Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Taste of Life Under Rockets

      Amazingly, except for when the air raid sirens sound, life here in the Tel Aviv area has been going along fairly much as usual. [Note that in places where there are more sirens than here this is not so. It is hard to live a normal life when you need to drop everything several times a day to go run for your life...]   

Some Basic info:
Very old buildings have no shelter whatsoever, and the residents of these buildings need to run outside to a public shelter. If this is not feasible, they would go to the stairwell of the building. Newer buildings have, by law, a reinforced “safe roof” in each apartment. For parents of young children or those with elderly  parents, this makes getting to shelter (like at 3AM) much easier. My married son who lives in Beit Shemesh has such a “safe room”, and he has chosen to put his kids to sleep there…..which makes middle-of-the-night- sirens much easier.

 Our building, which is “middle-aged”, comes from the period when the law called for constructing an underground bomb shelter for the use of all the building’s residents.  Since we live on the third floor, I am grateful that we (living in the Tel Aviv area) have a full 90 seconds (and not 15 like in some places) to reach the shelter.   The time it takes, from reacting to the siren, and running down four flights of stairs, can easily reach a good minute. [However, my husband, who has Parkinson’s, cannot make it all the way down in ninety seconds, and he has to be content with reaching the middle floor stairwell, which would protect from shrapnel and pieces of rockets falling,  but not from a  direct hit on the building.]
*  *  *  *  *
      [By the way, the main reason for the “lop sided” death statistics shown to the world is because we in Israel have consistently spent money to build shelters in nearly every building, using our resources to protect ourselves. That, plus the fact that we do NOT use our women and children as “protective human shields” for our armaments. It is not because Hamas hasn’t been trying to kill us.] 

 But even here there are some interesting side effects to living under the shadow of missile attacks:
1)  It is nine PM. It has been a long hot sweaty day, and coming back from a brisk walk, I am drenched. I definitely need a shower.  HOWEVER, what if an air raid siren will sound when I am in the shower? I can hardly go dashing down the stairs to the shelter,  in front of my male orthodox neighbors, in my birthday suit.   In the end I decide that since the statistical chances of a bomb hitting exactly my building is zilch, I can settle this once with reaching the middle of the stairwell. So I proceed, but being as careful as possible to be ready at any moment to participate in the Olympic who-can-get-presentably-covered-in 15-seconds competition.
2) I have temporarily given up all my scenic walking to Hertzalia and such. Not only are there no shelters in these open areas, but since it IS an open area (and the iron dome anti-rocket missiles cost a fortune), the area will not be covered by the anti-missile system. Yes, I miss the nature areas, but it simply isn’t worth taking the extra (even if minuscule) risk.  But even in city areas, I am not able to just “go walking”. As I walk I keep an eye open for what type of buildings are around me, and plan my walks accordingly. I will choose a regular street with houses over the playground, and a newer neighborhood over an old decrepit one. I simply try to ensure that I am, at any given moment,  within a 90-second dash distance to the nearest shelter.  
3)   Even with all of number 2 above, walks in the city can be “entertaining”. IF there is an air raid siren in my area, I hear the siren, seek shelter, and prepare myself for the load “boom” that we will hear when (hopefully) the rocket is shot down by the iron dome system. [Actually, there would be just as loud of a boom if the iron dome missed, but so far, thank G-d, I have yet to hear any real falling of a rocket….] 
   However, we receive sirens only when OUR part of Tel Aviv is targeted, but not if the missile is headed to another part of the metropolis. So I can be walking along, trying to have a nice evening walk, when a “BBOOOOOOOMM” assaults my ears, and perhaps I even feel the shock wave from the explosion. Did you ever on a sunny summer day hear very unexpectedly, a huge roll of thunder?  It’s a bit unnerving, like that, but add to that the feeling that someone is really trying to kill you.   And that the falling pieces just might kill some poor soul who could not reach shelter.

4)  Income for many people has gone down, as people stay home more. Even I have had several cancellations, as students stayed home with their kids rather than leave them on their own.

Finally a joke…. People who laugh as Hamas threatens a big barrage of rockets at XXX hour. The joke is:
    Hamas is threatening to send rockets tonight at 8:15 and 10:00. They will broadcast an televised replay at 3 AM for whoever misses it…….

   I would like to add that I DID look at some of the photos from Gaza today. I do NOT want ignore their plight completely.  I do not want to become a non-thinking, prejudiced, type of person.    Yet I must rank my safety, and that of my children, and grandchildren, first……
      (I will just mention that part of the lack of electricity in Gaza is due to rockets HAMAS sent which hit the power lines from Israel to Gaza.) [Also, it is sad about the four kids killed in Gaza today, but  NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin said that Hamas calls the Israel’s warnings to evacuate certain areas psychological propaganda and that they urge civilians not to leave ……… so they should be honest enough to admit that they are largely to blame for this.(Because they told people not to evacuate, and also because they locate army supplies in a city center.)


Tzivia in AliyahLand said...

Thank you for sharing this. We were just talking on Shabbos about what to do if there's a siren while in the shower. Where we are, bh, there haven't been any so far.
Someone else, a rebbitzen, told me, "ein tzniut b'milchama" and that she herself had run to shelters uncovered in various ways during past crises. This comforted me, but I still try to sleep with my tichel nearby. :-)
- Stopping by from Adventures in AliyahLand via the weekly Haveil Havalim.

Rickismom said...

I sleep in a robe (not PJ) that I would be willing to be seen in. The biggest problem is showers (Although here in the gush dan area we do have a lovely 90 seconds. )

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. It is good to get a perspective from someone that lives in the area.