I went to the army as most Israelis do, but it happened some time ago, as I today am 40. I was in the navy and served in Gush Katif, before the IDF pulled out of Gaza in 2005. It was a closed base in Gush Katif, and my role was to work with the radars for surveillance of boats and swimmers on the sea there.
My time in the army was very tough, because I was there for two weeks in a row and then home for a few days only.
The Fifth Out Of 60
Once I was on my way to the base from Ashkelon on a bus, a trip that took an hour approximately. When the bus entered Gush Katif, a suicide bomber in a car drove into the center of the bus. We were 60 in that bus. Out of the sixty, only five were not wounded from the attack, and I was one of those five. Many of my friends were wounded, losing a leg or arms, some got head wounds.
When it happened, I was just in shock. I don’t remember most of it, but I think it’s my body’s self-defense mechanism, because it would probably be very difficult for me, if I remembered everything. After the attack, a video was shown in the news of the situation after the attack, where I saw myself sitting on the ground next to the bus along with many others. The only thing I remember from the attack itself was that there was a lot of smoke right after the “boom,” we ducked – but I don’t remember, how all the others got wounded.
At the time there was much less awareness around post-traumatic stress than there is today. Right after the attack, all the wounded were sent directly to the hospital, and I along with all the other non-wounded were sent directly to a base in Beer Sheba to be supervised instead of being sent home. That is what they thought were best for us.
I was on that base for at least a week. Then I was allowed to go back home for one day and then back again to my base. In the week that I was being “supervised,” my parents came to visit me instead then.
If it had happened to me today, it wouldn’t have happened like this. It would also have been counted as having caused disability.
No Sleeping On Buses
The 90’s were very difficult years with all the suicide bombings, and if those hadn’t happened along with the one in Gush Katif, I probably would have been a slightly different person.
Today when I sit in a café I always check my surroundings. Some years ago I still had difficulties when hearing fireworks; it would scare me. Every time I heard sirens warning of missiles coming our way I got the goose bumps and a lot of stress. In some coffee shops in Tel Aviv some people would not move from their chair, but I would always run to any shelter or safe place, and I would make these calculations in terms of when the next siren would sound. For example, if it had happened the day before at five in the afternoon, the chances were it would sound around the same time the day after, and I had to organize myself accordingly.
And when the suicide bombing attack happened during my time in the army, I was sleeping, something I always did on those long bus rides. That’s not an option for me any longer; I don’t sleep on buses.
What Doesn’t Kill You
I think that what has happened to me has made me a stronger person. If something bad happens to me, I don’t see it as the world ending, as I have been through worse. For some weird reason I also never felt quite at home here in Israel until the attack. It made me feel like I belong.
My husband keeps urging me to move. He doesn’t want to live here, because of the whole situation, but I want to stay.
A Nurse For Jews And Arabs Alike
I work as a nurse in a hospital, and I work among many Arab nurses as well, who take care of a lot of Palestinian patients, as they then can converse with them in Arabic.
Many of them come from Gaza, but those who come seem to be the rich Gazans – not the poor ones – as they seemingly enter the country as tourists.
The Gazan patients always show their appreciation for their treatments, and many times they bring cake and candy. They always thank us, but I don’t really know, what they think, since I don’t speak their language.
They are treated in the exact same way as all other patients, and I perceive them in the exact same way. When people suffer and feel at their worst, you see that they are just people. Everyone just wants to heal. There is no politics involved in this. During last summer’s war round of sirens, we all ran to the stairs; it was something we did together.
In terms of the political situation here, I think that those, who are hurt and wounded unfortunately aren’t those, who make the decisions.