A little over an hour ago, I got off the phone with my father after saying: “Yes, things in Israel in the South are not just heating up…they are HOT. But, here in Tel Aviv it feels like we’re living in another country.”
Famous last words, said with a hubris that makes me turn red right now. About 7 minutes later I sat at my desk as a siren started sounding…and my first conscious thought was…that’s a weird sound…maybe they are testing the sound system. WOW, my ignorance is embarrassing.
As I looked out my window with genuine bewilderment, I watched people running across the plaza next to my building…and it took me a full 5 seconds to realize…they were running because they were scared. Of an attack.
Not for one second had I considered the personal ramifications of what was taking place in the South – other than to have called and offered a place to stay to friends who live near Beersheva. Not for even a fraction of a second had I tried to think of my action plan. Where do I go? What do I do? Am I supposed to take a gas mask? Should I have food or batteries in my house?
This, coming from a Floridian whose only concept of an “air attack” while growing up was the threat of the annual hurricane season we contended with. But we had DAYS to plan for those – not 60 seconds to run to my nearest shelter. And our greatest concern was making sure we had ice cream in the refrigerator that we would “have to” eat before the electricity went out.
And yet, I do have memories, of a year living in Jerusalem during the second Intifada, when the bombing in Gilo was so loud that we used to hold our breath. Of months listening to the sound of a boom – and from its volume trying to determine how close it was. And then, from Boston, watching televised scenes of a bombing at Hebrew University that stole the lives of three dear friends.
And so, tonight, the siren woke me from my “slumber”, or at least from the fantasy world I had been living in thinking we were untouchable.
Last night I wrote the following Facebook status: “Friends, yesterday alone, 83 rockets were fired on Israel from the Gaza strip by Hamas. While we in Israel are fortunate to have Iron Dome technology that thwarted 25 rockets and helps keep us safe, much of the southern part of our country goes to sleep tonight waiting for the sound of the siren to force them into their bomb shelters. I have to imagine there are also thousands of mothers in Gaza who are equally praying for the safety of their children as well.
As one who prays for peace, I am outraged that this violence and terror continues as the main tactic used by Hamas to gain Palestinians their much-needed self-determination. Hamas is playing with human lives – ours and their own –There are men, women and children who WILL be affected by Israel’s right to defend itself.
I ask that there be a worldwide effort to stop Hamas from the continued rocket barrage into our country and thus keep their own children safe in the process.”
These words ring no truer yesterday than today. Except that today those rockets reached closer than I even imagined as I wrote them, and our army is in the process to defend us. Please, if you read this, implore those who can help to end the madness–and keep each other safe.
The loss of civilian life is a travesty. Children should sleep peacefully, the scariest thing to threaten waking them – imaginary monsters in their closets – not the impending boom signaling potential for massive destruction.
I can only hope that the first siren I heard is also the last, and that all those in harm’s way stay safe.