Sarah Ansbacher
Author of historical and contemporary novels
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And the ominous siren, when it comes, allows for about a minute to reach a safe space, before the rocket's impact
What it sounds like when you're living under threat of rocket attacks. The seafront, Tel Aviv, November 13, 2019. (courtesy)

A buzz, buzz, buzz of constant WhatsApp messages. Way too many for this early in the morning. What’s going on? There’s no school? Why?

The answer is provided by the harsh scrape of a metal plate as its dragged across the window by a downstairs neighbour. The heavy sound reverberates through the wall, then echoes through the apartment block as all of us join the dissonance, preparing our reinforced rooms for what might follow.

Regular melodic chimes, like the “fasten your seat belt” indicator on an aeroplane, emanate from the red alert phone app but they announce something altogether more bleak and sinister. Each one signifies an incoming attack.

There is an eerie silence on the street. An absence of sound except for the occasional car and your own swift footsteps, as you continually recalibrate your location and seek out potential sheltered spaces that you can reach in less than a minute.

A howl of wind through the crack of a window, or the revving of a motorcycle engine makes you pick up your ears. For a moment you hold your breath, mistaking it for the start of the rise and fall wail of the siren.

Because that ominous siren, when it comes, provides perhaps a minute — or maybe just seconds — to reach a safe space before the impact.

Yanked from peaceful dreams you are thrust into a new day, greeted by a series of harsh rumbles like thunder. Has a rainstorm appeared from nowhere in the cloudless, early morning sky?


It’s the impact of an explosion as the Iron Dome takes out a series rockets, not all that far from where you are.

You go down to the sea, lulled by what remains ever constant: the ebb and flow of rolling waves. A soft crash as they meet the rocks.

Even on a day like today.

About the Author
Sarah Ansbacher is the author of Wave After Wave, a historical novel based on the true story of a group of Jewish refugees who attempt to flee wartime Nazi-occupied Europe setting out on a dangerous sea journey to Eretz Israel. Her other books include the novel Ayuni and the short story collection, Passage From Aden: Stories from a Little Museum in Tel Aviv, based on her experiences working at the Aden Jewish Heritage Museum.
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