David Wolf

Laila Shaket – A quiet night

50 years ago. The Yom Kipur war.

Even though I had been a combat soldier with the Nachal paratroopers (Gdud 50), by the time the war started I didn’t yet have a reserves unit and ended up attached to a medical unit, in the Golan Heights. Because I didn’t take part in any actual fighting, I felt like a spectator with a good front seat. 1 – 2 times we were bombarded. 1 – 2 times fighter planes flew low over us and scared me nearly to death before we could determine that they were our planes. Occasionally a truck would arrive from the front with wounded and dead soldiers, we even received a Syrian pilot who had been shot down…

Many mornings we heard this sentence in the news: “our troops passed a quiet night.”

(לילה שקט עבר על כוחותינו.)

My reaction, as well as others’, was mixed. Of course we’re happy that, apparently, nothing bad happened to our troops. But… aren’t we supposed to be winning this war? They attacked, killed many soldiers, conquered territory… aren’t we supposed to be fighting, winning, destroying them, pushing them back? If we had a quiet night, that means that we also allowed the enemy to have a quiet night, to get some rest…! Is that good?

Of course, as a spectator, I had no idea of what was happening anywhere else in the country or on the different battlefields. All I knew is what was happening in my immediate vicinity. Our job was to take care of the dead and wounded that were brought to us and to guard ourselves at night against a possible attack by Syrian commando units, that supposedly were roaming around in the Golan Heights. Luckily, they didn’t find us. We didn’t stand a chance to defend ourselves against any well-armed unit, with the “Chechi” rifles that we were issued, relics from the 1948 War of Independence, that by 1973 were used only by security guards at the entrance to movie theatres and that we didn’t even know how to use…

So I wished our army would attack, “give them hell”…

Now, 50 years later, during this war with Hamas that doesn’t yet have a name, I am 50 years older.

Again, I am a spectator sitting at home in Raanana, where the Hamas rockets take 90 seconds to arrive. Yes, the rockets arrive occasionally and we run down 2 flights of stairs to the bunker. Yes, we all try to volunteer somewhere and to do something to help the country, to give help to soldiers and civilians. And again, I don’t really know what is happening on the front lines, south, north and east, other than what I hear in the news or see on the internet. Just like 50 years ago, the news we receive are far from being very accurate and informative. Then, like now, we swallow up all the rumors we get. The only difference is that today, with the internet, the rumors travel much faster…


But now, there are some health problems as well. For some years already I have trouble sleeping… I get up several times at night to go to the bathroom. A week ago, I got a urinary infection with high fever and am still taking anti-biotics…

This week, with the rockets from Gaza, every time we go to the bathroom, every time we take a shower, day or night, we worry about being interrupted and having to run down 2 flights of stairs to the bunker. Of course, dreaming with sirens and rockets doesn’t help my sleep…

Every morning for the past years I “take stock” of my night: how well did I sleep, how many times I got up. Occasionally I can say that I had a good night, a quiet night, and that I am getting up relaxed and refreshed.

But this week, the nights have an extra tension. So whenever I get up in the morning after a night with no sirens; a night in which I didn’t feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom while running, groggy, dizzy, to the bomb-shelter; I really feel the need to say, before I see or hear any news or rumors about what’s going on in the war in the various fronts: “our troops passed a quiet night.”

(לילה שקט עבר על כוחותינו.)


David Wolf

Raanana, 12.10.2023

About the Author
David Wolf writes about his experience of being a second-time husband and father. He has a daughter from his first marriage, and, with his second wife, has accrued three daughters, two sons-in-law, one grandchild and twin 8-year-old sons. He is a social worker in a mental health department and in private practice in Raanana.
Related Topics
Related Posts