The Agony of Israeli Parents

At this moment, the Israeli government has allowed the media to release some news related to something that many of us have known about for hours. It’s a small country; people talk. Facebook was filled with news – most of it wrong.

Three boys are missing. For hours, people have been writing that they have been kidnapped…it is a definite possibility. Shabbat is coming to Israel in less than 2 hours – the agony of parents is beyond words. They don’t know where their sons are; they don’t know if they are okay. There is little worse for a parent than this.

We know very little – we fear very much. And so watching for the last three hours – rumor after rumor and the desperate need to want to believe we will find them in time.

There have been many threats, reports Channel 2 news, most recently by Hamas – urging Palestinians to kidnap citizens and soldiers. The news says it now as they have a live broadcast announcing to a worried nation that three of our sons are missing. Their words, not mine.

All afternoon, while Israeli media was under a gag order, Palestinians were reporting the kidnapping of three settlers. Settlers – that’s what they call our children. That makes it acceptable to the international media, to those who do not understand that the target is always a Jew, an Israeli. This isn’t understood, not by them, and even, sadly, not by some Israelis.

The reporter is announcing that the Arabs are shooting fireworks in the air and wonders if it is to celebrate the kidnapping of Israeli children. Their words, not mine. And some Israelis will say that we have no proof that this is why they are setting off fireworks at 5:30 p.m. in the afternoon. For those of us who live near Arab villages (something amazingly enough missing in the lives of most left-wing Israelis), I can tell you that the fireworks begin at night – AFTER the weddings. And I can’t remember a single time I heard them at 5:30 in the afternoon.

Whatever is happening, many of us will not know until after Shabbat. We go into what is normally a quiet and wonderful world – but we go in this time with the agony and worry of a nation.

The reporter tells us that the army is watching traffic – fearing that if the boys have been kidnapped, an attempt will be made to smuggle them out of the area, perhaps even to Gaza. And behind the reporter, a sign is held – Releasing Terrorists = Kidnappings. But this is politics and that is for tomorrow, or perhaps next week. For now, we search, we pray, we wait.

I look at my youngest son. He is in 12th grade – the age of the missing boys and my heart aches. I hug him and start to cry.

“I don’t go hitchhiking there,” he tries to comfort me and I tell him that this could have happened anywhere. I think of the parents. I know their houses are full of neighbors and friends and this is good. The more people there are, the less time they have to think.

I have no words for the parents of these boys. I cannot imagine…and yet I can…what they must be feeling now. It is a nightmare except you are awake. It has to be a dream, please God, let me wake up – they must be thinking. And yet people continue to come; the army and security services call them and update them.

And there are families in Israel reliving their own nightmares. The Mandell family who live not far from this area. The Wachsman family. Others…Sometimes it ends well, we remind ourselves. Gilad Shalit came home…but that took 5 years. We can’t imagine that now. We deal in moments, hours at most.

As we go into Shabbat, Israel is praying for Gilad Michael, son of Bat Galim; and Yaakov Naftali, son of Rachel; and Ayal, son of Iris.

May they come home to their families and their people.


About the Author
Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write her thoughts and dream of a trip to Italy, Scotland, and beyond.
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