My Father’s First War

It was a Friday night, July 11, the first time my dad heard a siren. He had landed only hours earlier, and we were having dinner at a rooftop restaurant in the Tachana development in Jaffa. Over the week that he was here, my father, Norman Radow, documented some of his experiences so they could be shared with the world. Here is one of those experiences.

” Just at hour ago we had a meeting in Rishon Letzion which is ten minutes south of Tel Aviv. That’s a bit closer to Gaza. Just as our meeting was ending the sirens blared. Our investor said “Norman, Zach, c‎ome, come quickly.” we started down the stairs to a real vault three floors below. We were met by a dozen other people on the stairs. But one women stood out. She was about 30 and she was running past one person after another. When she got to me–and I was moving quite quickly–she pushed me aside while shouting that I wasn’t moving fast enough.

We got down and the landlord–our investor–opened up this giant metal door that is like a safe and is made of solid steel. Everyone piled in. Everyone except the women who passed us on the stairwell. She collapsed at the vault’s entrance, put her hands over her head and started crying uncontrollably. We were witnessing a real nervous breakdown and it was awful. I sat down and hugged her. I kept saying “beseder”, it’s ok. But she kept crying. And then we heard the loudest of booms. And then another. Even though we were below ground in a concrete bunker you could feel the compression of the explosions several thousand feet in the air where Iron Dome did it’s holy duty. That’s how powerful are the payloads of thes larger missiles.

Other people told the young women, “see, it’s over now. Its ok”. But she was shaking uncontrollably by that time and was crying in such emotional pain that I cringed. I let others take over and console her as we had to leave. We may have left her, but that young woman’s wailing will never leave m‎e.

Then in the car we asked ourselves what it’s like further south where the sirens give but a 15 second warning, as opposed to our luxurious minute. 15 seconds to hear the sirens, react, and find a shelter. And people–children– have lived like that on and off for 16 years ever since Israel left Gaza.

Of course these rockets came 5 hours after a cease fire. What does an agreement mean to terrorists? Not much apparently. Why in the heck would the world stop Israel from finishing these very bad people off? What is it about Hamas that gets world leaders nervous? 200k people have died in Syria. 2500 a week last alone in Iraq. But to deal a death blow to Hamas is uncivilized or a worse, a war crime? I don’t get it. ”

About the Author
Neil was born in New York City and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. After a brief stint volunteering with Sar El (Volunteers for Israel) during the 2nd Lebanon War, he decided to make Aliyah and draft to the IDF.