When I first heard that they wanted me to volunteer to help administer our village’s war room, I resisted.
Most of the men in the moshav (village) had already been called up into the IDF reserves. Those who were not became the moshav’s armed standby defensive squad, and they guard the moshav around the clock.
The rest of the residents were called upon to volunteer in other things required these days, as is the case in other Israeli moshav and kibbutz villages.
The Hebrew acronym “Hamal” – Cheder Milchama – means war room. I saw no connection between me and war. I want peace; I want to live out the beauty in the world. The word war immediately evokes for me connotations of suffering, darkness, cold and death.
It is true that there is a war going on, and my three sons and son-in-law are serving in the IDF. It is true that the security situation in Israel is challenging, and that people are in a kind of existential anxiety.
You can see similar behavior in most people, when the electricity goes out, and it gets dark and the blinds are closed all over the house.
Israelis now lock their doors at all hours of the day and night. Many built fences, upgraded their door locks, and the security and equipment of their bomb shelter rooms.
I also behaved like this in some respects. A sense of chaos and fear of the unknown raged inside me, and yet something in me refused to accept the fact that there is a war. I found completely justified reasons why I shouldn’t join the moshav’s war room.
But as the days passed, and the “Hamal” became fully operational, and residents started taking shifts; something in me softened. I digested the fact that we are currently in unusual times.
It is true that my ambition is for peace, but as the prophet Jeremiah said, sometimes we long for peace and it is not happening.
“Peace, peace, and there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8:11)
I looked reality straight in the eye and understood with emotion that we are currently in a state of war. And as soon as logic and emotion connected, my resistance began to wane; and I agreed to take shifts in the war room. At first I signed up for night shifts (on call from home) and then day shifts in the war room (located in the moshav office).
The war room’s main function is to receive phone calls from residents about suspicious events happening in the area. For example: incessant barking of dogs that can indicate intruders; or sightings of light aircraft; suspicious people walking around, etc.
The war room receives the information, and each “alarm” has a protocol for how to respond.
It starts with notifying the security officer, and may also include activating the standby squad, and calling the external security forces, police, MDA emergency medical services, IDF, fire brigade and more.
This is an important role that begins first of all with alerting the relevant authorities regarding each incident, and continues until the residents are calmed down, before panic can set in. During these shifts, I get to know many wonderful people from the moshav that I had not met before. Thank God there is not a lot of activity in our war room. So there is a lot of time for conversations, even for knitting and comforting idle chatter. People from the moshav come in and out all the time. And, I now realize how much this room adds to the feeling of security for the residents. It is helping us to regain our sense of existential confidence and to move the anxieties aside.
This is the order of the hour.
Israel Today Membership
Save 18% Per Month.
Six Months Membership
Save 9% Per Month.