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Dispatch from a bomb shelter somewhere in Israel

A day under rocket attacks, driving between home and work, and praying not to get hit en route
Illustrative. A police sapper inspects a house in the southern Israeli town of Netivot on November 12, 2019, following a rocket attack from Gaza City. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
Illustrative. A police sapper inspects a house in the southern Israeli town of Netivot on November 12, 2019, following a rocket attack from Gaza City. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)

Tuesday, 5:45 a.m. Supposedly, another normal morning, in which I will wake up within 15 minutes and go to work. But today, something is different. Red Alert is what wakes me up. Within seconds, I leap out of bed. So does my daughter. We pick up our two dogs, and find ourselves in the shelter. One minute later, we cannot ignore the booms coming from outside.

A few minutes later, we can go out of the shelter. There is no point in going back to bed anymore, and, in the chaos around me, I get ready to go to work. Obviously, the global Israeli security guidelines will change today. But at this point, no one has answers for me how.

7:00 a.m, I get to work. I settle down in my office, while the Red Alert beeps on from my cell phone don’t stop. Simultaneously, I have almost 20 WhatsApp messages, mostly from relatives and friends. I “exchange experiences” with my family members: my husband, luckily located overseas; my sister, situated in another bombed area; my parents, who were forced into a shelter in a third bombed area; and my two daughters, both in my home fire zone. While talking to them — more Red Alerts are heard, forcing both of them into the shelters again for a few more minutes. At the same time, I try to understand from my employer’s security department, in a fourth, as strategic, area, if I should be at work, whatsoever.

At the same time, I get a report from my daughters that two rockets fell in our town. The report is backed up by images of rocket parts from the two sites — one in the middle of a street, between two cars; the other in the center of a playground. Miraculously, the two rockets fell in relatively open areas, resulting in only one slightly wounded woman and almost no damage.

I am still at work. Nobody here has answers for me, and in the meantime I try to maneuver between all the calls, messages, alerts, and also listen to the news reports — maybe from there, I will get the missing information. At 8:30, a global employer’s message finally arrives, in the organization’s internal email: “Upon the IDF’s command, the company will be closed today. Employees that have arrived, are requested to leave for their homes.” I had to make the trip all this way of 40 kilometers (some 25 miles) to read this email.

I am getting ready again, this time to travel in the opposite direction — back home. All this, as the messages still go on, and the rocket attacks are growing. Now I have to drive all those 40 kilometers back, praying not to be subject to a rocket attack on my way.

I’m off on the road again, more or less with everyone else who came to work in the area. Traffic is a bit hectic, but in the end it loosens up, and 40 minutes later, I arrive back home.

Being subjected to attacks from all directions is the price we, the Jews, have to pay for living in our country. All that we have left now is to follow the never-ending red alerts, and wait for the political and military echelons to put an end to it, so that we can return to a normal routine. Until next time.

Written in a shelter in Southern Israel.

About the Author
Holding a PhD degree in linguistics from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, I am the Principal Linguist in an Israeli Hi-Tech company, dealing with artificial intelligence. Also, I give enrichment lectures in language issues to all audiences. I have a previous experience in writing several guest-columns for various Jewish journals in the US and Canada. I am based in Israel.
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