Back to normal

The war seems to be over. It’s not called peace. Just a cease-fire that appears to last so far. It will start again, we all know that, we just hope as late as possible.


In the mean time, things got back to a certain normality. After a month of delay, exams will finally take place next week and students are slowly coming back to town. Restaurants and bars are reopening with normal schedules, the traffic is back, the shopping malls and the beaches are crowded again. The most surprising changes are more subtle: I don’t think of putting clothes next to my bed anymore, or look for places to hide when I am walking. Even the conversations are different; we can finally talk about other things than war and politics, work instead of watching the news and actually do things in our free time. And I can wear heels again!

However, as cliche as it might sound, some other things will never be the same again. First it’s impossible not to think about those whose son, brother, father, boyfriend, husband, friend will never get home. If we don’t know personally one of the fallen soldiers, we all know at least one person who knew one of them, and we can’t help to feel close to them and feel their pain. That’s why it was impossible not to be sad every time we were reading that a (sometimes not even) twenty something year old died. And when all those people gathered for the funerals of a lone soldier, when everybody tried to do at least a little something to help those who were in need during that time, I understood that despite all the differences and disagreements, we are really only one Family. Second, the outburst of hatred we have felt and witnessed against not only Israel but also Jews leaves a very bitter taste. To have the weird impression that in not such a distant future, Jews in Europe will be less safe than us here under the constant threat of a war, is something no one could have envisioned before.

Something else has changed, and I would have never thought it could be so intense, so fast and so strong. I can understand Israelis much better now and feel even closer to them. This war made me realize how lucky we are and how much we take for granted some very important and precious things: the health and safety of our friends and relatives, a peaceful night of sleep, a house with a roof. And suddenly many things loose their significance. I caught myself thinking one morning while I was standing in front of my wardrobe: “Who even cares about what I am wearing?”. Most of the normal Facebook activity during that time seemed completely surreal: I couldn’t comprehend how people could debate about a new app or share “the Ten Tips to be more productive at work”. During the war, while the alarms were resonating and we had to run to the shelters, we actually felt grateful to have those sirens because when the planes were taking off a few minutes later, we knew that the people in Gaza might not have a place to hide and all we could do was praying for their security.

I wish I don’t forget those lessons. But I hope we won’t have a booster shot too soon.


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:


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.


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?


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.


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