In any war, campaign or operation there is a point at which the list of casualties grows at an alarming rate, and chilling stories emerge from the battlefield. And that moment has an immediate and resounding impact.
At that point, there is no difference between commanders and fighters, battle-hardened as they are, and civilians in the home front. The heart still skips a beat and blood still runs cold in the veins - even for those who were not directly involved in the fighting, even if those who were there did not lie about how the battle was fought.
This pain comes from a sense of loss and defeat, even if forces on the ground are achieving their aims and carrying out their mission.
But one can – and must - get past this. I experienced it in the Six-Day War and in similar situations since. What allows you to overcome this crisis is the knowledge that the human sacrifice was not in vain. Knowing that the fallen and wounded, the bereaved parents and those who are now permanently disabled have saved the lives of many others who needed protection and sacrifice of the fallen.
This is the case now. Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to end to the clear and present danger to the lives of Israelis posed by Hamas' subterranean terrorist mechanism. This infrastructure was planned and built for one purpose only - to kill indiscriminately, kidnap hostages and bring the State of Israel to its knees (like with Gilad Shalit) and worse.
Even the threat of rocket fire is not negligible, despite the fact that Iron Dome and the precise IAF attacks have created an illusion of security. We knew there was a threat, but there was a sense that our lives were not really in danger if we only rushed to our protected spaces.
This was a virtual war, and we thought that the worst thing that could happen to us would be to run out of Iron Dome batteries or targets for the Air Force. This is not the case. The rocket threat from Hamas is real, and if goes on much longer there will also be more casualties - it is a question of statistics. And equally important – Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is watching from the sidelines and taking notes.
We saw the results of the attacks on Gaza, and winced at the sight of destruction and dead children, but the ground operation rubbed in our faces all the ugliness and pain and made it personal for us.
There is no doubt that the events of Saturday night in the Gaza Strip will be presented by Hamas – and one has to admit, quite rightly so - as a victory of minds and media. The organization and its leaders will try to leverage this macabre achievement in the diplomatic negotiations that have not yet begun. But we cannot play into the hands of the terrorists who have so far in this operation failed in every attempt to harm us.
In the meantime, in these difficult days of war, the rumor-mongers on the social networks and on Whatsapp must behave responsibly and show some restraint. The wild rumors are unfair to those families whose sons are now fighting in Gaza. It's time to break this habit.
The Israeli public cannot crumble, and the media cannot give off distress signals, not because it is neither pretty nor dignified to cry and show pain, but because any signs of distress or public pressure on the government to withdraw the troops will only increase Hamas and Islamic Jihad's motivation to keep fighting - and harden their stance during ceasefire negotiations.
This would lead to drawn-out negotiations, prolonged fighting and a higher casualty rate on both sides.
Even worse, we would be back here in a year or two, facing the same dilemmas and the same pain. So we have to grit our teeth, and keep blowing up every last tunnel and shaft we can find, until we can reach a durable, long-term ceasefire that the State of Israel and the Israeli government can live with.