By Sylvie Simons, a Magen David Adom volunteer

Today I experienced something that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Israeli combat soldiers carry their gear as they walk towards a staging area before entering the Gaza strip. Photo: Jinipix/Israel Sun

Israeli combat soldiers carry their gear as they walk towards a staging area before entering the Gaza strip. Photo: Jinipix/Israel Sun

As my ambulance headed to a family home, with the army, to tell a mother, father, son and daughter that their son/brother had been killed this morning in Gaza, I felt sickened and nauseous.

Still, I believed deep down that despite the trauma I would witness, I would stay strong and handle it, as I have experienced personal loss.

But no words can describe the sight and sound of such raw and heart-wrenching cries of pain from people who suddenly realise that they will never see/hug/kiss/smell/touch/look at/laugh with their loved one again. 

As I scanned the small living room, I tried to picture the love, laughter and memories shared between these people in this room that was now so full of pain, that the air felt thick and dark.

I looked up at the photographs on the wall, at wedding photos spread across the walls, only to be told that this man was not only a son and brother, but a husband and father too.

I started to question how this could be occurring within these four walls, whilst outside children were still playing on the streets, buses were still running, babies were still being born and life was still moving? Was this not strong enough to shake the world?

The funeral of Sgt. Sean Carmeli. Photo: Jinipix/Israel Sun.

The funeral of Sgt. Sean Carmeli. Photo: Jinipix/Israel Sun.

And then I thought about some of the posts I have seen on Facebook of late, and on the news, statements from respected political figures and revered celebrities who publicly condemn Israel and go as far as describing Zionism as racism/nazism. Those who portray Israel as a murderous state who roll in the blood of the poor, innocent, tortured souls of Gaza.

I wondered how a world full of supposedly rational human beings could be so blind. 

And then it occurred to me that this raw, incomprehensible pain I had witnessed today, surrounded by a loving network of support was occurring also in Gaza.

The difference was, there is no support or security there, on the contrary people’s lives are being treated by their leaders as disposable – they are being used as pawns for Hamas’ personal agenda.

Their houses/schools/places of worship/graveyards/kindergartens are being utilised as missile launch pads, and whilst the Israelis warn these civilians (with leaflets and text messages) to leave their houses so as not to be harmed, these vicious animals instruct them to stand on the rooftops to ‘protect their houses’.

In the meantime, they await with cameras at the ready – snapping shots of these men, women and children who they have placed in the firing line, catching these gem shots and sending them straight to the media.

They value these lives so little that they even have been caught using fake pictures to boost their cause. 

All of this is simply for one reason and one reason only. They have such a deep rooted desire for the death of Jews (as stated in the official Hamas charter), that this means more than the very lives of their own people.

This is not about protection from a superior, militant Israeli regime. Hamas officials have been known to send their family members to Israel for medical treatment in times of need.

They are secure in the knowledge that the Israelis will treat them in their hospitals, without prejudice, and in the meantime these same people plot ways to try and obliterate Israel and the Jewish people, regardless of the cost.

I have never felt more sad for such unthinkable loss to so many human beings and for such evil within humanity. But I have never felt more proud of my country, Israel, and never been so sure that this is the place I belong and must end up.

It doesn’t matter how much of the world hate us, or what anyone says. We will not die for the sake of international sympathy, we are a people that value life too much to play with fire and we will not apologise for that.

Instead we will continue to thrive and set an example to the world of how much can be accomplished and contributed, in a time scale that can only be described as miraculous, whilst simultaneously under constant attack from our enemies and international scrutiny.

I pray that Hamas, the evil perpetrators of this horrendous crime to humanity are stopped and that this impossible suffering ends for everyone soon.

May G-d protect our boys in the IDF and bring them home soon to their families. עם ישראל חי