IDF spokesman warns against toy explosives on Purim out of consideration to soldiers

One soldier said, ‘Every small sound we hear takes us back [to Gaza]. We don’t want to be there.’

Troy O. Fritzhand, The Algemeiner

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari released a video on Friday, shortly before Shabbat, calling on Israelis to avoid using toy explosives and other noisy objects during the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim.

“Don’t throw explosives on the holiday. We in the IDF will continue to do everything to embrace the soldiers wounded in body and soul and their families. You have fulfilled your duty; now we will fulfill our duty,” Hagari said.

Purim — which commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from annihilation at the hands of Haman, an official of the Achaemenid Empire — is told in the Book of Esther. It is known as an especially joyous and fun holiday when people dress up in costumes.

The video also included soldiers from various units injured in battle speaking about the issue.

“I have never been in favor of explosives,” one soldier said. “There are many soldiers that it can hurt them from the same sounds and noises that sound like real explosions. Every small sound we hear takes us back [to Gaza]. We don’t want to be there.”

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The soldier continued: “We experienced wounded and killed, and it brings us exactly to the same spot. We don’t want to be there. Moments of blood, explosions, and screams. Think of me as your big brother. Would you want your big brother to hear something explode and it makes him jump? Of course not.”

The soldier concluded: “Every small explosion can bring you back to the hardest moments you have ever experienced. Your sensitivity can help us not to return to that place. Especially this year, don’t throw explosives on the holiday.”

According to professionals, mental health has emerged as a critical challenge facing the IDF and Israeli society as a whole since the Gaza war’s outbreak. Due to the war — which began with the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust on Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists killed over 1,200 people and took 253 as hostages — the entire country is considered in a state of trauma, according to a leading psychologist group.

According to a study released last week, hundreds of thousands of Israelis are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the war. Many of those at risk are soldiers. The IDF has taken extra measures to look after their mental health, including army-mandated therapy sessions for all soldiers who served in Gaza or in the north at the border with Lebanon.

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The IDF also opened a new mental health center at the army’s Tel HaShomer base in February specifically geared for soldiers leaving Gaza. Per IDF numbers at the time of the opening, more than 30,000 reservists had met with mental health professionals, with 202 soldiers being released from service due to mental health issues discovered and an additional 1,700 referred for advanced screening and treatment.

With Purim set to begin on Saturday evening, there have been fears that costumes or loud noises could startle soldiers who left service and may be suffering from discovered or under-the-surface mental health stresses due to what they saw.

Amid such concerns, there have been calls for those celebrating to avoid dressing as soldiers and carrying fake guns. The call by Hagari goes further, however, asking them not to use popular toy explosives — which, though harmless, can make loud and sudden noises, sometimes accompanied by a quick flash.

The toy explosives are usually thrown by kids in the various street parties and at synagogues when the name “Haman” is said.