Wednesday, November 21, 2012

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Life Blogging in Israel during War – Day 8

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Day 1 -- Day 2 -- Day 3 -- Day 4 (Shabbos) -- Day 5 (Work Week)Days 6 & 7

Life Blogging – Blogging about my family life events during Gaza Conflict XXXIV in Israel.  This is not a live blog of war events (though some are mixed in), it’s a blog of my life in Israel with jets buzzing by and missiles incoming.

It’s just a regular work day, sunny but chilly with a chance of missiles.  My daughter manages to miss her bus to school again, still avoiding school due to scary missile drills.  I’ve got a business presentation with some individuals from a government ministry, then a meeting with a vendor’s top tech representative.

My wife heads out the door early, she’s involved in an elderly care program today.  How do you get 30 elderly, some with walkers, canes or wheelchairs, to a bomb shelter in 90 seconds?

Traffic to Jerusalem is very light again, some people are clearly staying home with their children.

In the midst of my morning business presentation I get a ping from an older daughter, “Tatti (Daddy), there’s a SIREN (missile alert) at HOME right NOW!”  I’M IN A CONFERENCE ROOM AT WORK AND THE GAZA ARABS ARE TRYING TO KILL MY CHILDREN!

I excuse myself from the presentation and try to call my wife.  I can’t get through, but this isn’t unusual as her work location has poor cell reception.  My daughter’s on the other side of town, she tells me she heard a BOOM. 

I mention what’s going on to a co-worker, “there’s an alert at my house, I’ve got children at home!” He comes over and claps me on the back, “now you’re a real Israeli (???), go call and check on them like everyone else.”

After a few calls I get through to my children at home, they didn’t know there was an alert – they had the windows closed and a video playing loud.  Further, the sirens didn’t go off on our side of town.  It’s unclear if this was a failure or intentional, as the missile strike was outside of town next to a nearby moshav (village), in a field.

I return to my presentation, I tell them there was an alert at home.  They nod their heads with a  “been there done that” expression.

I’m scared, and ANGRY.  I alert my other children, in school in Jerusalem.  They’re shaken also.  One wants to know if I can give a ride over to the soldier’s funeral, which is taking place at Har HaMenuchos cemetery (the main modern Jerusalem cemetery).  I can’t, work calls in the midst of a world gone insane.

An hour later and I see Tel Aviv alerts going up on Twitter (I’m on Twitter here.)  More info coming up, bus bombing, probable suicide bombing (it wasn’t), injuries, no deaths mentioned.  Then it starts to get crazy, they’re locking down various major areas (nearby mall, business buildings, stock market, diamond market) and seem to be chasing possible terrorists around town.  Now it’s my co-worker’s chance to freak out, he’s got a sister working in the building by the bus, other family members around the nearby area.  He talks to his sister, she’s afraid to go home by public transport.  He says he’s starting to wear his gun as of tomorrow – I’ll be glad to have him doing so.

Vendor meeting is delayed an hour, one of the vendor’s representatives was near the bombing in Tel Aviv – he’s caught in the area lock down.  I’ve never had a meeting delayed due to terror lockdown before.

I see a report of a stabbing in Jerusalem, I ping my children in school in Jerusalem.  One calls me back quickly, he’s out of school now ON THE STREET IN JERUSALEM and wants to understand exactly what and where.  I can’t get any real information and tell him to be careful, and worry.

Later in the day my co-worker tells me a story…

Gulfwar_1991_in_Israeli_shelter“I was 14 during the first Gulf War, living with my family in South Tel Aviv.  South Tel Aviv is an older poorer area, most of the buildings don’t have protected defensive rooms.  The newer ones have small bomb shelters in the basement, the older ones rely on a neighborhood shelter.  Nicer areas may turn such shelters into a community center or synagogue, adding air conditioning and so forth.  Ours were just kept locked up to keep the kids out.

It was the Gulf War, Israel was under Scud Missile thread from Iraq.  We were ordered to the bomb shelter and ordered to protect ourselves from gas, meaning put on our gas masks.  (The shelters of that age did not have air tight seals as the new ones do.)

My father was not there, he’d been called up to emergency army reserve duty.  My mother, sisters and I sat huddled, in the dirty cold bomb shelter.  But we where sweating.  We were absolutely convinced we’d soon be dying, together with our neighbors, of poison gas from Iraq.  We knew, the pundits were telling us on the radio, the impact of a chemical attack (which was being threatened by Iraq).  We were going to be gassed like our elderly neighbor’s family had been in the Holocaust.

I had sweat dripping down my face for hours but was too terrified to break the seal on the gas mask to wipe it or scratch an itch.

That’s being afraid in war.  I will never forget it.”

They’re chasing the terrorist(s) around the country!!!  Everyone in the office is freaking out, they’re closing major roads with police checkpoints to get the bad guy before he gets away to an Arab area.  Route 443 from Jerusalem to Modi’in is shut down, then Highway 1 is.  Everyone’s worried about getting home (except for those who live in Jerusalem), looking at literally hours and hours of traffic.  And of course nobody wants to be in the middle of a firefight between police and terrorists.

I’m starting to get terror whiplash.   It feels like everything is spiraling out of control (perhaps because it is?)  I’m basically trapped in my office, I’ve got a child on the streets of Jerusalem with terror attacks in progress, children at home alone with missile attacks in progress.  Oh, and my boss wants that document completed – hey, it’s a workday after all!

r1Suddenly they’re talking about a ceasefire.  We then get reports that the terrorist was caught (or got away?), the road blocks have been removed.

I drive home listening to all the talk about a cease fire.  BUT THE ISRAELIS ARE ANGRY.  Nobody understands, why a cease fire, why now?

Traffic is light, I keep the radio on in case of missile alerts.

The cease fire goes into affect.  It’s all been a bad dream.

MISSILE ALERT – Be’er Sheva

MISSILE ALERT – Ashdod

MISSILE ALERT – Kiryat Mordechai

MISSILE ALERT – Ashdod

MISSILE ALERT – S’Derot

MISSILE ALERT – Be’er Sheva

Cease fire?????????

…One reader wrote me about a common blog topic, but then wrote another note “sorry, I know you’re at war right now”.  Well, yes, but only now and then.  The rest of the day is quite normal.  Kind of.  Or not.

…Several worried family members sent me notes from the States.  I want to write them that everything’s basically normal – and technically we’ve got about 10,000 times more chance of being in a car accident or being a victim of violent crime in the U.S. than being hurt by a missile in Israel, but this is TERROR and it is emotionally wearing.

…One person sent on Facebook “don’t be afraid”, quoting the pasuk that I’ve quoted from the end of davening.  Thanks, that helped (not).  Oh, I’ve got my emunah that Hashem is doing everything for the best and (G-d willing) bringing us to the moment of Geulah.  But that’s not the response in the heat of the moment, nor should it be.  That nervousness is the drive to take actions that may make a difference at that time.  For those watching from afar, just a bit of concern, compassion or empathy is appropriate.

…Moshiach.  Geulah.  We’ve been writing on those topics for 8 years.  Signs?  Events aligning?  A LIKELY STRONG YES.  More time to think it through is necessary, but it’s very VERY likely we’re getting to the point where hitting the key pointers is going to be OBVIOUS (to any who are looking).

I’m drained.  Over and out.  From where will my help come? …

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