For hours on Wednesday, the WhatsApp social networking app was flooded with rumors about the identities of soldiers hurt in the Hezbollah ambush on the Golan Heights. The names spread through force of rumor, long before the identities were officially published by the IDF, following notification of the next of kin.
For the widow of an officer who was killed in Operation Protective Edge, the ambush brought back memories of the day her husband was killed, and of the insensitive way in which she learned of it. She implored Israelis to refrain from passing on rumors about the identities of soldiers killed in action.
"About the wave of rumors yesterday – six months ago, I heard a lot of rumors on WhatsApp,” wrote Sivan Bar-Or, widow of Major Tzafrir Bar-Or. “I heard that Golani soldiers were killed, that there are senior officers killed, that eight were killed just today, and wait, there are more… and names, names!!!
“And phone calls…'How is Tzafrir?' 'Have you talked to Tzafrir?' 'What, you still haven't heard from him?' 'Tell me, is he inside [Gaza]?'
“You all told me that my husband had been killed. Long before the knock on the door. You all told me that my husband would not return…before the IDF told me.
"And what about the mother who read on WhatsApp that her son had been killed, but he turned out to be fine. What about her heart?
"Six months ago, my husband was killed in Gaza. Everyone knew before me, everyone knew more than me, they sent me messages. They called to send out feelers, to sniff…to check.
"Responsibility, folks. Responsibility. Irresponsible people fan a fire in a field of thorns.
"Everyone here sees himself as a representative of the IDF Spokesman and, with the click of a keyboard, sends out messages with names of wounded, killed, reports, orders of battle…locations and times.
"People, this is not gossip, it isn't funny!
"'There is a dead Deputy Battalion Commander in Golani,' that is what they wrote me in a message. I sat on the floor at home, I stroked my stomach, inside which was my son, I looked at my daughter playing, and my heart exploded into fragments. From the messages that you sent!
"It's time to learn what responsibility is. Restraint. These messages are reaching dear friends of mine whose husbands are fighting for our home – all of us.
"They reach parents whose sons are breathing dust on the roads and defending our state with their bodies. There are people here, flesh and blood, with a heart that is wound tight, trembling hands. And you, with a stroke of the hand, you feed them with rumors. And today, again there is another widow, another year-old orphan girl, and another boy who will be born without a father.
"Today I am reliving it, and today I relived your rumors. From today on, you will not be spreading rumors. You are taking responsibility and stopping the crime against worried souls.
"You will not ask inquiring questions. Want to help? Ask if your help is needed with the children, or the house. Cook something, create distractions. We know how to worry without your help. And if something should happen, you will know before us.”
Sivan was 26 weeks pregnant when Tzafrir was killed in the battle of Shejaiya, which involved urban ground combat because of Israel's attempts to lower civilian deaths among the Arab population. She gave birth to their son in October.