Jonathan Feldstein, a former Teaneck resident who is the Israel representative for American Friends of Magen David Adom (which is akin to the Red Cross), shared this personal account written on Monday.
It’s the last day of Chanukah. Schools are closed and families throughout Israel are on outings all over the country.
I had planned to spend this final day of vacation with my kids. But plans changed 48 hours ago when Israel initiated an operation in Gaza and the army went into action to stop the renewed daily rocket fire at Israel, and Magen David Adom went into high alert to protect those hurt by the rockets that are still being fired.
Knowing that thousands of MDA staff and volunteers would be spending the final days of Chanukah working under unusual and stressful circumstances, I took the day off from my vacation to spend some time with the MDA heroes, to bring them some doughnuts for the holiday as a token of appreciation from the American Friends of Magen David Adom.
I set out early to pick up hundreds of doughnuts and planned to deliver them to MDA staff and volunteers in Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Sderot. The truth is I had a bit of anxiety about going there, but knew it was important to send our appreciation.
En route, news came of rocket attacks in Ashkelon where one Arab Israeli was killed and 14 injured, and several rockets landing in Sderot. By midday, dozens of rockets would strike Israel. One landed between the old MDA EMS station and the grocery store in which I always shop to support the Sderot economy. The irony is that I met the owner of the store because his house had suffered a direct hit by a kassam rocket a year ago.
As a result of the ongoing rocket fire, the army closed the roads in the immediate Gaza periphery so I was only able to get as far as Ashdod, my first stop. It took two trips to and from my car to unload all the doughnuts, with help from MDA staff.
Along the way, and at the MDA station, the roar of IDF fighter jets was audible in the distance. We sat in the staff lounge of the new MDA station in Ashdod eating doughnuts and drinking coffee in comfort, watching the TV coverage of the special Knesset session called to hear from leaders of the government. It was hard to imagine that some 25 to 30 miles away, the IDF is engaged in a military operation to protect the country while hundreds of thousands of Israelis are in range of and being targeted by Hamas.
As I left the Ashdod station I strolled through the parking lot to take pictures of the ambulances there donated by American friends. Indeed, most of the ambulances were donated to MDA from the United States as is true throughout Israel. Some 200 ambulances are stationed throughout the area, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, my front wheels spun out on the wet pavement. In an instant, I realized that the wet roads posed another threat and undoubtedly would be the cause of car accidents requiring MDA’s services. As if what was happening to the south was not enough, MDA would have to be “distracted” by the ongoing lifesaving work of responding to car accidents, resuscitating heart attack victims, treating kids’ broken bones, and helping to bring babies into the world.
No rest for the weary.