The first visit we had was with Major Chezi Deutch of the Home Front Command. We recalled the nightmare stories from the Lebanon War regarding how some municipalities could not handle the crisis and the Home Front Command was nowhere to be seen. As can be seen in the way the IDF is conducting the war, the lessons have been learned.
The Home Front Command is very prepared and is performing beautifully. Their job is to help the civilian population cope with the war, working very closely with the municipalities. You can tell by how many orange berets and vests are visible that they are executing their plans.
Next we went shopping. Yes, shopping. We purchased food at two Sderot supermarkets (supporting the local economy) in order to brighten the day of soldiers waiting to go into Gaza. The shopkeepers were so thrilled to see us, especially that we were buying for the soldiers.
We shopped along with students from Ayalim. Ayalim are student communities that along with their studies, volunteer in the local community. Since classes have not been taking place, they have been trying to help the soldiers by bringing them much needed toiletries, energy bars, socks, gloves etc. They call it "Ayalim B'miluim", Ayalim on Reserve.
After the shopping was complete, we went to a staging area where soldiers were waiting for orders. They were SO happy to see us. They were like kids in a candy store picking up gloves, socks, food, toothpaste, toothbrushes etc. Most importantly, we spent quality time with them discussing why we were there. We weren't there just to bring them some stuff. We were there to tell them very clearly that we support the people of Israel, that they are not alone and that we care about them.
The warmth in which the soldiers embraced us and thanked us was overwhelming. We spoke of the unity of our People, that we are one large family and that we need to stick together. Many of the soldiers I spoke to were from Gilad Shalit's platoon so their motivation was very high. All the soldiers' morale was sky high!