War

I wrote this article for a blog for which I am a collaborator. This version has a little more content than the original that you can find here: https://apcdaily.wordpress.com

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I am not going to try to explain the Israel-Palestine conflict, others do it very well here for example but I can describe how we live it here, in Israel.

It started for me last Friday when a missile was shot on Beer Sheva, the city where I live, during the World Cup game. We were in a bar, the game had just started and we didn’t hear the alarm. But when all of our phones started to ring continuously from our friends warning us and asking if everybody was okay, the stress level raised a bit. Rockets continued to fall on cities close to Gaza with more and more intensity, until Israel decided to launch an operation to destroy the launching sites. Since a week, the rate of missiles falling on the country has not diminished, with hundreds of rockets falling all over the country, including on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, in the north. Almost the whole country is under fire.

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The result is that regularly, the terrible sound of the Red Code alarm resound, leaving us between 15 seconds (for people really close to Gaza) to one minute to find a shelter. Most of us do not have one in our building so we just rush to the staircase and wait for the noise of the explosion to go back inside. This is if you are at home or at work. If you have the bad luck to find yourself in the street when the terrifying sound rings, you have to run to the nearest building or lay on the floor with your hands above your head. I hope I will never find myself in such a situation.

I have read some comments that it was unfair that so many Palestinians were killed when almost none Israeli were. Set aside the irony, the reason for this miracle – given the amount of missiles falling – is that we have a really good defense system that intercept the rockets in the air if it is calculated that it will fall on a populated area. Those whose trajectory finishes in an open area are not targeted because of the steep price of each interception. But that doesn’t prevent debris from falling on those who could not reach a shelter or some failure, like the one that hit a house a few kilometers from mine on Friday night.

A gas station hit by a missile in Ashdod, Friday 11/07/2014

A gas station hit by a missile in Ashdod, 11/07/2014

Nevertheless, despite all those protection measures, most people prefer to stay home and as a result, pools, restaurant and bars are kept closed. So while we would like to continue to live normally and shake the anxiety that seizes us, we are stuck at home, waiting for the next alarm that will occur without a doubt at the worst timing. Have you ever though “Mmm maybe it’s not the right time to take a shower, there hasn’t been an alarm in a while and I don’t want to have to run out of the shower with shampoo on my head.”? Or have to jump out of your bed at 4AM, put on clothes, try to open the door in the dark and make it on time to the stairs? Or leave your high heel shoes and flip flop for shoes that you can run with? And do you have to fear that your friends will be called to go to the front and feeling helpless?

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Neighbors meeting in the staircase during a Red Code alert

Can we talk about kids also for a second? Some of my friends have little babies. How do you think they must feel, having to rush to the cradle to grasp their newborn still sleeping or crying because of the awful song of the alarm? Which type of psychological damage can it produce to young kids to be waken up at 4 AM by sirens and explosions? I am not sure that this cute little song will be enough to heal them… As much as I find it terrible that kids are dying in Gaza and people are losing their sleep as we do, I don’t accept to live like that. So I hope that it will finish soon but I am glad that we have a strong army trying to protect its people. And I hope that my heart will stop jumping in my chest every time I hear a loud noise…

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Traces of interception of 3 missiles over the restaurant in which I was eating and had to hide in the kitchen

For the time being, our lives keep being interrupted regularly and all we can do is pray for peace. Hearing the alarm. Having your heart make a jump into your throat. Being paralyzed for a split of a second. Recovering your reflexes as soon as possible and going to the nearest shelter. Waiting there, smiling awkwardly to your neighbors or colleagues. Trying to small talk while hearing the explosions in the back. Waiting a bit more longer. Thinking it’s safe now. Going back to your computer refreshing frantically your news feed to see where it felt this time, if anyone got hurt. Sending a message to your group of friends asking if everyone is safe. Repeat. Again and again.

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Capture of the news this morning after the first alarm in BeerSheva