Imagine you’re 12 years-old, it’s a hot, summer afternoon and all you want is your favorite ice cream. You ask your mother to let you go get one from the store just a couple blocks from your house and eventually she says yes. As you’re walking the two blocks to the ice cream store, you’re watching everything around you. You finally reach the store and as you’re about to walk in, it blows up.
That was an afternoon Hen Mazzig survived during the Second Intifada in Israel. There is one thing Hen remembers so specifically; his mom saying “thank G-d you’re alive.” She spoke nothing of hate, nothing of revenge but rather appreciation of life. That terrorist attack took the life of a grandmother and her 2-year-old granddaughter.
Today, Hen will tell you that afternoon changed his life. While most would think it’s because of his close encounter with terror and ultimately death, he will say it’s because of his mother’s words, “thank G-d you’re alive.” Hen realized the violence and terror would never bring peace and that the only way to do so was through helping the other side.
“If you help the other side prosper, peace will come faster.” Hen lived this belief when he joined the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The COGAT unit helps to build infrastructure, provides farming and security training and humanitarian aid in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.
When Hen was serving in the IDF, he was called to a horrific scene. Two Palestinian children were playing in a field with an explosive device they found that had been left there to blow up and kill an IDF COGAT car. Hen and a fellow officer picked the children up and rushed them to an Israeli hospital, ultimately saving their lives. A few months later, Hen went back to the family home of one of the boys he had saved. When he got there, he was hugged by the mother and father, and for the first time, Hen was looked at like another human, not an enemy.
To read the the full article in the Times of Israel, click here.
Contributed by California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo CAMERA Fellow Jody Miller.