Monday, February 13, 2006

Friday Night - Midnight @ the Muqata

This past Friday night, I went to bed around 10 PM. All the kids were asleep...for a change, and I crawled under the covers to go to sleep.

Blissfull sleep.

I could sleep for hours snuggled under a warm blanket. Granted, I can fall asleep standing up if need be or contorted into a pretzel in an economy airline seat. If there weren't pressing matters of responsibility, I could sleep for a week.

I'm deep in my sleep...when my motorola radio starts beeping at me at 12:04 AM.

"Jameel, Jameel, this is the "moked" (command center)..."

(Our IDF counter-terror unit is on call 24x7.)

Rolling out of bed, I see my beeper is buzzing as well, and I see that the IDF has spotted suspicious characters in the wadi below our settlement.

Throwing on my clothes -- my dark Shabbat pants are the quickest to put on, a dark blue sweatshirt, yesterday's socks, shoes, blue kippa (instead of my white Shabbat one)...I grab my pistol, walkie talkie, cellphone, beeper and I'm about to run out of my bedroom when my wife asks from her sleep what's going on. I tell her what my beeper said and run downstairs.

I used to get wistful about running out of the house; some write how they say good bye to their wives knowing they may not return. I think I'm past that; probably since its the middle of the night, and I have way too much on my mind.

Calling my command counterpart, he says he's on his way out to his car, and we agree I'll send out the beeper message to everyone, grab the first person I can from our unit, and start a patrol.

I just made a phone call on Shabbat.

Actually, it was already my second one, since I had spoken previously to the moked. I call the beeper company (third phone call) and send out a message that will also wake up a couple dozen people from their Friday night shabbat sleep.

Throwing on my bulletproof vest, I grab my M16, helmet, Vietnam-era army radio, signal flares, and mega flash-light -- I lug all this to my car. The car is ready before shabbat, to minimize "chilul Shabbat" (desecration of the Shabbat) -- the strobe light is already connected, the headlights will go on automatically when I start the car, the radio is off...and I start the car. Orange lights flashing, I pick up my friend from our unit, and we speed off towards the perimeter.

As I'm driving, my friend is talking on my car's motorola radio. Who's on-line, who is awake, who can be a lookout, who's available...and they reply one at a time. I admonish my friend that he needs to acknowledge each person who calls in, so they know we heard them. He says its Shabbat and we need to minimize chilul Shabbat...before I can reply we see part of the fence is slightly bent. I slow down, and notice the mud on the other side is footprints or ladder marks anywhere -- must be an old "bend" in the fence.

Continuing to drive, I turn to my friend and say, "What's your problem with acknowledging someone on the radio on Shabbat -- he needs to know we heard him." My friend apologizes; he thought I meant to say "thank you" for calling in, not "acknowledgement", and he agrees with me.

1:35 AM

The Moked lets us know the army has called off the search. Its not crucial for me to know why they called everything off -- since its Shabbat. I send out a beeper message that all's clear, and drive my car back home. Shlep everything out of the car, make sure everything is ready in case I need to go out again. Quietly unlocking the door to my house, I put everything away and trudge upstairs, and flop down in bed.

Some people think I'm crazy for volunteering -- just as some think its crazy to live in a settlement...or even in Israel.

I do get alot of satisfaction from personally protecting my family and my yishuv...even if it's strange to drive on shabbat and talk on the phone...and even if it means less sleep.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


rockofgalilee said...

Did you find out afterwards what happened?
I was in a settlement in the shomron once for shabbos and right around maariv they announced that no one was allowed to leave the houses. So of course the women all said don't go and the men all left. The women then sat home nervous and worried until the men came home. I would hate to do that to my wife on a regular basis.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rock: I found out motzei shabbat, but won't post it. I can't post everything...I'll tell you in email.

I don't think my wife gets that worried about it. I'll ask her again what she thinks..or maybe, she could even reply here.

Don Radlauer said...

Jameel, do me one favor: Please don't get taken hostage. If you did, Vaguely Sinister Wife would get a call-up and I'd lose sleep - and we can't have that, can we? (g)

BTW - if you, like me, are overdue for some pistol practice, contact me via email. I'm lazy, but if I make a "date" out of it, I'll go.

The wife said...

There have been so many false alarms that I don't get nervous first I was more nervous.

yitz said...

Thanks for giving us an inside look at a typical - or not-so-typical -- Shabbat at the Muqata. BTW, Ami Ayalon is ready to evacuate [kri, expel] 60,000 more Jews from Yehuda & Shomron - what are we gonna do about this????

Elchonon said...

Back in tapuach days we had these all the time, You get used to it after a while. In gush katif though one weekend there were rockets raining down every 5 minutes. That was scary!

I sent it my application for a pistol.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

The Wife: Thanks. And Happy Birthday again :)

Don; Taken hostage? Thanks for the vote of confidence... :-P

I'm not overdue on pistol practice, since we train rather often. I'll let you know next time I go...

Yitz: Actually, its more like 120,000. Lets see what happens with the elections. One of the most important things to do is convince Qadima voters to switch to Likud. Face to face meetings are going to be very important.

nobody28 said...

Thank you so much. I love reading about Eretz Yisrael on your blog. The good, and unfortuantely the bad things. I spent some time there and I really do miss it so much.

I can relate a TINY drop do your feeling of driving and being mechalel shabbos - I had 2 babies on shabbos and had to go in a car to the hospital both times. VERY weird feeling.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

How come you can't post what happened? It would be too unanonymous?

orthomom said...

I don't care how used to it you are,or how many false alarms there have been - this sounds SCARY.

MUST Gum Addict said...

Steg, security is taken very seriously in Israel and if there's no reason to post what happened, you accept it and move on.

Thanks for the account Jameel, and thank for BEING there for us -- no, not just your community, but all of klal yisroel whose land you protect.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

momof4: Its still scary, but you can get used it (sort of). The first time I went on an ambulance call, that was very scary...but you get can used it, knowing its important.

Steg: Its not so much the anonymity. There are lots of interesting details I left out..its just not everything needs to be out in the open.

Nobody28: For some reason, medical emergencies bother me less on shabbat than security related ones. Actually, its probably a good thing not to get "used to it".

daat y said...

kol hakovod.You really are 'modern day chalutz'.Let them all be 'false alarms'.
It feels weird on Shabbos but as you know its not mechalel shabbat.

Jack's Shack said...

Tha trumps my story for why I was woken up Friday night, unless you speak with my son who was very pleased with the way I handled the monster in the room.

daaty said...

The problem is -there's nothing like shabbos sleep.-'sheina beshabbos ta-anug.'

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Jack: Yes, Friday night monsters can also be a pain. Glad yours wasn't as harrowing as my experience.

Trumping both our stories was last year...when a real terrorist was meters away from us and then he ran away. When the IDF caught him the following day, he confessed to being spitting distance from us, but he ran away because he didn't think he'd manage to kill anyone with all our unit's "presence."

That was heartwarming; lets hope they always stay away.

Ezzie said...

Crazy story...! Hashem Yishmor Eschem.

RR said...

Heart-stopping tale, Jameel! Glad everything turned out OK- too bad your sleep got interrupted, tho :-(

mivami said...

הרחמן הוא ינחילנו יום שכולו שבת ומנוחה
and thanks for being there in the meantime

Elster said...

Wonderful account, even if you are forced to exclude details.

How nervous are you when you go out on these calls? Does it ever become "matter of fact"?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Elster & others: I've been pondering posting stuff like this for a while. While it may seem heart-stopping, its become sort of common place. Granted its alot better now than 3 years ago, when it was every other night for a long there is an aspect of "familiarity" to it.

The more you train, the more we have situations like this, the better you react the next time.

I don't want to make a habit of posting stuff like this for a variety of reasons, most importantly for people not to get the wrong idea, that I live in a war zone. (and then we would never have guests for shabbat). Look at the bright side -- everything transpired OUTSIDE the yishuv, which is a very good thing. Best possible scenario...

Elchonon said...

oh and to add... I never can get used to being in a car on shabbas.. Its like every simple thing needs to be done! security truck low on gas ? well head on over to the army base and pump some gas up! Going to shull? gotta drive your car there if you live 5+ minute walk away... imagine a terrorist c'v breaking in and you need to run a few minutes to your car?

MC Aryeh said...

I am envious of your ability to sleep anywhere and in any position. I have never once been able to sleep on a plane! Your account makes for heart-racing reading. I think people adjust pretty quickly to the reality of their situations. I think it was only a few weeks until I became "comfortable" with tremping, bulletproof vests, tanks, guard towers, etc. while living in the Gush...I hope all such stories of yours like this end as this one did - with no one hurt and you coming home safe.

bec said...

your post just reinforced for me the importance of aliyah.
thank you.
and be safe.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Bec: While I appreciate your sentiments about aliya - how did you arrive at that conclusion from this posting?

MCA: Sleeping everywhere, in any position or situation is not exactly a gift; it can annoy many others who aren't able to.

What? I didn't hear the baby many times did she get up last night?

the sabra said...

hashem should watch over you and all those protecting His people

ifyouwillit said...

You do a vital job, thanks for sharing this reminder with us all.

bec said...

i strongly believe in the importance of aliyah. the more jews who come home, the more jews will be in israel. once we increase our numbers, especially in parts that are not currently annexed, the more likely it is that they will be annexed (in my opinion, anyway.)
when i read your post, i kept thinking of the sacrifices you are making not just for your family and your neighbors, and not just for israel, but for jews everywhere. too many of us don't appreciate israel, and are not willing to make the sacrifice to protect what is rightfully ours. reading your post (well, after reading your tu bishvat post first) it reminded me of how important it is, as a diaspora jew, to make aliyah. if a person plants a tree in israel, but is not there to water it, protect it and see it to fruition, then what has really been accomplished? everytime you go out on patrol, you are, in effect, protecting what you've planted, in order for it to grow.
i hope this explains!

Anonymous said...

I don't feel comfortable asking you this.

But I don't really get the fact that you feel living in such areas, is your mitzva of protecting Eretz yisroel, we wouldn't live in Harlem and we would rather understand you making sure your family is in a safe place where you are not in constant danger, then chosing to live in the frontline

I know you think different, but we Americans (or at least I as a yankee) can never understand it.

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