Talya Woolf

A return

Headline on Times of Israel: Israel ‘cautiously optimistic’ tonight’s Hamas release of hostages back on track

It’s been a rough week, the ceasefire being criticized (including by me), the hostage negotiations, expectations, anger, disbelief, much more.

I wrote a piece for Thursday, but ToI rejected it. They rarely reject, but they were right. It was a satire piece, but it went too far. It could have been used by idiots who are ignorant of the situation, history, facts. Many people get confused by facts.

So I return to the ‘new normal.’ As did 13 of the hostages.

Photo credit: IDF

I read the article that I had been waiting to read all of Shabbat. And I cried when I saw the pictures and read who had been returned to us, one of whom a child who very much reminds me of my 9-year-old.

How does Hamas decide who gets to go home, who stays trapped beneath the earth? Then again, how did they decide who to murder, decapitate, kidnap?

A better question should be: Why do we let a terrorist organization decide anything?

Yesterday, before the release took place, I had a really bad headache and was in a mood, sitting beneath an invisible thundercloud. It took me all day to pinpoint it.

I don’t trust our government.

Shocker, really. I am pretty cynical (I call it ‘realistic’), but I finally put my finger on it. I don’t believe Hamas has kept all of our stolen people alive (and, of course, they will blame it on us); I don’t truly believe we’ll continue the war after the ceasefire and finish the job (we never have before, which brought us to this point); and most of all, not for a second do I believe any captured IDF soldiers will be returned, much less alive and unharmed. All of this has been taking up space in my brain since October 7.

I am relieved to hear that the IDF has maintained positions, that they have prevented Gazans from returning north. I am reassured to hear that our neighborhood soldiers are headed south again after a brief respite home (may they all stay safe and healthy).

I want to be wrong. Perhaps I will be proven wrong. Please let me be wrong.

The only one I might trust is Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and he said that we won’t leave the Gaza Strip until every hostage is returned. “Any further negotiations will be under fire. Meaning, if they want to continue discussing the next [deal], it will be while bombs fall and the forces are fighting, that’s the basis.”

So I live with the hope that I am wrong. I put my brave face back on for my kids and for myself, and look forward to the next hostage release, and the next day, and the next.

And I repeat to myself.

Hamas is done.
They made a fatal error.
They thought they caught us on a holiday, on a Shabbat, and divided.

They forgot who we are.

Yes, we faltered. Our citizens paid the ultimate price; we all did.
We are all forever scarred by this.
But we will always have October 7 seared into our souls.

And they are done.

About the Author
Talya Woolf is an eight-year Olah with four spirited children and a fantastic husband. She is a writer, American-licensed attorney, handgun instructor, amateur photographer, and artist. She is politically confusing, Modern Orthodox (though she doesn't dress the part), and ardent Zionist (ZFB). She enjoys spending time with family, friends, running, photography, and reading about highly contagious diseases and WWII.
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