Arriving in Israel on Friday, December 26th, I knew that things were quickly escalating with Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization, in Gaza. Saturday morning, things began to intensify as Israel finally responded to the constant barrage of rockets that has continued since the temporary ceasefire with the Palestinians had ended the prior weekend. Despite the temporary truce that Israel had established with them, the rockets had never completely ceased during the past eight years. Hamas took the expiration of the temporary cease fire as an opportunity to attack Israeli civilians across the south of Israel. Israel responded to the Hamas assault, by air strikes, attempting to destroy Hamas’ infrastructure.
The phone began ringing Sunday morning at 2 am letting my financé and me know that reserve units were being called up and instructed to report to the South, in the event that ground troops were needed, in addition to the air assaults by the Israeli Air Force. On Sunday, December 28th, we began to travel down south, to Be'ersheva, from the north of Israel. Everywhere you looked on the road, tanks on trucks were heading toward Gaza. Police lined the streets around the Arab villages to prevent them from throwing rocks at cars as we proceeded down south.
Monday was business as usual in Be'ersheva, although rockets continued to rain over the residents of the South. Watching the television, I couldn’t even image the experience of the Israelis in places like Sderot, Ashkelon, and Ashdod. Before going to bed Monday night, I asked my fiancé what would happen if a rocket reached Be'ersheva. He told me it wasn’t possible. I said that I didn’t care what was possible, what would happen if one did. He assured me that Be'ersheva was 40 Kilometers away from Gaza, and that if one did fall in Be'ersheva it would be in the suburbs, but that we were in the city. After applying a bit more pressure, I was told that if a missile did reach us, a siren would sound, letting us know that we had roughly one minute to get into the shelter or a “safe space,” before the impact. I went to bed that night reassured that rockets had never reached Be'ersheva, and this would be no exception.
Tuesday, I found myself sitting in a café in Be'ersheva in the afternoon, when I learned that a rocket had reached the Bedouin area of Rahat. My phone rang-a call from an Israeli friend, who lived up north asking if I was okay. I thought, what a bizarre question, of course I am fine. That night, getting ready to go out, the sirens began wailing at 9 pm. Horrified and shocked, we began to quickly run for the stairs. Staying in a students’ building at Ben Gurion University, students quickly filled the stairs and began to hustle down to the shelter. We heard three “booms.” After that, students hurried back into their apartments, turning on the news, to see where the rockets had landed-Ramot, a suburb of Be'ersheva, approximately 7 minutes from where we were staying. We decided to stay in that night, glued to the television. Suddenly, we weren’t out of range. Going to bed that night, I carefully made sure that my shoes were right next to my bed in case the sirens would go off in the middle of the night.Continue Reading...