Israelis across the country, from Sderot in the south to Zichron Yaakov in the north and Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv in between, are once again forced to cope with Hamas rocket attacks any time of day or night.
While there is no panic in the country — and in many communities, including those which have heard the frightening up-and-down wail of the air raid sirens in recent days, it is generally calm — that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
For example, Tsippora Nalick, a nurse who works in Pardes
Hanna, was on her way home to Zichron Yaakov after finishing her shift on Wednesday, when the wail of sirens pierced the air at about 2:00 p.m.
She found herself outside on the street, she told Hamodia, with no immediate shelter. So she rushed to the outside of a pharmacy in the nearby shopping mall and sat down on the sidewalk next to the building wall, as per civil defense instructions.
She saw others doing the same. In the street, cars stopped and drivers got out and sat on the ground.
Then she heard a boom in the distance. Something landed on the outskirts of Zichron. When she knew it was over, she said that “at that point I just broke down and cried.”
She soon regained her composure, though, and walked the rest of the way home to take care of her two children. She was alone too, because her husband had been called up for military reserve duty that morning, she said, and she was worried about him. But after a long trip to a base in Dimona, he was sent home when he explained he has a family and two children. The officer in charge said he wouldn’t be needed.
But it was a momentary interruption in the normal life of the city of 18,000. Zichron Yaakov’s yeshivos and kollelim, businesses and summer camps carried on as usual.
On Wednesday, local residents were receiving a recorded phone message from Mayor Eli Abutbul notifying them that, in view of the missile that landed in nearby Hadera and the one in the Zichron area, public bomb shelters will be open for use in case of emergency until things quiet down.
In Ashdod, which has known many rocket attacks and sirens in this and recent years, residents have been going about their business. But when the sirens go off, they rush for cover.
On Tuesday night, a rocket attack on Ashdod took place in the middle of a chuppah. In video footage, one can see the night sky lit up by rockets and the sound of explosions — all too near — can be heard.
Everyone, including the chassan and kallah, left the chuppah and ran for cover. Parents carried their young children and some people were crying out in the fearful moment when no one knew what would happen next. B’chasdei Shamayim, there were no injuries in the city, and the chuppah was resumed.
In central Israel, which in past years has usually been out of range of the terrorist rockets, some were expressing shock.
“It was terrifying,” Ofir Chen, who lives in Ramat Raziel near Yerushalayim, told Walla! News.
“I was out with my dogs when, suddenly, I heard a siren. I thought it wasn’t close to me, but then I suddenly saw a bright light,” he said. “The dogs ran back into the house and tried to hide.”
“The missile fell right between my house and my son’s house,” said Tzipi, another resident of Ramat Raziel. “I was very scared. I heard an explosion like I have never heard in my life.”
Tzipi ran into a shelter, but her husband did not; he was paralyzed with shock. Both are fine, if traumatized. “This is the first time something like this happened in the area and it’s unbelievable,” she said.
“I am very afraid that the missiles will fall here,” said Essie, a resident of Pisgat Ze’ev in northern Yerushalayim. “We can’t believe that rocket fire reached Yerushalayim.”
“This is really scary, but you have to give the IDF space to do its work — there’s nothing you can do,” she added. “At first I thought that we were safe in Yerushalayim, but now I realize that no one is safe, anywhere in Israel. It’s incomprehensible.”
“What’s worse than hearing the siren? NOT hearing it! I seriously heard/felt the ‘boom,’ nearly had a heart attack…” L. Rosenbaum, an American young woman living in the Bnei Brak area, told Hamodia.
Dealing with children’s fears can be more difficult than quieting ones’ own.
“So how do you explain to a 4-year-old why we have to run down to a bomb shelter in the middle of the night without traumatizing them?” asked S. Auerbach, a mother in Ramat Eshkol, Yerushalayim.
In Hadera, which sustained a missile hit on Tuesday night, many families are spending the night in bomb shelters or protected rooms.
“Every night, now, we’re sleeping in our mamad [merchav mugan dirati — reinforced safe room],” Yaffa, a Hadera resident, said. “It’s really scary to think that a rocket fell near our house.”
Rabbi Shimson Meir Frankel, founder of Chedva Institute, trains and advises psychological counselors, and reports that, not unexpectedly, complaints of anxiety have been more frequent over the past few days.
“This is not surprising. But what’s interesting,” he says, “is that my colleagues tell me they themselves are suffering from anxiety about the security situation. They ask me how they can help others when they have the same problem.”
Rabbi Frankel said the question is a valid one. “Actually, I believe that one cannot help others if he suffers from and cannot cope with the same problem himself.”
He suggests to both colleagues and clients that this situation is really no different from other anxiety-producing situations; only the specific cause is different. And just as they managed to get through other difficult and trying times, so too, they will get through this.
In addition, he asks them how they think other people react when the sirens go off? “I tell them they have no monopoly on these feelings. It’s normal to feel fear when these frightening events are occurring. They are not alone.”