Editor’s Comments: We’ve published several articles in the past explaining that freelance writing is harder than people tend to think. But, imagine trying to sit and write to meet a deadline for a client – while wondering if a missile might fall from the sky, killing you without warning!
BookLocker Author Yocheved Golani lives in southern Israel, and she experienced exactly that scenario earlier this month. We hear sterilized news stories about rockets launched into Israel from Gaza that allow us to say, “That’s horrible,” and move on to whatever we were doing – without ever pondering just how lucky we are. We are honored to be able to share this account from someone who was literally in the enemy’s cross-hairs when the rockets were descending on her homeland.
When Israelis in the southern part of the country heard noisy skies in the wee hours of November 11, adults and children felt gut-wrenching fear.
RED ALERT sirens were sounding. People in affected areas needed immediate shelter from incoming rockets and missiles! Depending on where you live in Israel when these deadly rockets take flight, intended victims have between 15 seconds and up to three minutes to reach bomb-proof shelters. It doesn’t matter if you’re sleeping, awake, hospitalized, disabled, home, at work, on the highway, or elsewhere – these instruments of mass murder are coming, like it or not.
The Israel Defense Forces issued a “minor” call-up for “members of Iron Dome missile defense units, Military Intelligence and the Home Front Command.” Social media filled with photos of highways being struck by missiles as confused morning commuters shuddered at intersections, on road shoulders, or sitting inside their cars. Galei Tzahal radio announced that 1.5 million Israelis “have been under fire.”
1.5 million people terrorized.
Hospitals placed patients in underground shelters. Israel’s HMO’s messaged their patients to confirm appointments before venturing outside, due to unpredictable schedules under active and expected fire. Our Home Front Command forbade “non-essential” workers from Gaza to Tel Aviv from traveling outdoors. Schools in those areas closed. Business owners were ordered to keep work sites shut for the time being. You see, in Israel, a rocket doesn’t even have to hit near you to affect your life in many negative ways.
Israeli media reported the reason for the barrage: on Monday November 10, Israel had assassinated senior Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata and Jihadi leader Akram Ajuri. News reports also indicated that the IDF had killed two members of the Islamic Jihad ‘rocket squad’ in Gaza, too, one while riding a rocket-launching motorcycle.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad wanted revenge for the IDF’s effort to stop their terrorist activities.
Bomb shelters re-opened across the country as people ran for cover or wondered when they would hear the RED ALERT siren in their area. The Muqata voluntary news update service sent a mid-morning message indicating an attack on a suburban shopping mall: “… Iron Dome intercept over Yishpro Center in Modiin. Gonna be a looong day.”
Several public parks closed while IDF fighter jets began circling Jerusalem in the afternoon. The Joint Operations room of the Gaza Factions later announced “The real response will begin shortly.” Mass publicity informed Israelis that counselors were available for live conversation at several mental health resource organizations.
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, demanded that the Security Council [sic] condemn the attacks upon a besieged Israel. The UN couldn’t be bothered, however – it was trying to get statements from Jihadis.
Relevant apps on cellphones or computers trilled or beeped until dusk descended. Many Israelis had memorized Pikud HaOref’s instructions on what how to respond to sirens – a.k.a. incoming fire. Watching the video, take note of how often “time at your disposal” is mentioned. Sometimes, there simply is not time at your disposal.
At 6:20 p.m. on Tuesday November 12, Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) announced that Israelis should “expect surprises” at 8:00 p.m. Try to imagine planning your day or evening of running your freelance business around the possibility that people who hate you might rain missiles down on the mall, cafe, or business you plan to go to. Several municipalities soon announced that school was cancelled for Wednesday, November 13, and that, again, nobody should report for “non-essential” work. Gazans fired several missiles simultaneously for days, trying to outsmart Israel’s Iron Dome system. Incomes plummeted in a land already experiencing tight economic times. If you cannot go to work, you cannot earn an income. If you can’t work at home, your income stops as well.
For me, I was at home preparing an informative article for a charitable organization about its efforts to help Israelis suffering economic damage at this time. While I worked, I listened to live reports of RED ALERTS and people who’d survived missile strikes while going about their benign business.
It was difficult to focus. I prayed every minute for the immediate cessation of violence and stayed alert for the siren if it sounded in my neighborhood. My emergency survival kit was at the door, ready to grab if I’d need to run for my life. That’s another fact of life in Israel – you have to have a bag packed at all times, year round, in case you have to flee your home.
I live in Beer Sheva, rather close to Gaza. By Wednesday night, Beer Shevians wondered why we hadn’t been hit in the barrage. Wary of always-broken ceasefires, we fell asleep Friday night, the Jewish Sabbath. Unfortunately, our already restless sleep was shattered at 2 a.m., with RED ALERT sirens filling the air. Adults across Beer Sheva grabbed children and disabled people, and fled for their lives.
By Saturday, more than 400 missiles had targeted Israel – fired from Gaza by people who know nothing but hatred for an entire country and culture. If you’ve never heard a RED ALERT siren, you can listen to what Israelis know all too well HERE. Turn your speakers up for the full effect. Yes, they are THAT loud.
It’s Sunday morning as I type. And we still don’t know what to expect.
Editor’s Note: Yocheved updated us that after she wrote this, four more missiles were fired OVER her part of Israel and into the Northern part of the country. All were successfully shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system. We are glad she is safe.
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Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals. Her Linkedin page can be seen here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yochevedgolaniink