A Japanese man living in Tel Aviv is among the parents praying for the well-being of a child serving in the Israeli Army as it fights against the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas.
Yusuke Hirabayashi, 48, who lives in the central Israeli city, received a smartphone message from his 19-year-old son on Oct. 7 — the day Hamas launched a cross-border attack on Israel — saying, “I’m setting off to join the war.”
Hirabayashi, whose ex-wife is Israeli, said he received his eldest son’s news calmly.
The son joined the army in December and belongs to an elite airborne troop.
After learning that his offspring would be responsible for guarding areas near the border with the Gaza Strip, Hirabayashi texted him, saying, “Don’t kill civilians.” His son replied: “Of course I won’t. We’re not like them [on the other side].”
Facing the possibility that his son could enter the Gaza Strip, Hirabayashi wrote, “I hope you won’t get caught up with thoughts of revenge; retain your moral compass under all circumstances.”
Hirabayashi mused: “I can’t help wondering why my 19-year-old son has to step into a battlefield. It’s unthinkable in Japan for somebody’s child to go to war. However, I want people to know that this reality exists in the other parts of the world.”