The view from my veranda

Edward Beaman Hodgkiss writes from Ashdod

tonight the people of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba cannot say “Shevua Tov” (have a good week) at the end of Shabbat. They are under a blitz of rockets from Gaza. Hamas has taken responsibility claiming the rockets are because Israel dared to seek the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks in the South whereby 7 Israelis died.
Time to stop funding terrorists America!!!

My Experiences of Living Under Rocket Attack in Israel
by Edward Beaman-Hodgkiss on Saturday, 20 August 2011 at 10:20

It’s amazing how life can change so rapidly in Israel in the space of a few short hours. The deadly gun and grenade attack on vehicles near Eilat a couple of days ago sparked a heated and ever escalating confrontation between the IDF and Islamic terrorists. This has now resulted in multiple rocket attacks on southern Israeli cities including my own, in Ashdod, where I live with my dear girlfriend.

I’ve experienced rocket attacks before, in my half year in Israel, when last April there was a rise in tensions. So these current attacks are not something new but they have taken on a more frightening feel. Last April, we barely heard the explosions when they hit and so the danger seemed far away. However, this time, the explosions hit close by. They made the ground shake and people in the shelters looked at one another in dreadful anticipation that possible deaths would soon be reported.

Running to an outside shelter is no fun, especially at night when you have to pull yourself from bed and find things to wrap yourself in. The sleep is still in your mind and all sounds and feelings become magnified, rather as if you’re in a nightmare. It takes a few seconds to fully realise what’s going on and the loud omnipresent city-wide wailing sirens send a haunting fear throughout your entire body. You know rockets have just been launched and are heading in your direction and after hearing previous explosions and seeing how a single rocket can demolish half a house, all sorts of images race through your mind.

For families with children, this is a dreadful time and from my experiences in the shared rocket shelter, the fear and horror that appear on children’s faces is not something you want to see ever again. It takes quite a long time for the children to relax again and return to normal after a siren has sounded. Mothers and grandmothers hug and console their children but the fear is clear to see, no matter how hard they try to hide it, in the eyes of adult and child alike.

Life under the threat of rocket attacks begins to take a stunted appearance. It’s difficult to do many of the things you take for granted during the long quiet periods. You know there’s going to be another rocket barrage within the next 24 hours but you don’t know when exactly. This means taking a shower, going to the bathroom and having a nap all become actions you need to think twice about before doing and have plans of action in place beforehand.

The same applies with going out into the city or to the beach. You have to be aware of where the nearest buildings are, where there’s a strong shelter and where you can lie on the ground (somewhere clean and preferably not baking hot concrete) in the event of an attack. You also worry about the people you love and how they are coping with it all, plus the family back home who hear about it all on the news.

Before I came to Israel, I had long followed the events taking place in the country, most notably in the brave town of Sderot, bordering the Gaza Strip. I was aware of every rocket attack and also of the deaths, injuries and stress these people suffered from. But you never truly realise just what they actually go through if you’ve never experienced the panic of a rocket alert siren yourself nor heard the ground shaking explosion of a rocket hitting something nearby. Then, suddenly, it all becomes clear in the most direct way. I think now I could look a Sderot resident in the eye and say “I know” and really mean it.

What the next few hours, days and weeks will bring, it’s hard to say. There’s definitely going to be another siren, that’s for sure, what with the increasing rocket barrages and hateful words from those in Gaza. However, I know Israel will remain as strong as ever and that her people will battle through this period, as they have done countless times before. I’m just so proud, grateful and lucky, as an Englishman, to be able to be with the brave people of Israel as we together face what the terrorists throw at us.

It truly amazes me how my girlfriend, her family and all Israelis have coped with these horrors all their lives and live under these threats almost like nothing is happening. It makes me appreciate their bravery, strength and resilience like never before.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Long live Israel!

Edward Beaman-Hodgkiss (Aug 2011)