100 Days

100 Days. 100 days since October 7, 2023. On that day in the afternoon I was supposed to be on a flight to an EU project meeting in Madrid. I woke up at 9am, on the last day of Suckot holiday, thinking it would be a normal day. My family was living their normal lives: my son was in Tel Aviv, still asleep after his Bachelor Party. My husband was on a business trip in California. My middle daughter was with her boyfriend in Sri Lanka, and my young daughter was sleeping late at my parents' empty house after a party she hosted there while my parents were visiting my brother in Austin.

The alarm rang (reminding me to get ready to my flight) and I saw a missed call from the taxi driver and a recorded message on Whatsapp from my cousin – I was up late at her place for Suckot dinner the night before. I listened to the message. "I don't know if you're aware", she was saying "but there is a war in Israel. It started at 6:30 am. I know that you are supposed to go to Spain but you probably should cancel".

I opened the Internet news and froze.

Life will never be the same.

100 days. I will share 10 memories.

My prayers are with the soldiers, reserve duty persons, and the kidnapped. Many they all return home safely soon. I love you all.

1. October 10 (Day 4) – Puzzle Time. The first week was a time of great uncertainty. Missiles were fired on Tel Aviv all the time. I convinced my son and his Fiancé (now wife) to move in with me and my 18-year old daughter. My husband and daughter returned from abroad later that week. (My daughter's boyfriend returned to Israel and got drafted to the fighting in Gaza. He is still there and I am still scared).

We started getting news on people we knew who were at the music festival and were missing. We didn't know if they survived, if they were murdered at the massacre by Hamas (360 killed, their bodies mutilated, heads and other parts cut off, and they were burned so it took at least a month to identify 100 of them, using clinical records) or if they were among the 40 young people kidnapped to Gaza (with additional 210 citizens kidnapped from their homes in the villages north of Gaza, 136 are still held by Hamas). After a week my son and my young daughter got the worst news. A brother of a friend and a sister of another friend. Both massacred. One identified across the fence, not on the Israeli side. My young daughter also lost a 19y old friend of hers. He was at the army base attacked by Hamas on October 7. So, two funerals that week for each of them. And terror. Missiles in Tel Aviv all the time, and also some near Haifa.

I tried to work some hours a day and so did my son. I cooked. Everything was closed: the university, work places, restaurants. No cultural events, no dancing. Everyone was in shock, scared, depressed, stressed. I and everyone else couldn't fall asleep. So we started doing jigsaw puzzles. I haven't done one since my kids were 2 years old. Anyone who couldn't sleep would come over and work on the puzzle. We completed many 1000-piece puzzles that week.

The semester was supposed to start on October 15. It finally started on January 1.

2. October 14 (Day 8). Why am I wearing my (Alex'?) army clothes? Adi is in Israel, at her boyfriend's house. He has a 24h time off from reserves duty. She just got a call that she may need to get drafted too and she needs her army clothes. But she cannot find them at her apartment and I couldn't find hers at home. She needs the everyday clothes, so luckily they are the same color as the ones Alex and I had years ago and we kept them. I took a photo to show her how big they really are.

3.  October 20. I walk on the street and I see for the first time the photo of one of the people kidnapped from Israel on October 7 and held in Gaza. It is a poster that is posted on a bus stop. Her name is Liri Albag and she is 18. She was probably drafted to the army a month before October 7th and was on the army based that was attacked. I want to see her here with us. A few days ago, Hamas released another terrorizing video. The video was taken on October 8 and in it are four 18 and 19 year old soldiers, with very scared faces – I could hardly recognize Liri, maybe I could tell it was her because of her round face. Liri and everyone – we will bring you home!

4. October 23-30: 5 of the kidnapped women return to Israel. This week, and actually until October 27, Israel refrained from entering Gaza by land. Daily heavy missile fire on Israel. We don't hear about the 250 kidnapped persons. On October 16, Hamas releases its first terrorizing video showing a wounded 21-year old Israeli young woman held in Gaza. She was freed on November 30, in exchange for 3 Hamas terrorists held in Israel. On October 20, Hamas released 2 of the kidnapped: mother and daughter from Chicago who were visiting Israel. We are so happy. Hamas will release 2 older women on October 23. Then, just like in a miracle, we hear on October 30, that the Israeli Defense Force managed to release a woman soldier who was captured from the army based on October 7 and held by a family in Gaza. We start hoping. First, we think that Hamas will return more citizens – or perhaps foreign citizens, but are worried by the slow pace. Second, we think that the Israeli Defense Force can free more Israelis.

5. November 3 (Day 28) "Israel Defense Force (IDF) names…killed in…". On the weekends the IDF does not want to upset us, so we don't get news about soldiers and reserve duty men getting killed in Gaza, in the Lebanon border, or in the West Bank. As soon as the sun sets on Saturday, you open the news and you hope there will not be any names. But there always are. And on November 4, Saturday evening, the name was announced: Paramedic Lior Arazy and three other soldiers. Lior was on reserves duty. He was from the same unit as my middle daughter, and was a close friend of hers. She spent the COVID days at his Kibbutz, which was a "capsule" were young people could meet together and not stay put at home. He was supposed to start Medical School 3 weeks earlier. He was a good person. By November 9, eleven people from Adi's commando unit in the Air Force were killed in Gaza. Since its inception in 1974, none from that unit have been killed (and there was the First Lebanon War (1982), Second Lebanon War (2006) and many shorter events). Most of the eleven reserves duty officers from her unit died in the chaos of the first day of the Hamas attack on Israel. As soon as they heard about the attack, they raced to the area of the massacres and started in an unorganized way, to try to save Israeli citizens. 1144 Israeli citizens and foreign workers were murdered on October 7. Of them, 334 soldiers, 60 police force persons and 10 general security service persons.

6. November 24 – the happiest day. This day was happy for two reasons. A personal one – my son got married to his Fiancé in a small gathering on my parents' roof. The party was postponed until August – with the hope that the war will be over and all the kidnapped Israelis will be returned. On that day, 13 women and children were freed from Gaza by Hamas in exchange for 39 Hamas terrorists held in Israeli prisons.

Katar is leading the negotiation of exchange of Israeli citizens kidnapped from their homes or from the music festival on October 7 and held in Gaza for three times as many Hamas terrorists held in Israeli prisons (captured after they had been involved in terrorism actions inside Israel). There is a temporary cease fire for 5 days with an option for 2 more days. Every day of the first 3 days, 13 Israeli women or children citizens are returned. The next two days, 20 women and children and one Russian man (for Putin, as Hamas leaders announced) were released. On Day 6 in the afternoon, 2 more Russian-Israelis: a woman and a child – for Putin. However, Hamas decided to violate the arrangement and instead of releasing 10 more women and children, released only 8. Israel agreed to count the 2 citizens released earlier that day, adding up to 10. The following day, Hamas was supposed to release 10 more women and children. However, more terror followed, with claims that the 10 month and 4 year old red haired children held with their parents in Gaza were dead (no proof of that was ever supplied and is most likely false, as was the case for another Israeli woman announced dead by Hamas and then released at the end of November). Hamas said that they would release bodies of dead kidnapped Israelis. Israel did not agree, and Hamas released only 8 Israelis (for return of 30 Hamas terrorists from Israeli prisons).

8. December 1. Can I meet my school friends despite the fact that Omer Neutra was not released? Omer was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7. He was an officer in the Israeli Defense Force, but he is an American citizen and since he was born and until 2.5 years ago lived in Long Island. Omer is the nephew of my high-school friend, Osnat. Eight of my school friends meet once every 2-3 months on a Friday somewhere between Haifa and Tel Aviv for lunch – each time in a different restaurant. We were supposed to meet in October and decided to postpone to December 1. We hoped very much that Omer will return by that time. He is still being held by Hamas. Omer – we are waiting for you – we will bring you home!

8. December 15 – a devastating day. It actually started on October 30th. There have been many "small" terrorists attacks in Jerusalem and in the Israeli villages near the west bank. On this day, 2 terrorists shot and killed 3 Israeli citizens that were waiting at a bus stop in Jerusalem. They wounded 8 more. An Israeli citizen who was on his way to work, and 2 soldiers who were nearby, saw what was happening. The Israeli citizen shot and killed the two terrorists. The two soldiers thought that he was a terrorists and shot and killed him. It was a terrible event. I couldn’t get over it. The citizen tried to show that he was not wearing an explosives belt, but he did have a gun. So the soldiers thought that he was a terrorist and killed him. Similar tragedies keep happening. 20% of the Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza are from our own forces. Some times due to being recognized as Hamas. Sometimes due to lack of coordination or insufficient knowledge.

On December 8, an Israeli commando unit tried to free a kidnapped Israeli citizen held by Hamas in Gaza, based on intelligence information. The operation failed and two commando soldiers were severely wounded.

On December 15, the Israeli Defense Force were in Gaza in an area that was not supposed to be inhabitant by citizens any longer. Three of the kidnapped Israeli citizens escaped from the Hamas but were killed by Israeli soldiers. They did all they could to show that they were not Hamas, but it didn't help. They were suspected to be Hamas terrorists. Hamas uses cruel techniques to lure Israeli soldiers: recording of small children or women shouting words in Hebrew – that are being played from houses. In the fighting zone that is dangerous and where you have to act within fractions of a second— accidents happen. But Hamas was right – it seems like the kidnapped people could only be freed by negotiation and Hamas does not agree to negotiate when Israel is trying to destroy the infrastructure of the tunnels from which Hamas is still attacking Israel with missiles and which could be used to leave Gaza into other countries, like Egypt or to get into Israel again.

On January 8, 2024, while Israeli soldiers were preparing the last stages for blowing up one of the most strategic Hamas tunnels in the middle of the Gaza strip, where weapons and missiles were being produced, an accident happened. Soldiers in the tank that was protecting the soldiers who were preparing to blow up the tunnels – spotted Hamas people aiming at them, and fired a shell. The shell explosion ignited the explosives and 6 Israeli soldiers were killed. One of them was a very close friend of my daughter and she is devastated. She is spending all her time at the parents of the deceased. I'm often thinking of her friends form California, leading normal lives, and of her, mourning and grieving. Before the war, she was also caught at a scene of a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv while she was walking to her place of work. She hid at a cellular phone store, hearing the terrorist run to the alley beneath the store and waiting silently for 9 minutes until he was neutralized by the police, but fearing that he would enter the store. He had killed 3 people who were crossing the street right where she was walking. She is a student at Tel Aviv University and I hope very much that she can catch up with the semester with everything that is happening to her.

9. January 8, 2024. Escalation at the northern border with Lebanon and Syria? Hopefully not. At the border with Lebanon, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles are used to attack Israelis. This has been going on since October. As a result, 3% of the Israeli population have been evicted from the north of Israel and from the area near Gaza. This creates a big problem for farmers and for the education of children, and for the economy, of course. Many citizens are helping out – cooking (photo of things that me and my friends cooked), bringing supplies, furniture, etc. No one can return until there is no threat on Israel. The five goals of the operations of the Israeli Defense force are: (1) annihilate the Hamas leaders, wherever they are; (2) collect intelligence information – this includes collecting things from the Hamas tunnels; (3) locate and destroy Hamas weapons and infrastructure, especially tunnels, missiles and rockets; (4) free the hostages; (5) establish safety so that the Israeli citizens evicted from their homes can return to their homes.

The missiles fired at Israel form the north are by Hamas and Hezbollah, from Lebanon and Syria. So far, both sides are not targeting civilians and the Israelis are targeting specific Hamas or Hezbollah leaders. I hope very much that things will not escalate at this border.

10. My prayers are with the soldiers, reserve duty persons, and the kidnapped. May they all return home safely soon. I love you all.