The outpouring of love shown to the IDF’s soldiers during Operation Protective Edge has become legendary.
The fighting soldiers have received countless donations and gifts; visits by Israelis from across Israel; musicians and rock stars have come to entertain; anyone with a helpful profession has donated time and abilities; scores of strangers have come to visit the wounded at the hospitals.
The extent of the show of love has become so magnificent that spokespeople for the Shaarei Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem said Wednesday that the four wounded IDF soldiers who are hospitalized have been overwhelmed with visitors.
According to a statement released by the hospital, doctors and family members have asked well-meaning Israelis to refrain from visiting wounded soldiers without coordinating those visits with the families. There are further reports that IDF units at the Gaza front have been forced to re-donate their food donations to local communities around Gaza because they have too much.
One story exemplifies this phenomenon.
Asher Malka, aged 35, a father of four and a programmer at a high-tech company was called up for emergency reserves duty early Friday morning over two weeks ago. He left immediately, and spent the next week training for his entry into Gaza.
On Wednesday he was sent by his unit to visit a wounded comrade at the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. He says that throughout the duration of the visit a constant stream of strangers continued to enter the room, wishing the wounded soldier well, thanking him for his service and offering him gifts. He was already loaded with food and gifts.
His story only gets better. On the way back to his unit he stopped with another friend for a short break at a coffee shop. They were instantly presented with bread and antipasti, ‘on the house’.
Later on they were served with a desert, paid for by a woman who had already left. When they asked for the bill they received instead a note that read: “It’s moving and delightful to see you! Thanks for everything! Your bill has already been paid for, with much love!”
Asher told Tazpit News Agency that he was simply awed by the VIP treatment they received. “I was shocked”, he said, “We didn’t expect such an outpouring of love. We received a real hero’s welcoming. It felt good to know that the Israeli nation is behind us.”
This story is just one of numerous accounts of the citizens of Israel coming out to help and show support for their fighting men and women in the IDF. At times of crisis, all become one family.