The other thing you get with hindsight and time are the little side bits of information you didn’t know – and maybe it was better that way. Two bits of information came out later – after the war was over. The first was about positioning and since it won’t help our enemies, I’ll explain.
When Elie’s unit was moved down near Gaza – they arrived before their equipment. They were told to make camp and set up the locations where the artillery cannons would be located. K., Elie’s battalion commander looked over the area he was assigned. The formation of the equipment was textbook – once you picked out the location.
He saw a spot that had been hit by a rocket – “there” he pointed – put the first cannon there. His figuring was a combination of two things – the first was the theory that lightning (and Hamas rockets) never hit in the same place twice; the second was likely an “in your face” answer to Hamas. You hit our land? From the very spot you hit us, we will hit back. Both seemed to work – Elie’s unit was never, thankfully, directly hit – though there were calls close enough to have them take shelter.
The second thing that came out after the war was that I was dumb enough to believe so much of what Elie tried to communicate in code. When he told me that he was shutting his phone to save the battery, I think a normal Israeli mother (or at least her husband) would have understood what he was telling me. I didn’t.
The message really was – Ima, we are closing our phones so that no one gives out vital information – because the war is about to start. Elie was responsible not just for closing his phone but for physically collecting the phones of his unit so that no one could call their parents (or post to Facebook) that they were about to go in. I fell for it completely, naively. I waited for him to turn his phone back on.
Even when I heard they’d gone in and fighting had begun, still I waited. The saying “loose lips sink ships” applies here in Israel has well. So the war began and I waited until the middle of the night – at 2:30 a.m. when Elie sent me a message telling me that the war had begun, that he was fine.
I don’t regret not knowing the first story – of where the cannons were placed and upon such logic but deep down I’m glad I didn’t understand what Elie was telling me when he told me he was resting his battery.