TEL AVIV, Israel—As I write these lines, an alarm sounds in Tel Aviv. I leave the computer running, grab my keys and cellphone, and run down two flights of stairs to the safest place in our building.
After about a minute, we hear the boom. Life returns to normal.
Long-time citizens of Tel Aviv remember the Gulf War of 1990–1991. Everybody was sitting in either a shelter or a sealed room because Saddam Hussein was threatening to send missiles containing nerve gas.
Compared to those days, what is happening in Tel Aviv now is not as scary. There is no threat of nerve gas, and people just need to go to a shelter when the alarm sounds.
The few missiles that have fallen on Tel Aviv in the last few days have caused little damage, and people are generally not too worried. Life in the big city—nicknamed by its former Mayor Shlomo Lahat the “city without pause”—is continuing as usual.
Almost everyone goes to work. Most children go to school. The cafes and big malls are full of people enjoying life as if nothing is bothering them.
Of course there are some worries.
Yedida Kaplan, my 86-year-old neighbor, is not very happy. “I am worried what will be in the future and worried about my grandchildren. What will happen to them when they will recruit to the army as a reserve force? I am also worried and feel sorry for the people in the south of Israel who have to suffer missile attacks everyday. But I am not worried for myself,” Kaplan said.
Since the attack on Tel Aviv, the Israel Defense Facebook page is full of patriotic slogans and photos, some disparaging Palestinians.
Israeli people have a macabre sense of humor. One person jokes on Facebook about his suffering—having to see his neighbor running half naked to a shelter without time to grab a shirt on the way.
The older people have a bit of anxiety because they are not sure they will run fast enough to the shelter. Some young couples did not send their children to kindergarten Friday because the school has no shelter.
A friend of mine went to sleep with her shoes on to be prepared if the alarm sounds.
Zofiha Ben Aharon, 52, said, “From Thursday I cannot sleep well. I canceled all my plans, did not go to the gym, and canceled visiting friends. When I drove to Jaffa [southern part of Tel Aviv] on Thursday, there was an alarm, and all the cars stopped in the middle of the street. … We waited in angst until we heard the ‘boom’ that means that a missile has fallen somewhere. … I went to Jerusalem the next day—it is safer there, and now I feel better.”
Merav Amram, 31, is a mother of three children, ages 5, 7, and 10. “On Thursday evening the alarm went on while I was washing my 7-year-old girl,” Amram said. “I pulled her from the bath with a towel and ran with the other children to the staircase where met all the neighbors who were in [a] panic,” she recalled.
“Luckily Cipat Barsel [The Iron Dome Israeli air defense system] destroyed the missiles. Of course, to go back to life after this is very difficult. The children wake up every hour saying that they think they hear the alarm. It is the first time my 5-year-old wet his bed,” Amram said. “My sister says her children are in [a] panic. When she asked them what will make them feel better, they said, ‘to wake up in the morning and see that I am alive.’”
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