February 10th, 2018. This day marks the first time that I experienced an air-raid siren go off in Israel.
So what is an air-raid siren?
These are sirens that are used to inform civilians that rocket attacks are incoming. The moment you hear one, you need make sure to go to somewhere safe (e.g., a bomb shelter).
For those who have lived in Israel their whole lives or have been here for a while, I would not be surprised that this is their “normal”. But for someone, like myself, who comes from a country that is not under any stress of an imminent attack or the possibility of war, this was very new to me.
So what happened?
Well, I was about to leave somewhere with a few individuals and we had gotten in the car and had drove to the gate that would lead us to the road. Next thing we know, as the gate is beginning to open and as we are about to make our way home, the air-raid sirens begin to fill the air. Loudly. (Note: for those who are unaware of what it sounds like, check out this Youtube video)
Well, let’s just say that my heart dropped to my stomach. I had only ever been told about the siren and had heard it once because of a drill – but this most definitely was not a drill. If it had been, we would have been informed.
So we rushed back to where we had been and made our way, with a bunch of other people, into a bomb shelter and were told to wait there until further notice.
I would say that we were in the bomb shelter for perhaps a little under an hour before a call came through saying that it was safe to go about our daily lives.
I really don’t know how to describe the way I felt – it was strange. This was such an utterly new experience for me and something that made me nervous (and throughout the day, I kept feeling like I was hearing the sirens and would have little freak-out, high-peak anxiety moments). However, it made me realize that this is a normal reality for those living in countries such as Israel. I wonder if over the next two years here I will get accustomed to the sound of these sirens? Or perhaps I will get anxious every time I hear them. Only time will tell, I guess.
What I do know is that I am forever grateful for having been raised in a country that was so peaceful. A country where I did not hear any fighter jets. One where I never even had to think about the notion that an air-raid siren might go off.
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So what was the cause of the sirens?
Yesterday, Israel had intercepted an Iranian drone which was launched from Syria into Israeli territory.
Israel military responded to this infiltration with a strike in Syria, and as an act of retaliation, an Israeli F-16 was shot down this morning.
Following this strike on the jet, it appears (as per news reports) that Israel responded with a “large-scale strike” in Syria.
To read the article about it, follow this link.
I honestly hope that this does not escalate into anything more than it is now. Even now, there must have been many casualties because of the strikes – and it makes me sick to my stomach thinking how many innocent lives have been lost.
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Here’s to a world that will hopefully one day be at peace. Here’s to a day when all of humankind will be in harmony. Here’s to hoping that everyone will realize that we really are all brothers and sisters of one family and that we should all be treated with respect, kindness, and love. Here’s to the day when children do not have to fear losing their parents in a war and a day when parents don’t have to fear never seeing their children again.
Let’s strive to make the world a better place… please?