The Iron Lions

Testimonials from the war in israel, Oct 23'

Maya Alper

Nova Festival

I don't usually share too much on social media, but after running for my life, being shot at, and hiding in a bush for six hours, I realize that there are things worth sharing. 

I bring to you my Nova story - I don't judge what is right or wrong, but only what I can say from my own perspective. Heaven and hell are choices, they are states of mind that I can choose. 

I'll spare you details and graphic descriptions because I know we've all experienced enough of that, but I was in the heart of the combat zone, and for 6 hours I hid in a bush 2 kilometers from Be'eri. 

I heard bursts of automatic gunfire from the settlements around me, knowing that terrorists are slaughtering innocent women, children and men.

I saw the people who were with me when we ran together to save our lives, being shot to death, and the smile on the terrorist's face when he shot the girl who was with me and she fell to her death... 

I saw the fear, the worry, and the incredible power of the Battalion that rescued me from the bush. They knew they were on a mission to free Be'eri and all the families there and were willing to lose their lives to do so. I will always be grateful for these brave souls and the sacrifices they made to save me and every human being from this hell.

In the midst of all this, surrounded by hell, so much death and hatred, I sat in my bush, breathing, smiling and praying in my own unique way, to myself for peace and love.

I suddenly realized that among all the explosions, shots and screams of innocent people – the birds were still chirping, and behind all of the smoke the sky was still blue and I continued to concentrate on that. Every time a thought of stress, fear, anger or revenge came to my mind – I stopped, took a breath and found at least 3 things to be thankful for in my present moment: "Thank you for my bush that is protecting me, thank you for the birds that sing to me, and thank myself that I am functioning so well in the situation I'm in right now." It was the only way I could live amidst all the chaos. If I don't have control over what's happening around me, then I choose to take control over what's happening inside me, because that's all I have. 

I cannot even begin to describe the horrors the kidnapped children and men in Gaza are experiencing now that I am safe and protected. And the unimaginable things that our brave soldiers are going through during these very moments, including my little brother who fought a few kilometers from me in Be'eri, not knowing that his sister was so close and in need of rescue. I think what I'm trying to say is that I don't have the answer to how to bring world peace. However, I brought peace and heaven to myself, in the heart of the hell I was in. 

We are winning – in both meanings of the word. A lot of friends and family ask how they can support me in the best way, so here is my answer. 

If possible, watch less news because it has been proven that that information affects our nervous system! Instead you can be more present with yourself and with anything that comes up. 

Be with your families and your loved ones who are here with us. 

Use the time to create meaningful moments and tell them how much you love them. 

Please be careful how you express yourself, especially on social media. Your words have so much power, please use them wisely. Every time a thought comes to you, causing feelings of fear, anger, hatred or revenge, stop, feel the feeling, shake them and breathe them out. 

Something that helped me cope in the last week and might sound a little absurd -- to dance and move the hips as much as possible because the emotions and traumas are stored in our pelvis. Get your emotions moving, don't let the trauma get stuck in your body!

We have the strength as a people and as a community to focus on how united we all are. Since that Saturday, each and every person in this country has put their lives on hold and is contributing and helping in their own way. It's amazing to see how much strength and power we have as a people. How magical it is that in a second there are no longer left wingers opposing right wingers, religious people against the ultra-orthodox. We are all there for each other. Even when there are government forces more powerful than us who aim to separate us, factually we are all fighting together for our freedom. Also those Bedouins from Rahat who got me out of this hell, who since the morning did not stop or rest and, in addition to me, rescued dozens more Israelis from the area. They too are fighting for our freedom. We are all fighting together for our right to live as free and safe human beings on this land!

I send strength and love to all the families who lost their dearest ones, to all the hostages in Gaza. To our brave soldiers who sacrifice their lives to protect our home, and to every living thing on earth. To my brothers and sisters who came to celebrate and rejoice, to the families from the surrounding areas of Gaza, or to anyone who is currently under stress and 

Please keep breathing, and choose love every moment of the day. I have attached photos of moments of sanity from my bush, a video taken an hour before I was rescued. May every living being be free, every living creature be happy, every living creature anywhere in the world always be free and happy