July 11, 2014


Life in Israel is surreal now.

Hundreds of rockets are being blasted from Gaza into Israel daily. Reaching as far north as Haifa,  these rockets are threatening a huge percentage of the Israeli population. Israel’s largest, most densely populated cities, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, are under threat. But not under siege. 

Everyone outside the country sees newscasts. So what’s it like over here for the average Israeli living in the central part of Israel?

Here is a glimpse at my life over the last three days. Let me know if you think these rocket blasts are stopping Israelis in their tracks?

Tuesday - Day 1 of  Operation Protective Edge (Tzuk Eitan) Ra'anana

After a relaxing day in Tsfat, we pack the car for the drive back to Ra’anana where we are staying in a friend’s apartment. Sitting in the car, I am reading the news and hear of rockets falling in Ashdod and Sderot. My son calls me from Rishon L’Tzion to tell me there have been rockets fired near his army base. Hmm, that's right outside Tel Aviv.

I then get a phone call from my friend’s  daughter.

“Hi. Hope you know where the bomb shelter in my mom’s apartment building is.”

“No. Why?” I am puzzled. I live in Ra’anana and have only ever used my own bomb shelter to store wine.

“Didn’t you hear the siren?”

I end the call in disbelief. As we park the car an hour later, we hear two loud explosions overhead. It is the Iron Dome intercepting two rockets on their way to Hadera perhaps? Wherever they were headed, they were close.

I check out the bomb shelter. It is in the basement, three floors below the apartment. I go onto the Home Front website and learn that I have 90 seconds to get to a shelter when I hear the siren. I decide to sleep in my clothes. Just in case I have to run.

Wednesday - Day 2

We wake up tired and have an appointment scheduled in Jerusalem. This city has also been targeted. Should we go? Of course. We do not give it a second thought.

The roads are filled with commuters en route to work. Jerusalem is brimming with tourists and is as vibrant as ever. We go to our appointments. Nothing is cancelled. It is business as usual. 

We stop on Emek Refaim for lunch at Cafit and have a pasta dish with a cold beer, then stop for chocolate ice cream at Aldo’s. We stroll along the street with our ice creams. Music is playing in the cafes, people are shopping in the markets and children are biking and playing in the parks.

Around 7 pm, we hear a boom. We are on Derech Hebron. People stop for a second then get on with their lives.  We hit the highway back to Ra’anana.

Thursday -  Day  
Tel Aviv

10:30 am, North Tel Aviv
We have an appointment in north Tel Aviv. Sitting in our meeting in an office tower, the secretary runs in and says “Tzeva Adom.” Red Alert? We did not hear a siren but follow her out of the office into the bomb shelter down the corridor and continue our meeting there. The secretary remarks that it is nice to finally chat with the workers in the other offices. 
Mingling in the office bomb shelter....
a bit like chatting around the cooler?

"We usually never get to see each other," she says. 

We are meeting with someone who lives in Meitar. He has a Whats App group on his phone that beeps with new messages of road closures, rockets that land nearby and threats of Bedouin uprisings.

“We are surrounded by Bedouins,” he says calmly as he glances at his phone, then continues with the work at hand.

We hear there is an Iron Dome positioned nearby this office tower in an orchard and are told that with so many hi tech high rise buildings in this area, this is a prime target. No one around here seems to acknowledge this potential threat. It is now lunch time and hungry office workers must dine on sushi and salad outdoors in the sun.

12:30 pm, R’aanana
I am sitting at the doctor with my daughter. As the doctor is talking to us, her cell phone rings.

“Sorry.” She picks up her phone.

“Motek,” she says.

When she explains that her daughter lives on a kibbutz outside of Sderot with three small children, I understand why she picked up the phone so quickly.  Her daughter, she tells us,  lives in a house that is a bomb shelter. So if they are in the kitchen or bedrooms, they need not run when they hear the siren. The children’s school is also one giant bomb shelter. This is how they have had to adapt to nine years of pummelling from Hamas. 

However the shelters do not shield the children from the deafening sounds. Our doctor thinks her daughter will soon pack the kids in the car and head to Ra’anana.

3 pm 
My husband downloads an App called Red Alert. It beeps every time a rocket is fired into Israel and tells us the location. We know many rockets have been landing but are in shock at how often the phone is beeping. 

Read about how our technically savvy population has become aware of the rockets falling.

9 pm
We head out for a sushi dinner. The restaurant is bustling with diners eating outside. Kids are mingling on the street and couples are out for a stroll.

Friday - Day 4

11 am, Ahuza Street, Ra’anana

It is Friday and the pre-Shabbat rush is on. People are out buying challot in the bakeries and sipping espressos in the coffee shops.  

As I am come out of the dry cleaners, I  hear a siren. It is soft but distinct. People grab their kids and rush. A man directs me to a sheltered area under an awning, but I decide this is not safe and run with a family to a stairwell. We stand there for a minute and hear a big “Boom.” 

I am standing with a couple who have a young boy and no one seems frazzled. It almost looks as if they have dashed in here to get protection from a rain storm. Surreal?

After another minute, we go outside. An old man is pointing up and shows me smoke in the sky just to the south. The Iron Dome.

People stare at the sky, grab their cell phones to make sure their loved ones are fine, then go back to sipping their coffees. My husband did not even hear the siren.  Think I will go back to the apartment and keep the windows open. Just in case.

11:30, Shufersol grocery store, Ra’anana
Standing in line, I hear the cashier complaining that her husband and seven-year-old son have slept right through the siren. She is very anxious and is on the phone every few minutes trying to call home. She seems to be the most panicked person I have seen all day. Finally her husband picks up the phone and she blasts him. In Arabic.

2:00 pm, Herzeliya Pituach
Time to hit the beach and have fun. Israelis know how to enjoy life in spite of its challenges. This video clip taken today at the beach tells the surreal story.

Israelis know how to live life to its fullest. And so far, they are not phased. Of course, everyone takes the sirens seriously but this does not stop them from enjoying a beach party. 

My husband's phone continues to beep the Red Alerts as sirens blare in different parts of the country. Constantly. There have been over 700 rockets fired into Israel so far and we must be prepared. But we will not cower. Contrary to our enemy's desire to create chaos and terror, we aspire to live as normally and fully as we can. 

Shabbat Shalom (in the most peaceful sense of the word).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are always welcome.