For the first time in my 24 years on this planet, I am truly afraid. After three days of barely leaving my house and two nights of waking up to the sounds of explosions (some actually happened, some only in my head,) all I want is for this operation to end and for the people of Israel to feel safe again.
In the past 72 hours, almost 400 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. Hamas, the terror organization that rules the strip, has set a goal to destroy Israel and all who live there, and it won't stop at anything.
During Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, I watched from afar as Hamas fired at cities in southern Israel, and participated in the "media war," to stop anti-Israel activists from posting pictures of dead bodies from Syria and claim they were taken in Gaza. With one eye on the television screen, I lived my life and continued to enjoy my daily routine while watching the people who were unfortunate to live near Gaza run for their lives when the "code red" alarm went off.
This time is different. This time, for the first time, I am out of the "safe zone." On Tuesday night at 10pm, I heard my first real-time "code red" alarm. It was in the early afternoon when my dad called me, asked if I want to come to my parent's house, which is a 5-minute walk from my house, until my boyfriend returns from work. I can't imagine what would have happened if I would've declined that invite and be home alone when the siren went off. I was not prepared for this, and if it wasn't for my father, I would have probably frozen right on the spot.
Unlike the people living in southern Israel, who only have 15 to 40 seconds to find shelter, we in the center have about 60 to 90 seconds. Together, my father, my brother and I took the stairs, and went down six floors to the underground shelter of the building. Every second, another door was open, and our neighbors joined us, with the children in our midst still sleeping. In about a minute, we were all cramped in the sheltered room, a bit shocked, waiting for the alarm to go off and praying that no one will get hurt.
In those minutes of uncertainty, my haze of confusion wore off, as I realized where I am and what is happening. My home, my haven, is in the fire-range. Terror has reached my town, my street, and managed to paralyze us. What I thought happened far away from me, mostly on the television screen and Facebook feed, is right at my doorstep.
While the Israel Defense Forces take measures in avoiding civilian casualties and aims to destroy terror cells, Hamas uses Gaza civilians as human shields and aims to civilian centers and cities. At the same time, last night Israel coordinated 100 trucks of humanitarian aid to Gaza today and 130 trucks the day before. At Erez crossing, 80 people from Gaza crossed to Israel for medical attention yesterday and 100 people crossed the day before. Hamas does not have that compassion towards Israeli civilians. They want to see us all dead.
Nontheless, here's no doubt in my heart that Israel will win this. I put my faith in our brave soldiers and know they will defeat terror. So far, thanks to high-edge technology and citizens' high alert, no one in Israel got hurt, and most of the damage was done to property alone. But I can't help but thinking when will our luck strike out, and what else they got planned for us.
Today, most of the Israeli population is under fire, when those who live in southern Israel spend their days and nights in shelters. We are scared, but also strong and united, now more than ever. No one gets to threaten our home and get away with this. We are here to stay!