|The Iron Dome|
I thought it would be a quiet day... Up until now we have only had alarms go off once per every 24 hour period so I had reason to hope that if anything did happen it would only happen once. I was wrong... The first alarm sounded while I was in the middle of my Ulpan lesson. I could only hear a whisper of the alarm but the students flying out of the classrooms to the stairways confirmed my suspicion that an alarm had indeed sounded. The explosion the rockets made as they were taken down by the Iron Dome system was much easier to hear. 10 minutes we waited outside until we were sure it was safe to reenter the classroom. Normally my classroom is on the top floor of the building, but since the conflict began with Gaza we have been moved to the second level in case a rocket strikes the building. The next half of an hour or so were dedicated to everyone calling or receiving calls from their loved ones. The rule that cell phones have to be off during class has indefinitely been lifted while tensions run high in Israel. The most important thing is to be in touch with those we love to make sure they are ok, and that can't be suspended during class time.
Thankfully the rest of the morning went on without any disturbances, however, this was my first time being outside of either my home or Stephane's home during an alarm, so the experience was quite new for me. It is amazing being surrounded by so many others and knowing that you fear is not without reason, or that you are not overdramatizing the severity of the situation. I made it home with no problems that day, set off to do my homework, and then was invited to spend the night Stephane's apartment. It is hard for me not to be with him at night, especially during a time like this, because if God forbid something was to happen I would not want to be with anyone else (except my sister Ida). Because Tel Aviv had already had it's daily alarm I was not nervous about traveling to his place, which is about 25 minutes away from my own, and requires some walking through non sheltered areas. But, like I previously stated, there has not been a day since the fighting started that Hamas has sent missiles into Tel Aviv more than once in a 24 hour period.
Around 6pm I readied myself and headed out to catch the Monit Sherut (shared taxi) that would take me within 2 blocks of Stephane's apartment. As I was walking to get to the sherut I called my father because I figured it would be a perfect time to catch him up on everything that was going on here. I remember talking about the missiles, talking about the situation with Gaza and the greater Arab world, talking about how people think I should come home (to which he gave his full support and understanding of my decision and really my inability to leave Israel), and by the time I realized what was going on, it was time for me to exit the sherut and walk about 2 blocks the rest of the way. I said goodbye to my dad, jumped out of the taxi, and was on my way.
The rest happened so fast I almost didn't even realize what was going on. I was about a block down from where I exited the cab, in the middle of a crosswalk, when the sirens sounded. I was frozen I couldn't believe what was going on. Cars stopped, people exited their vehicles, some pulling their children out, and ducked down on the floor beside their cars. I was next to a girl about my age and we had no idea what to do so we laid down on the ground with our hands over our heads (like that would actually help at all). The next thing I know I see people pointing at the sky and I look up to see two rockets heading straight for Tel Aviv. The almost looked like planes with orange lights; just two little dots up in the sky. The first rocket was Hamas's, and the second was launched from Israel's Iron Dome interception system. I saw them both in the air, I saw the Iron Dome rocket approach the one launched by Hamas, and then I saw them explode in mid air upon collision. It looked like fireworks, but the sound of the explosion that rocked the city a few seconds after was nothing short of terrifying. I could almost feel the ground shake it was so loud.
Only a few seconds after I received a call from Stephane who was extremely worried because I was outside. I could tell he felt really bad. After assuring him I was ok, while running to try to get near some shelter or cover, I calmed down enough to call Ida and then get in touch with my dad to let him know what happened. I felt like I was in a movie it was so surreal. Seeing everything happen right in front of my face. Seeing all of this an knowing that there are still so many people out there who think we are baseless aggressors who are shamefully attacking the innocent people of Gaza... I will end this post with a plea to anyone and everyone who reads what I write:
I know what you read and hear and see on the Western Media outlets. It pains me because so much of it is blatantly untrue. I implore you all to please check facts before immediately believing what you see. The Hamas organization knows what its doing, and has always been good with PR. It places rocket launching sites, and weapon storage spaces, in residential areas (in homes, schools, even Mosques), so that when Israel targets these sites that are responsible for reeking havoc on our country, they maximize civilian casualties. They use their citizens as shields and do so willingly to look the part of the victimized martyrs. Yes innocent people die and I have nothing but compassion and sympathy for those who are killed because of the tactics of Hamas. Anyone who knows me knows I am the farthest thing you can get from being anti-Palestinian. But this operation started because of unrelenting bombardment of Southern Israel with hundreds of rockets, and if you think your countries would do anything different you are living in a dream world and NEED to wake up. You might ask how is it that the death tole in Gaza is reaching 100, while in Israel only 3 have died? To that I have one thing to say. Israel, above anything else, values the lives of its citizens, and does anything in her power to protect them. We are battling $500 dollar rockets from Gaza with $100,000 dollar rockets to knock them down, spending millions on safety and security because you can't put a price on people's lives. In Gaza they are putting rocket launching sites in homes and schools so that when Israel attacks said sites civilians die while they do nothing to protect their own. I bet you did't know that Israel broadcasts, sends text messages, and drops pamphlets in Gaza to announce when and where they will attack so that people can clear those areas... BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT! Hamas has also started reproducing pictures of deaths that happen in Syria and advertising that they are the deaths of Gazans and the hands of the Israelis. Please, for the love of all that is good, check what you see before believing it. There is more to this story than you are getting and it is vital you know the facts.
Pray for peace because we are going to need both your prayers and support.
Until we meet again,