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Day 73 Of The War: The Mental Well-being Of Our Soldiers

If only they saved the 3 hostages. Courtesy of Shoshke Engelmayer
If only they saved the 3 hostages. Courtesy of Shoshke Engelmayer

Shortly after the beginning of the war in Gaza, I found myself deeply worried about the soldiers who were fighting in such a complex and densely populated civilian area. This sense of distress is shared by many and has only heightened as the war has progressed. This concern existed even before the recent tragedies, but since the incomprehensible killing of the three hostages by the IDF, I’ve been unable to shake the thought of the unbearable cost of this war—the final moments of those hostages and the soldiers involved in their deaths. Much about this war remains unknown, but what has surfaced is increasingly troubling. In battles within crowded urban settings, numerous individuals died simply because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

I belong to a generation where the shadows of the Yom Kippur War in ’73 have cast a long and enduring presence over my adult life. We married soldiers who fought in that war, and its haunting memories lingered in their nights. Throughout the years we observed that some of our most promising contemporaries did not live up to their potential. Others had real and unexpected challenges: they dropped out of university, couldn’t hold a job, had difficulties sleeping at night, and had short temper, among others. Moreover, we couldn’t understand why people, who we thought we knew well, became unreliable and unsatisfactory family member, or got divorced. As time passed, the weight of those experiences only grew heavier. 

I deeply worry about the fate of the soldiers currently fighting in this war. The  war in Gaza began with a massacre and deep trauma. Those who survived that tragic event on October 7th are likely scarred for life. We hear accounts of suicide attempts, and the tragedy endures, especially with numerous hostages still in Gaza.

But there is still an opportunity to glean lessons from these horrifying tragedies. thing is clear: the state of Israel has a responsibility toward the soldiers and must protect the young men and women who are fighting this war. Commanders and leaders must ensure that their soldiers maintain their moral compass and do not compromise their conscience or take actions that could haunt their future or endanger their mental well-being. Engaging in warfare is already an arduous task, but this generation faces an incredibly difficult challenge: an urban combat against Hamas, a terrorist organization employing guerrilla tactics.

The artist and activist  Shoshke Engelmayer is documenting the war with art. This take of the tragedy with the three hostage is heartbreaking. Thank you for letting me use this painting in my blog

 

About the Author
I hold a PhD in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in writing about issues related to women, literature, culture, and society. Having lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994), I bring a diverse perspective to my work. As a widow, in March 2016, I initiated a support and growth-oriented Facebook group for widows named "Widows Move On." The group has now grown to over 2000 members, providing a valuable space for mutual support and understanding.
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