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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Life Under Fire is No Way to Live

Life Under Fire is No Way to Live
Ashdod, Israel - March 2012
by Sara L. Shomron

The beautiful and bustling coastal city of Ashdod had all but come to a screeching halt recently. Stores and outdoor cafes in the commercial center that remained open mid-afternoon had nary a customer. Ashdod’s central bus station usually filled with foot traffic and noise was eerily skeletal and quiet.

Midday Ashdod. Traffic was barely noticeable. Few people were on the streets enjoying the lovely weather. One of my students pointed out that he was, for the very first time, able to immediately find parking and arrive at class on time – even a tad early. Certainly a silver lining to the security situation.

What is it like to live under fire? How are people coping? Ever aware that post traumatic stress can be minimized if people exposed to traumatic experiences and events immediately express themselves, I asked my adult students to share their thoughts.

Picture yourself residing in a high-rise apartment; fourth floor; no elevator; the bomb shelter is in the basement. You’re elderly or perhaps have young ones underfoot or are a physically challenged person. You might be in the shower or bath when suddenly you hear the blaring siren alerting you of the incoming rocket projectile(s). You have only 45 seconds in which to seek cover. You must have the presence of mind to decide where to seek cover. The stairwell? An interior room? Or perhaps you’ll race down the flights of stairs to join those ahead of you calling you in a state of panic, to hurry – as one of my students did. He quickly took several stairs at a time challenging himself to take more stairs each time he rushed downstairs to the protected area. In the process of accomplishing five stairs at a time his new iPod, an item he described as a personal appendage, flew from his hand shattering the screen. A war casualty not to make light of it. He mused that he needs a fireman pole.

And what of those with young children? Parent and child(ren) alike are afraid to go out to the park, ride a bike, or roller blade.A student with toddlers said her four year old son wants to know the meaning of the siren. An age appropriate explanation was given and now he’s terrified to go outside. How many others? Another student rhetorically asked how she, with two youngsters, could adequately protect her children and herself outdoors. While yet another student with older children said her children were angry with her because she ran to the balcony to watch the people running for shelter and see the plume of smoke from the Iron Dome in action. She related how a girl was in the street running for cover with a young boy in hand when the boy fell. An oncoming car saw the child in the road and squealed to an abrupt stop as a group of men rushing out from the pre-fab synagogue quickly picked up the child and carried him to a nearby shelter.

And public transportation? “Open the bus doors- I must get off the bus – I have a baby to bring into this world” a pregnant student shouted at the bus driver whose doors weren’t responding. She was the only passenger on the bus when the siren blared – and she was shaking with fright. The bus had pulled to the side of the road – but the doors wouldn’t open. Finally the doors opened and the student ran for cover in a nearby building. Whenever outdoors, her eyes scan the area in search of a protected area were it to be suddenly needed.

And while driving? One student related that he was on the Tel Aviv southbound highway when a car suddenly pulled over to the side of the road. He opened his window and like others behind him, pulled over to the shoulder. It turned out there wasn’t a siren; the driver in the front car had merely pulled over. Other students weren’t clear how to proceed on the road saying traffic continued and it was impossible to pull over to the shoulder though one student shared how she chose to step on the gas and drive through a red light.

Lastly, students told of hospitality offered them by family and friends living in other parts of the country. While they were most appreciative they were unanimous that their life must continue as normal – or as normal as possible given the circumstances. They have their work, their friends, their lives to live and wouldn’t consider leaving Ashdod.

Their conclusion: life under fire is no way to live.


Batya said...

Sara Laya, thanks so much for posting!

pesach said...

Hi As you know when we left Gush Katif we descended into a hell of our own making. I remember going around Ashkelon and Ashdod with vegies from Gush Katif to try and explain the fact that leaving Gush Katif will only lead us into deeper water where we pay the price. Waht you wrote so well about is the price that citizens of Israel are paying for a corrupt government, and IDF that is dictated to by political generals. What chance does our citizenary have to combat such insanity. May Hashem guide us back to the road of sanity and keep up the good work pesach

Unknown said...

Now Ashqelon & Ashdod are the NEW "pioneers," NOT by ideology, but by default! In retrospect, what was the SMALLEST ACTION that would have halted the Gush Qatif Expulsion that has led to this new situation? One thing seems sure, when we see ourselves as ONE, then it is so much harder to act against each other & so much easier to act in favour of one another.

abigail said...

A very personal view of a very horrible situation that should not have been allowed to begin and should not have been allowed to continue and escalate. We need better leadership and we need it now. In the meantime, may Hashem guard all those in the line of fire.

Anonymous said...

There is so little to respond to this - first we can say "we told you so" but no one would listen, and too many people still don't want to listen.

We need to say that we should never allow anything like the Expulsion to happen again.

And - we need to be resolute and firm - and the military responses should not include sending troops in - we do not need to put our troops at risk - the Air Force can do a wonderful job all on its own.

Netivotgirl said...

This is Netivotgirl. That was a strong piece Sara- kol ha'kavod. Our genius at the regional council declared studies as usual. We had a siren at 8.30 (rocket landed in Moshav Givolim) and most pupils were collected over the morning by parents. Those left are traumatised. This is NO way to live! This has GOT to stop! And to recall that before the expulsion when I told people that we in Netivot would be next if chalila there will be an expulsion, they looked at me as if I were crazy!!!

sarahbeitel said...

Sara Laya,
A great tshuva for the Gush Katif expulsion, would be to bomb the kishkas out of the terrorist bases, and not stop until they have no more capacity to even pick up a rock. And drop all intentions of creating another terrorist state in Yehudah and Shomron. We've already seen how land given to PLO, goes to Hamas and winds up in the paws of Iran.
May HaShem watch over you and your family Sarah Laya, and all our dear sisters and brothers and protect you from all harm. The IDF should attack and stop this madness. With G-d's help we will succeed.
blessings for shalom,
Shabbat Shalom,
Sarah Feld

Hilltop Savta said...

Ever Again!
Once again the Nation of Israel is being targeted while even its own 'Erev Rav' goverment does little to actually defend them or to get rid of the problem.

Chaya said...

Our Holy Land of Eretz Yisroel has a Jewish government throw out Yidden from their homes in order to make "peace" with terrorists, and the US has a Socialist Marxist president who hates the Constitution. The world is upside down. WE WANT MOSHIACH NOW!!

Hadassa said...

They called us crazy, and names a lot worse than that, and thought that once we were "out of the way", peace would reign, the IDF would be out of work and the Expulsion would soon be a dim memory. Unfortunately all of the predictions of the right-wing have come true. Thousands more residents of the south - and actually quite close to the center - of Israel are in danger, a greater danger, than had been in Gush Katif and the IDF is far from out of work.
Does anyone else who's read "Grains of Sand: The Fall of Neve Dekalim" think it's time for Shifra Shomron to write a sequel and tell us what the Yefets and their neighbors are thinking in Nitzan?

Sara Layah said...

Thank you, dear readers, for your kind and supportive words.

Pesach - much appreciation for all your efforts to help increase awareness about the importance of Gush Katif. It seems that even rockets aren't able to awaken the collective from a deep stupor.

Netivotgirl - stay safe and strong!

Hadassa - I, too, hope for a sequel to "Grains Of Sand The Fall of Neve Dekalim"

When Shifra Shomron wrote her debut novel "Grains Of Sand" she had no idea what the Yefets would face in Nitzan. What would living in a caravilla be like? How long would it take to build houses for the expellees? Would any of the predictions voiced in "Grains Of Sand" come true? Sadly, one of the predictions most feared, missiles on the south of Israel, has come true in full force.

Check out Shifra's website: