like friends. Day to day, the schedule is far more relaxed. We have bomb shelters and ceramic vests and a towering concrete wall that guards from anti-tank rockets but it’s pretty peaceful most of the time. We work out and order pizza, complain and gripe, wrestle and have mud fights, standard soldier stuff. It’s easy to forget how near we are to Gaza, with the quiet fields and blue sky. But then the siren will suddenly sound, signaling that someone has shot at soldiers or infiltrated Israel, and my heart starts to flutter and my stomach drops as I quickly grab my gear and climb into the jeep. And it seems all too real again.
We sit along the border and I watch people on the other side doing exactly the same. They watch us, they note our schedule, our rotations, our reaction time, our manpower. Those along the border are undoubtedly Hamas soldiers/informers. It’s surreal to stand and watch your enemy, to be within a kilometer of people who would likely slit my throat without blinking an eye. I wonder what they are thinking, if they hate me. I don’t hate them. I feel sad for them, I wish that it wasn’t this way, I wish there wasn’t a fence. But I know that that’s not an option. We need it.
Our jobs are monotonous and long, guard duty, patrols, and ambushes. Kav presents a whole new challenge, one that came as a relief after the struggles of training, but quickly has become burdensome. Boredom and loneliness are my worst enemy. Our schedule is 17 days on base and four at home. 17 days which feel like one long uninterrupted eternity. There aren’t days and nights, only on-duty and off-duty. It’s hard to remember what day it is and even harder to think of all of your friends at home or in other various courses.
But as I struggle with the day to day, the thought of releasing in 5 months is confusing. Part of me longs to be a civilian again, to go to college and be with my family, to not have to just smile and nod when idiots yell at me. But then again, leaving something that has been my life for 2 years will be incredibly difficult. Finding meaning in day to day existence, leaving my friends behind, and trying to fit back into a world which feels so far away right now seems daunting. How will I be able to suddenly put down my Negev, and take off my uniform one last time?
And I don’t have an answer. I just hope I choose the path that I don’t regret.