Judith Davis
Judith Davis

Snapshots of Israelis Under Bombardment

Almost daily, throughout the latest war with Hamas, the New York Times has published front-page photos of Palestinians suffering at the hands of Israelis or of buildings bombed by the IDF. We would never know that this war is horrible for Israelis too since there are no photos of them or of the homes that have been blasted by Hamas. According to people like John Oliver and Trevor Noah, “influencers” esteemed as pundits by youthful audiences, Israelis are more powerful and have fewer casualties than Palestinians and are therefore the bad guy oppressors. Since we are seeing almost no coverage of what the average Israeli has endured because of Hamas, I want to give a few examples.

Although I was in frequent contact with my cousin, S., in Israel, when President Biden recommended a cease-fire, I wanted to know what she was hearing from her friends and family. She reported that Hamas was still, on the tenth day, spraying deadly rockets across Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as well as the coastal cities in the south, their customary targets. Especially worrisome, that day four rockets had also been launched into Israel’s north by Hizbollah. This was a sure sign that Iranian backed Hizbollah, seeing the success of its sister proxy, Hamas, is testing the waters. They are telling Israel, “Don’t forget we are also here pointing 150,000 missiles at you.”

She asked me, “Do Americans understand what is happening here?”

As many are noting, if New Jersey were firing 4000 missiles into New York, maybe we would understand. But no, we don’t understand; I don’t pretend to understand but I will tell what I’ve been told and hope it helps. I’m reporting only first-person accounts. I don’t personally know anyone in the south where homes have been fully or partially destroyed and jagged fragments of missiles are littering backyards and playgrounds. (Unfortunately, the New York Times does not consider photos of these sites as “news fit to print” so you will have to find a sample of them in the attached Addendum.)

When the sirens go off, S. and her husband leave their bed, rush downstairs into their “safe room,“ the closet under the stairs. They evict the vacuum cleaner and mops and huddle in the closet until they hear the signal that it’s safe to emerge. Then, they return to their bedroom upstairs until the next siren later that night. Not so terrible compared to the houses destroyed in Ashkelon. However, I know if my sleep were disturbed by alarms and rockets eleven or twelve nights in a row without knowing where they would land or when/how it would all end, it would be pretty unbearable.

Indeed, for another cousin, the bombardment truly is hell. Although he lives with his wife in a beautiful new building-which means every apartment, by law, must be equipped with its own safe room-he can never feel safe. The sights and sounds of the missiles popping in the air trigger PTSD from his experiences serving in the army many years ago. He is being tormented by terrors in the present while at the same time being assaulted by the terrors of his past.

A. has just recovered from cancer surgery and needs 6 consecutive weeks of daily radiation. Since the hospital is in another city, her husband drives her there and back at 80 miles an hour. They are praying to make their trip without encountering a siren. If so, they would have to stop the car and lay on the ground “protecting” their heads with their hands. This couple has taken the husband’s 90-year old parents to stay with them. The older couple is frail, but worse, hard of hearing. Home alone, they wouldn’t know if a siren sounded or how to navigate to the public shelter. The safe room in A’s home, usually used for storage or guests, has just enough room for a double bed. In addition to the grandparents, A., her husband, and their two teenage daughters are also in the home. When the alarm sounds, everyone squeezes into the safe room and no one gets any rest.

I also checked in with my cousin N. Her husband sent me a poignant photograph. It shows my 7 months pregnant cousin, asleep with their four-year-old daughter on a mattress pushed near the door of their apartment. Because they live in a very old building, the siren means they must make their way, in 90 seconds, to the public shelter. The seconds are too precious to be wasted dashing from master bedroom to the child’s room, grabbing their little daughter, zooming a pregnant body and toddler out the door, down the stairs, into the street… So, mattress on the floor close to the door…

When Hamas began bombing, I WhatsApped all of my cousins to see how they were doing. In an effort to help me understand, three of them, living in different cities, sent me videos of the bombardment. I have to say, I was stunned by their beauty. Captured on cell phones were these lethal globes of light, hundreds of them dancing and crisscrossing one another against the black sky. Some videographer actually taped a bombardment over what appears to be the Arieli Towers in Tel Aviv, set it to the Star Wars theme and posted it to social media. Oh, someone else found this beautiful, I thought to myself guiltily. But the video ends on a dysphonic and jarring musical note with the reminder, “It’s Not a Movie. It’s Life in Israel.”

I forgot to mention that none of these people in any of these places are military targets. They are all innocent civilians.

Addendum: Sample of Homes Destroyed, Buildings Bombed in Israel

Ashkelon Resident, 88, Unbowed by Rocket That Destroyed His Home
hamodia.com/2021/05/24/ashkelon-resident-88…
On May 12, a Palestinian rocket struck the Ashkelon home of 88-year-old Uri Kimhi, reducing his living room to rubble. A neighbor who rushed in, yelling “You okay, Uri?” and fearing the worst …

Israeli woman vows to rebuild home after it is destroyed by …
www.jpost.com/israel-news/israeli-woman-vows-to…
Israeli woman vows to rebuild home after it is destroyed by Gaza rocket Sigal Ariely’s house in Ashkelon in southern Israel lies in ruins after a Hamas rocket scored a direct hit mere hours …

2 women killed by rockets in Ashkelon amid massive barrages …
www.timesofisrael.com/2-killed-by-rockets-in…
A heavily damaged house from rocket fire in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on May 11, 2021 (JACK GUEZ / AFP) A building in Ashkelon where a woman was killed by a rocket fired from Gaza,

May…
‘You never get used to it’: Ashkelon shaken by first rocket …
www.timesofisrael.com/you-never-get-used-to-it…
A heavily damaged house, hit by rockets from Gaza, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on May 11, 2021, (JACK GUEZ / AFP) On Tuesday morning, residents of the city, home to around 150,000…
Two Israelis dead, over 90 injured after Gaza rockets strike …

www.jpost.com/israel-news/four-people-injured…
Two women were killed and more than 90 people were injured on Tuesday after rockets, fired from the Gaza Strip, slammed into a number of homes in Ashkelon and Ashdod. Four of the injured were …

Sarah Coates – Inside a home in Ashkelon which was destroyed …
www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZaZJA6kwuw
Rocket was sent over from the Gaza Strip into Israel during the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas- hitting a home in Israel’s South. Over the course o…

Volunteers help elderly couple renovate burned down house
www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4470972,00.html
Firefighters from the Ashkelon fire department, residents and repairmen that lent a hand, and the Ashkelon mayor Itamar Shimoni all came to the mezuzah instillation ceremony held in the couple’s home.

About the Author
Dr. Judith Davis is a wife, mother, grandmother and a retired clinical and organizational psychologist, graduate of Hadassah Leadership Academy. Having spent a lifetime studying individuals, groups and other human systems, she is an irreverent observer of details that may be unremarkable to others.
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