Ariella Cohen

From Babies to Old Ladies

The two soldiers that were killed the same day that the two hostages were rescued this week seem to have fallen through the cracks. The general public was talking about them less because there was parallel news that was a lot happier and easier to talk about. And I can understand that. But it got me thinking about something that I haven’t thought about since the ground operation in Gaza began just about 4 months ago. (It’s crazy to think that a third of a year has already gone by. That’s a really long time.)

Anyway, back in mid October when there were talks of a ground invasion but it hadn’t commenced yet, I was talking with someone about the possibility of it happening and what it might lead to. I had literally just moved to Israel at that point not even two months beforehand, so I didn’t have nearly enough knowledge to even form an opinion on the matter. Not that my opinion would have been accounted for in this particular case anyway. The person I was talking to made a comment which implied that sending the IDF into Gaza was a “suicide mission,” and it wasn’t worth it because so so many soldiers would inevitably be killed in the process. I remember that previous operations in Gaza lost us many many soldiers, but I honestly don’t really remember the details. The past almost two decades of varying levels of unrest and war in Gaza made a lot less of an impact on me living in America than the current war is having on Jews all over the world. And quite frankly, on the world itself- not just the Jews.

So I wasn’t really sure what to think about the idea of a suicide mission and the likelihood that many more soldiers could die than the number of hostages there were, and that we had no idea if the hostages were even alive, so did it make sense to send the soldiers in? Or was rescuing the hostages even the purpose of sending the soldiers in?

I started thinking about comparing the worth of one person versus another. If a soldier dies but is able to save one hostage, is that one to one? What about if more than one soldier dies saving only one hostage? Or if one soldier dies while rescuing multiple hostages? Who says one person’s life is worth more than the other? If a soldier dies retrieving the dead body of a hostage, was is worthwhile? These are obviously impossible questions to answer because no one has the right to decide whose life is worth more. And they are also less relevant at this point now that we lost way too many soldiers who were not directly involved in releasing hostages.

Maybe part of the reason that the IDF entered Gaza to begin with was because of the hostages, but at this point it is definitely so much more than that. Even if Hamas suddenly decided to release all of the hostages at once, the war is not just going to be over like magic. There will still be work to do. Israel is not going to forget what happened. Ever, but especially not now. Which is why it really bothers me when I see people posting things on social media along the lines of “If Hamas would just release the hostages, we would all live happily ever after.” That is not true. Hamas would still need to be obliterated. Because otherwise the attacks from Gaza will continue forever which is not an option. Also, such statements attempt to simplify this incredibly complex (to put it mildly) situation which is something that bothers me as well.

But this is not about what does or doesn’t bother me. And this is not just about the hostages because this war has additional goals as well. So comparing the number of hostages that desperately need to be found to the number of lost soldiers doesn’t actually make sense, but I still keep thinking about it now.

We already lost more soldiers than the original number of hostages. A number that I can’t quite fathom and that I sincerely hope and pray does not continue to grow. A number that means there are thousands of newly bereaved family members. Babies who will never know their parent or sibling. Grandmothers who lost grandchildren. And everything else in between.

I went to a large women’s event last week that had women of every age in attendance, from babies all the way to old ladies. Seeing a room filled like that really served as a visual for me, especially since they were pretty much all strangers, of how interconnected everyone is. Obviously it’s something I know, but seeing the sea of faces made me really think about it more. About how one person’s life cannot be measured against someone else’s because every individual is their own world. About how even if we are not grieving an immediate friend or family member right now, we are probably not separated by too many degrees from someone who is. About how even if we do not personally know any of the hostages, we are probably not separated by too many degrees from someone who does. Because from the babies to the old ladies, we’re really just one big extended family.

About the Author
Ariella Cohen grew up in Far Rockaway, NY and made Aliyah from Bala Cynwyd, PA in August 2023. She is an engineer and amateur musician with lots of other hobbies on the side.
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