By Dina Tanners
In the spring of 1972, I had just married my first husband, Paul Tanners. We moved to Kibbutz Merom Golan, the first kibbutz established on the Golan Heights—a volatile area that was the center of a territorial dispute with neighboring Syria. I became pregnant with my daughter Timna in September, just a few months after moving to the kibbutz. One day in November, when I was just two months’ pregnant, I was in the machsan (communal laundry room), ironing and folding clean clothes. We had been told that there was a tense border situation building up. In mid-morning, a member of the kibbutz (who also was a reserve army officer), Micha Fichman, stopped by on his bike and told us to leave the flimsy structure where the laundry facility was held, and to go home and get into an underground shelter. Since our kibbutz was on the border, we had very well-made shelters. Just as I had finished walking the two blocks to my reinforced cement-walled apartment building, the shelling began. I hit the ground, waiting for a few seconds, and then ran outside again, just barely making it the ten feet to the entrance of our shelter when the shelling began again. The shelling lasted 20 scary minutes.
I found out afterwards that Micha then biked to the kibbutz musach (garage) where kibbutz vehicles were repaired. It was a good 50 feet from the garage entrance to the shelter. The workers thought that the cannons that the terrorists were shooting from Syria were being shot all at once, so after a volley, they ran to the shelter. Unfortunately, they were wrong about the timing, and more shots came. The ammunition was the type that exploded about six feet into the air, sending many tiny pieces of shrapnel all around. Micha got hit by the shrapnel and was very badly wounded. About an hour after the shelling ended, he died in the arms of a nurse who was a good friend of ours. With his warning, Micha had saved my life and the life of my unborn daughter. Today, my daughter is married with two young sons, who also owe their lives to Micha’s bravery and unselfishness. Sadly, shortly after Micha’s death, his wife discovered that she was pregnant with their first child. She gave birth to a daughter, whom she named Gili, which in Hebrew means, “my joy.”