Since IDF soldiers who are assigned to checkpoints are often there for 3 months at a time, it is important that they don’t get desensitized. Col. Gruber has established a program called “Chesed in the Field” In order that the soldiers remain “as sensitive to a baby’s cry after the war as they were before.” In order to accomplish this, soldiers are sent to work with children, the mentally ill and oncology patients. What a wonderful and unique way to retain their humanity!
Today started out with a wonderful presentation by Colonel Bentzi Gruber, who spoke about Ethics in the Field. The goal is to teach soldiers about making correct decisions regarding terrorists when you only have 8 seconds in which to do so. Are they innocents or terrorists? The objective is to not harm civilians while at the same time protecting the soldiers and civilians from attack. We were shown actual footage of Hamas using children as shields, hiding in civilian homes and using ambulances for cover. In Gaza, which is 24miles x 5 miles, there are 1.8 million civilians and 30,000 terrorists. Incredible restraint has to be used to protect the innocent. Israel is the only nation I know of that will warn citizens in advance that a house that has been used by terrorists is going to be destroyed. This has caused friction among Israelis because the parents of soldiers feel it puts their children in danger, since those houses are then boobytrapped or have terrorists laying in wait.
After the presentation, we drove to the Haas Promenade, with its beautiful view of Jerusalem; what a wonderful and bittersweet way to say goodbye to the City of Gold! Then, back on the bus to Mt. Scopus to the Temple Mount Sifting Project. Here we saw artifacts that were actually taken from the Temple Mount and included relics from both the 1st and 2nd temple period. We were given a demonstration on how to sift and wash rubble in order to find artifacts, and then put our newly acquired skills to work.
Heading north, our next stop was Atlit, near Haifa, the British pre-state detention camp for illegal immigrants fleeing Europe and the Arab countries for British controlled Palestine. Most illegal immigration occurred after WW II, when the “white papers”,which limited Jewish immigration to Palestine to 1500 per month, kept out the 20,000 survivors trying to come. Only after the founding of the State of Israel were these people free to enter legally.
Our last stop of the day was to a Druze village on Mt. Carmel. After a delicious dinner, our host gave us an interesting talk on the Druze, who are a monotheistic people who believe in reincarnation. They believe in showing complete loyalty to the country in which they live, and so are found in large numbers serving in the army and participating in every aspect of Israeli life.
After a very long but informative day, we are finally on our way to our lovely hotel on the banks of lake Kinneret in the Gallilee where we look forward to meeting up with our friends Maddy and David Arfin.