A friend of mine is now living in Israel and kindly agreed to write the following guest blog:
I’ve been living in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod for nearly a year after meeting and falling in love with a beautiful and charming Israeli woman. In this time period there have been approximately a dozen rocket attacks on our city and hundreds more on cities, towns and villages in the surrounding region, including Ashkelon, Beersheba and the unfortunate Sderot. The rockets originate in the Gaza Strip, just over 20 miles away from Ashdod and are being fired by Islamic terrorists intent on killing as many Jews as possible and eventually taking Israel for their own Islamic state.
Let’s briefly study the anatomy of a rocket attack on a major Israeli city. When terrorists fire a rocket, a satellite system picks up the trajectory of the missile and instantly calculates where it is likely to fall. The system then activates a city-wide siren in the location where the deadly warhead is heading. The siren sounds and people rush to either a communal shelter, a safety room within their home or any other place which might offer protection from an explosion and related shrapnel. In Ashdod, we have 45 seconds to get to this safe place. In neighbouring Ashkelon, it is even less.
The rocket alert siren sounds for around 40 seconds. The sound is very similar to the World War 2 siren you hear in old black and white war films. It is omnipresent and comes at you from multiple directions. It’s also very loud and there’s no chance you’ll mistake it for a car alarm. Strangely enough, whilst the siren is sounding, you know you are relatively safe. The danger comes when it stops. That’s when the rockets fall. In nearly all cases that I have experienced, the explosions occurred within 15 seconds of silence descending on the city. It’s a haunting silence for you know everyone is doing the same as you and that is listening for the thuds of falling rockets. Two weeks ago we heard 4 explosions hit the city, one after the other and each louder than the next. Elsewhere on that day, an Israeli civilian who was a father of 4, was killed by shrapnel.
For years, before and during my time in Israel, I’ve heard people in the West referring to the rocket attacks as mere fireworks that do little damage other than a bit of smoke and cracks in the road. I knew this to be untrue, even prior to hearing and seeing the damage they do first-hand. Every day I pass a building still gutted from when a rocket scored a direct hit a few years ago. On Youtube you can see video clips of a 6-storey block of flats half demolished from just one rocket. The only reason why more people are not killed is because of the safety measures the government here has taken in the form of rocket shelters, drills, sirens, surveillance drones and frequent information on what to do in the event of an attack.
The rocket attacks are brutally hard on parents and their children. I’ve been with families when the siren sounded and witnessed the fear in the eyes of burly fathers who would not otherwise flinch from tackling a burglar in the middle of the night. They carry their little crying daughters in their arms and rush to their safety room, knowing full well that a direct hit on their home could mean death. I’ve also seen a mother vomit with fear after rushing her kids into a shelter. They have every reason to be terrified for their children’s safety. In 2004, a toddler and baby were killed when a rocket exploded inside their home in Sderot.
When you don’t have children, the sense of danger and fear is less but not altogether absent. Most rocket attacks have taken place during the night hours when we are asleep. The shock of being awoken by loud Banshee wailing and instinctively racing towards the front door (our shelter is next door) is quite a blow to one’s nerves, especially when you know there is a serious and genuine threat to life careering through the night skies towards you. Yet people here have adapted to these intrusions and within minutes you see people resuming their normal activities, even when there is every chance of another siren sounding any second.
I’m a proud Englishman with a great fondness for the State of Israel. This bond was formed prior to meeting my Israeli girlfriend and came about through sympathy and support for their existential cause. The Jewish people’s brave fight against the theo-political ideology of Islam which has Jew hatred written in their scriptures is one that all decent Europeans and Americans should back Israel in. For years I wished I could do something more for Israel instead of writing essays on why it deserves to exist in peace, from a safe and comfortable desk in England. Finally I got that chance. On most days I feel like any Englishman would, living in, or visiting, the Near East or Mediterranean and that is, a foreigner, which of course is natural. However, on those days when the skies rain rockets and the sirens sound, I feel, if all but briefly, very much an Israeli.
Guest post by Edward Beaman-Hodgkiss
I've also included 2 links to relevant Youtube videos which will help readers gain insight into events here in Israel. Click on links below to view.
1. Block of flats half demolished (as mentioned in the post)
2. Rocket siren at night in Ashdod 2 weeks ago.