Life Under the MissileCloud

Tags: Living Israel, Terror, Israel Under Fire

By Sarah Malka Eisen Kyd

A Glimpse into Our Mind as the Missiles Keep Falling on Us

Those of us who live in the center of the Israel have got only the mildest taste of what our brothers and sisters on the Gaza border have endured for more than a decade.

The tens of thousands of rockets shot at Israel by Hamas have created a unique culture in some parts of southern Israel. Deciding on today’s wardrobe or when to shower takes on a different hue when every minute of every day for years is laced with the tension of when the next siren will go off and did your family members get to the shelter in time.

This Morning Under the Stairwell

For the most part, Hamas likes shooting during the day. But they seem to prefer Prime Time for PR purposes so a lot happens between 8 and 11/12 with all of Israel in front of the TV. They clearly don’t like shooting in the wee hours. Like clockwork they were back at work this morning as sirens went off shortly after 6 AM. These morning attacks seem to generate much more cursing of Hamas by people jarred out of sleep and running through the streets in pajamas. It’s not an ordinary sight.

But for some reason there was not enough time this morning to get to the shelters in time. The timing works something like this: If you are sleeping you lose at least 5-8 seconds until the sirens register. Then you grab glasses etc and maybe a robe and shoes/slippers (although it’s easier to run barefoot and shoes take time). You make sure that all family members are up and running – literally.

Sarah Malka Eisen Kyd in communal bomb shelter, Moshav Matityahu

That takes another 10 seconds minimally. Then you head down the stairs and out the back door to the closest shelter which takes let’s say another 15 seconds. All in all this should be enough time, but not today. Missiles were blown up in the skies above just as people got to the shelter. They were using new missiles so maybe the time framework was different – I don’t know. Some of the people in my house were not going to make it in time so I stayed in the house under the stairwell with them. Its reinforced and there are no windows. A good second choice.

To truly give us an understand of life in the missile cloud, below are a few short thoughts on “life” as lived in the southern city of Sderot. It is authored by a 22 year old Sderot blogger who calls his blog: “Man in Fort: Life in the Most Fortified City in the World, Sderot." (The text below has been condensed and mildly edited for content and length)

1. Dressing for Impact

Despite the temperatures in Sderot (35-40 Celsius) you do not wear shorts or sandals even to take out the garbage. You often have less than 5 seconds from the time of the siren to the impact of the missiles.

So when you run to the shelter you don’t want to trip or twist your ankle -- and sometimes you don’t have time so you lay on the ground and cover your head with your hands. But shreds from the rocket or pieces of glass, stone and other objects can hit you in the your back, legs and hands.

Personally I prefer wearing jeans because of the strong fabric -- and boots because it keeps the legs safer and its harder to twist an ankle when you run because it gives some support. (Jeans are actually more psychological than practical to be honest.)

2. The Death of Privacy 

The values of community and helping each other are strong in my city… So many houses keep their doors open from early morning to late night hours. Some even keep them open 24/7. No one really wants to be the person that got someone killed because that person didn’t have access to shelter when the rockets start to fall… So even in the late night hours people think about what to wear.

3. The Shower as Deathtrap

[So] maybe you want to take a soothing bath … because Hamas arranged a private flight for the grim reaper to pay our city a visit. …Most bathrooms are not made to endure under the hits of rockets… In many bathrooms there are mirrors, glass and other items and you have got yourself a nice death trap…. This is a terrifying moment in which many Israeli need to decide what they prefer – hygiene or their life.

4. Which child do you choose?

Years under the threat of being killed by rockets fries your brain you suffer from PTSD and maybe agoraphobia variations. Every time you step out of the door … you start thinking stuff "where is the closest shelter"? "Where won’t I be alone in case of trouble"?

Ben Tovim family in safe room - Photo by Chanit Ganish Gabbai

Even moral questions start to pop up. Let’s say you are in a car with your two small kids. And the siren goes off and you have only few seconds to choose which one are you going to get out of the car for safety. How can you choose? … And let’s say it’s not your kids, just you see few kids alone on the street how can you handle helping them all to get into safety?....

Also, besides thinking on what to do (and many times people have had to deal with these situations) you have to deal with your body.

Feeling like your heart is going to explode because its racing and you feel every pound like a punch in the chest, feeling the fear like this is your last day or how they are going to tell your family you are dead or how could you deal with life if you lose both your legs...

Yeah that’s pretty much my high school memories of going to and back from school.

Hoping all is quiet and well with all of you -- wherever you may be…

Note: As I wrote this, the following red alerts sounded: Ashkelon (18:41); Ashkelon (18:35); Be’er Sheva (18:24); Be’er Sheva (18:20); Eshkol (18:16); Sderot and Shaar Hanegev (18:09); Netivot and Sdot Hanegev (18:06); Ashkelon (18:05); Netivot and Sdot Hanegev (17:55) Ashdod and Ashkelon (17:54); Ashkelon (17:37)

Click HERE to read the original, very powerful and detailed blogpost.

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Tags: Living Israel, Terror, Israel Under Fire