The military operation this year was Watchman on the Walls. We at Maoz not only kept abreast of what was happening so we’d know when to go down to our bomb shelters; we had staff members and children of staff in the IDF who were on the front lines fighting Hamas.

Among the prayer requests our soldiers sent us during the operation was a request for the people of Gaza. It’s a heavy place to be, when, as a believer, you feel a love for people as God’s creation—but you’re fighting against a dangerous enemy who hides among those very people. Even in their unsaved state, Israelis wrestle with wanting to defend their homeland—and having to take lives in the process. Many have come home with PTSD, suffering for years after having to make that terrible decision. Former Prime Minister Golda Meir is said to have once lamented, “One day when we have peace, we may forgive them for killing our sons, but we cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill theirs.”

The whole operation was over in just a few weeks, but everyday felt like forever. There was so much they couldn’t tell us until the operation was over. Once they were safe at home, however, we got a better picture of their experience (excluding sensitive information they weren’t allowed to share, of course). While I Stand With Isreal does not involve itself with any military activity, we know IDF soldiers are people with basic needs just like all of us. Most of the soldiers on the field fighting these Hamas terrorists are under the age of 20. Among the riveting war stories they shared, was the side note that when they came back to their bases from their missions, they had nowhere to sit and rest. The lucky ones could claim the handful of plastic chairs lying around. The others would have to make do with blankets on the ground, covered in desert dust.

As far as we were concerned, this was not how we wanted the men and women who just took out rocket launchers aimed at our homes to be greeted when they returned from the battlefield. We called up the manufacturer, negotiated and ordered as many sitting corners as we could within our budget.

Sometimes being able to rest properly can be just as critical to doing a good job as the proper training.

So, we not only funded the sitting corners, but also sponsored special days of rest off the base. Providing “rest” between missions felt like such an insufficient way to support our troops—but the soldiers couldn’t have felt more grateful. They sent us tons of photos and video clips of their time off base (we can only share a few) and on each bench they placed a plaque so Israeli soldiers (many who have heard of I Stand With Israel) would know they are being cared for by lovers of Israel from the nations.