Throughout my day in Sderot I was terrified that a tzeva adom was about to go off. I expected the siren to be creep up on me while I walking down the street or in a cafe. It wasn’t until around 3:00PM that I heard a rocket being exploded in the distance. It was not a tzeva adom, but it was a reality check to what people in Sderot experience every day. Pini had taken me to the Black Arrow Memorial outside of Sderot and as I was walking around the memorial site reading about Operation Black Arrow I heard a loud boom. Pini turned to me and pointed in the distance. He asked, “did you hear that? That’s a rocket being intercepted by the Iron Dome.” It was a surreal experience, for I could see Gaza in the distance from where I was standing and was looking out towards Gaza when I heard the boom.
I felt as if Hamas militants saw me looking at them and then fired right at me, like I was their target. I also felt a sense of pride, for Israel and its service men and women were protecting me. I stood at the head of the memorial and did not move for a couple of seconds. I did not feel scared or frightened, but I was angry. Angry that I could not visit and remember the men and women who gave their lives in Operation Black Arrow without being reminded that Israel is still being attacked from Gaza. I realized that although Operation Black Arrow happened in 1955, there is still an immediate threat from terrorists in 2014.
The only time Pini and I heard the tzeva adom yesterday was as we were leaving the cemetery after the yahrzeit service for Afik Zahavi. We were in the car and in the distance we could hear the siren going off. We got out of the car and crouched behind passenger door for about 20 seconds. About 100 meters away was a small home and a farm. I could see a young women running into a shelter holding a small child and then a young man following behind. I couldn’t help but to think about this family’s story. I don’t even know if they are a family, but I assumed that they were. I imagined that the mother was in the kitchen with the child making dinner and that the husband was upstairs reading a book. I imagined how quickly the mother grabbed her baby and ran towards shelter while the husband sprinted down the steps to meet them outside. In those 20 seconds, their lives could have been changed forever if a rocket came anywhere close to them. In another 20 seconds, however, all three of them calmly walked out of the shelter and back into the house. The wife returned to cooking dinner and the husband returned to reading his book. Their everyday life continues until a tzeva adom goes off again and in those seconds they are preparing for the worst.
Driving back to Jerusalem with the radio on, we could hear that the South was being bombarded with rocket attacks. I sat in the car and thought if only I was there for another hour, I could have been in the bathroom or eating dinner and would have had to drop everything and run for shelter. I also thought about Afik and how while leaving his yahrzeit service a tzeva adom went off. Afik was killed ten years ago by the same rockets that were being fired yesterday at the cemetery he is buried in. It shows that there is a long way to go to achieve any kind of peace, for after ten years the situation has not improved.