I can describe the reality here, I can ask you to imagine what it's like, but no matter what I will say, it will be very hard for anyone who's not here to comprehend. In the past three days, 350 missiles have been fired to Israeli cities, most of them to southern cities. In the past 12 years, more than 12000 have been fired to Israel. As we speak, rockets and missiles are fired to Southern and Central Israel, and to Gaza. Civilians from both sides are being killed, and it is scary. It is very important to say that Iron Dome does NOT block every missile fired to our direction, not even close. Israel is under the attack of a terror organization called Hamas, and is now defending itself and the lives of Israeli citizens. What I believe will give you the best understanding of the situation here, are live testimonies from Israelis, who kindly agreed to let me translate and publish their Facebook statuses and chats with me:
Etty Daniel Levi lives in Ra'anana, which is still considered a "safe zone". Earlier today, she was listening to the radio, and wrote down her thoughts: " Just so we could make things clear- as I was driving today, listening to the radio, the broadcaster told the listeners about 15 (!!) times in ten minutes that there is an alert in 6 different cities in southern Israel, with the music playing in the background. In between songs he was reminding the listeners about how you should react when the alert sounds in your area. This is not right, and that's reality. My heart goes to the people in southern Israel and the IDF soldiers protecting all of us. Be safe everyone!"
Noam Avimor is originally from central Israel, but this October she moved down south to attend Be'er Sheva University. This week was the first time she heard the alarm notifying the missiles arrival: "The first time, I was caught unprepared. The alarm woke me up and I did not know what to do. It isn't something you can get used to. Everywhere you go you need to check for available shelters; you need to remember not to listen to loud music while walking down the street, and go to sleep with nice clothes, just in case…On Wednesday we were sitting in the classroom when an announcement came out, telling us that school is off and that we should go back to our homes. I ran to the bus station, which was packed with people trying to get on. About 30 minutes after we boarded the bus, the rain of rockets started to pour. Some friends of mine, who left a little later, had to get off the bus for a cover several times on their way home. On the way home, my battery ended, and my phone was shut down, People were worried like hell…"
Avital Sykora lives in Jerusalem, where an alarm was first heard just several hours ago. Yesterday, she posted: "Reading an article to try and figure out what my best options are for a bomb shelter, should the need arise. This is the reality we live in." Today's message was a bit different: "So now I know how to get in to my building's shelter. Holy fucking shit, shaking like all hell, heart beating a mile a minute. People saying explosion heard in the distance."
A 14 year old girl from Ashdod asked me to tell her story, without publishing her name. Her house is at the rocket range and for the past week she and her family were living in their shelter. This is her reality: "When I hear the alarms I get scared right away, because I don't know if it would fall far from us or right where we are. After a week living like this, we went to my grandmother who lives in central Israel. We went there to feel a bit safer, but now, it is hard to say what "safe" really is…We didn't want the life of fear to take over, but anything can happen. It's boring, staying inside all the time, and I wish this will end soon"
Amit Alexander Lev is a Tel-Aviv resident. Yesterday night, when the alarm was heard for the first time, he had no idea what to do: "I was in a photo exhibition in a bar, when someone said that it was announced on the radio that there's an alarm. I went outside, and heard the sound of an explosion. Everyone looked at each other, and we had no idea what to do next. I don't like this situation, and hate to think it might get worse, and that more people, from both sides, will be killed."
Gali Zemach is 14 years old girl from Kadesh Barmea: "I live in the south, but on the other side of the south, so we barely hear the alarm. However, the school I go to is at the fire range, and it is closed since Thursday. My friends from school experience this life on a daily basis for years now. It is something they are used to, and last week they tried to teach me how to keep calm. It's very stressful and scary, but I learned that I must stay calm. I think it is terrible that for some people, this is routine. I can speak to a friend on the phone, then she can tell me, in her most relaxed voice, that she needs to go to the shelter, and she'll call me back in a few- just like that…The world needs to understand that Israel did not initiate this, and not started shooting for fun. People in the south are suffering for a long time now. Missiles and rockets are part of their lives, and no one should live like this."
Amos Holin, from Herzliya in central Israel, is due to go visit soldiers is their bases in the next couple of days, and deliver them snacks, soft drinks and cigarettes: "When I was a soldier during Cast Lead operation, people came to me and did the same. It warmed my heart during very hard and confusing times, when I finally realized that I am fighting for the people of Israel, and that they support me and stand behind me at all times. Now, when I am a released soldier, it is very important to me to do the same, and show my honest gratitude for the IDF."
To end this post, here are videos that caught my eye, and explain, very simply, our reality:
Israel Under Fire: Life in the South
Prager University: The Middle East Problem
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