Waiting for the whistle… in the South of Israel


Yesterday I went to visit Sderot and Kfar Aza with a group of Bet Shemesh residents.

The night before I had received a phone call asking “are you sure you still want to go, they said it is a war zone”.

Humans deal with stress in different ways – the physiological “fight” or” flight” reaction.  My immediate reaction was the “fight,” not the “flight.”

“Of course,” I said, “davka now.  Now is when they need our support.”

We arrived in Kfar Aza and spoke to a woman called Adva Klein  (whose eyes were suffering from gunpowder released from a rocket that had exploded near her that morning).  She was explaining how in Kfar Aza they had shelters built for them, but they are not in the right place and they need to bring in a very expensive crane to move them(but do not have the money).

While I was thinking about that crazy concept,  I heard a whistle. I thought to myself “it can’t really be a rocket, can it?” But then I saw her reaction.  She dived to the floor shouting and signaling for us to do the same. Two explosions later that incident was over.

While laying there on the floor surrounded by friends, all adults, all I could think about were mothers like me trying to protect their children.

This thought followed me the whole day.

Any child in that region under the age of twelve does not know what it is like not to live in fear of an imminent rocket attack. We were told how children there are more jumpy.  If a pen drops or a door slams, they react.

People seem to be getting on with their lives; I have no idea how they live like this.  Anyone I met said, “We are okay, don’t worry,” but they really appreciated us coming to show that we care. They feel abandoned, and I do not blame them.

I am one of those people who stays very calm throughout crisis –  kids with bloody wounds needing stitches at hospital- things like that. It is afterwards, when all has been taken care of that the true emotions emerge.

This is what I felt yesterday. I was totally calm during the “tzeva adom” and did not really worry about the rockets.  I was more interested in speaking to the people about their lives and finding out how we can help them.

That evening , all I could think about were parents getting their children ready for bed. I felt so fortunate that when I told my 5 year old a bedtime story, I knew he would go to sleep  calm and happy and wake up refreshed in the morning. What about those poor children going to sleep in sheltered rooms, or having to be close enough to get to one in the middle of the night?

My teenage children go out and meet their friends without any worries. In Sderot, how can you possibly let your children meet friends at night?  The answer is – you can’t!

 Until I had experienced a “tzeva adom” I did not get it.

15 seconds to find shelter is nothing.

This situation is impossible.

I am no politician and life in these parts is very complicated but it has got to be the citizens’ right to be protected by its leaders.  I would hope so.

So what can we do? What must we do? – something!

Going down to visit people and show them that you care is really important. Everyone we met said that. We must make sure they know that they matter. We must pressure the government to change these peoples’ reality. We cannot just sit by and watch this situation continue.

I met wonderful people. True Zionists who are deeply attached to their homes and adamant that they will never leave because this is the place they are meant to be. They just want to live in peace and security.

I was truly inspired by their convictions, their humility and in awe of how they have lived this way for 12 years.

So tonight, when you put your kids to bed, pray for those kids in Sderot, whose bedtime story may turn into a nightmare.



About the Author
Alisa Coleman has a Speech Sciences (Hon) degree from University College London .Alisa became a leading activist to combat extremism in Bet Shemesh .