Israel has called up some 360,000 reservists to duty after declaring war on Hamas. Among them is 21-year-old Andrew Silberman.
"I received a call from my commander talking about how I could get back and how I could help with the effort," he told Scripps News. "It was just about trying to be in the right place so that I could respond to that call of action."
Silberman, who volunteered in the Israeli military for two years through a program for non-Israeli Jews, was at his childhood home in suburban Chicago when he got the call from his former commander and learned about the death of his friend Binyamin.
"He still had two months left of his service and he had been killed in battle in a community called Kfar Aza, which is right outside of the Gaza Strip," Silberman said.
As much of the world reacted in shock to Hamas' surprise attack on Israel, Silberman said goodbye to his family and got on the first plane to Tel Aviv. And while he has faith in his training, Silberman's mother Lenna says she's both proud and terrified.
"He wants to honor Binyamin's name and Binyamin's spirit by fighting for what they believed in," she said. "There are moments where maybe I'm in denial, but I'm OK. And there are moments where I'm holding back tears. And there are moments where I'm angry, really angry. And it's indescribable until you are a mother sending your child to war."
As the humanitarian situation in Gaza quickly deteriorates, Silberman was asked about the plight of civilians there who are under a complete siege of relentless bombardment.
"We do our best to try and minimize civilian casualties," he responded. "But at the end of the day, Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. And Hamas, very cowardly, uses that incredibly densely packed zone in order to be a base for their terror."
A few moments later in the interview, Silberman thought he had received his orders.
"As we were talking, I got a message about being sent back to reserve duty," he said.
However, it ended up being a false alarm.
So, for now, just like the rest of the world, Silberman is waiting to learn Israel's next move and whether he will be called to action.
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