BGU Students Reflect on the War

August 1, 2014

Negev Development & Community Programs

As Operation Protective Edge continues in Israel, Hillel Israel gathered stories of several students impacted by the conflict. Below are the personal experiences of students from Hillel at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev.

Hillel “BGU couple” Matan and Katerina met during their mandatory military service and have been together ever since. Katerina is a second year student in the Department of Politics and Government, and Matan is a second year student studying computer science and philosophy.

Both are officers in the Israel Defense Force, and were called for reserve duty shortly after the war began.

Matan states what many student reservists are thinking: “It may sound weird for a student to say this, but I can’t wait to have final exams again and to just go back to my routine life.” BGU was forced to cancel exams and all other academic activities since the war began.

Katerina and Matan

Katerina and Matan

Gady is master’s student in biomedical engineering. “As a result of the frequent bombing from Gaza, many of my friends have left their student apartments in Beer-Sheva and gone home to their parents in the central and northern parts of the country. I decided to stay here as this is my home now and I don’t want to ‘run away.’

“Especially as I have not been called for reserve duty, I want to fulfill my civic duty and help others during these hard times, so I volunteer with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, visiting the elderly at their homes and delivering groceries and medicines. I also volunteer with the Beer-Sheva municipality hotline.”

Hundreds of students from BGU are volunteering in Beer-Sheva and surrounding communities. Read more here>>

Pola is a second year student of political science. “Since exams were canceled at Ben-Gurion University due to the situation, I’ve spent most of the past two weeks with my sister and nephews. It’s been very challenging to not only cope with two energetic toddlers, but also to deal with their anxieties and questions surrounding the situation, questions like, ‘where is daddy?’ and ‘why do the sirens go off all the time?'”

Alona is a second year student of anthropology, sociology and governance. “In light of the recent events in Israel, students have started a Facebook group where local and foreign students focus on spreading facts, trying to battle biased international media coverage.

“There are two things that are very hard for me with this situation,” she adds. “The first is reading the international news and learning how much hatred exists towards Israel. The second is the uncertainty. Exams were canceled with no make-up date in sight, and missiles whistling everyday over Rishon are keeping me on edge.”

For more about her work, visit “Israel Under Fire” on Facebook and on Twitter.

David is a second year mathematics and computer science student at BGU. “It all started when a friend of mine was called for reserve duty. After a few days in Gaza, we learned that he was a bit short on necessities, such as underwear and socks. We assumed he wasn’t the only one in need of these supplies, so we started approaching businesses all over the country to donate food and supplies.

“I served as a combat fighter during my mandatory service, and as I wasn’t called for reserve duty yet, I decided that helping from the ‘backlines’ will be my reserve duty for now.”

Click here to support scholarships and other assistance for BGU’s returning student-soldiers >>