(Sderot is a small city in Israel very close to the Gaza Strip. I was there during a relatively quiet time, yet there really is no quiet time. Rockets from Gaza frequently land near or in the streets, and the air raid warnings are a daily feature for the people there. I met Y and his family when I was there.
We are Orthodox Jews. We try to live according to the Torah. My favorite things are to study English, math and the Torah.
My father came to Israel from India in l967. The Jews of India are one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
We live in Sderot, very close to the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians send bombs over to us all the time. Every day, almost. The bombs land on the street, in the fields, everywhere.
When a rocket is coming, we get a 15 second warning. That means we have 15 seconds to get to a safe place before the rocket hits us.
You don't want to be in the shower when a rocket is coming! A rocket hit a house once when someone was in the shower. Nobody would want that Problem is, you never know when they are coming. Could be the morning. Could be the afternoon. Could be the middle of the night. You never know.
It's not a siren that we hear. It's a woman's voice coming over the loudspeakers all over town. She says, "Seva-a-dome!" That means Code Red. That means Take Cover. "Seva-a-dome, seva-a-dome." I can hear it in my sleep even when it is not happening. I can hear it in my thoughts. And noises make me jump, like a door slams or a car makes noise, I think it could be a bomb or a gun.
When I'm not quite asleep and not quite awake, and if I dream that I hear her voice, I'll jump up out of bed and it takes me a moment to think, did I hear the voice or not?
There are lots of bombs. Qassem rockets, they are called. The Palestinians make them in Gaza and they shoot them over here to kill us. It is especially scary when I'm walking along the street. When I'm more than 15 seconds from a bomb shelter, I start to worry that a rocket may come and I won't get out of the way in time. Eleven people in this town have been killed by these rockets.
There are bomb shelters all over the town. The bus shelters are also bomb shelters, so if the warning comes while you are waiting for a bus you will be safe. The school yards have bomb shelters instead of playgrounds. The parks for small children have bomb shelters that look like animals - one looks like a big worm, painted with lots of colors. All the homes have bomb shelters.
The government paid for them and did the work. We live on the second floor, so our bomb shelter is on our floor. They cut a hole in the back of our building and put the bomb shelter there, so that it looks like a regular room but the walls and ceiling are very thick. Everyone has one. Every home.
When the warning comes, we go into the shelter and wait for the rockets to come. Sometimes we stay there for a few minutes, sometimes longer, until the danger has passed. While we wait, we pray. My father brings in a book of Psalms and we read them and pray.
And we sing Hallellulia - lots of singing and praising. That's what we are taught to do, as Jews. Even in difficult times, we give thanks.
The Palestinians bomb us to make us afraid. They want us to stop our lives.
It helps to pray when you are afraid. Being afraid makes me feel small, than things can hurt me. Praying makes me feel safer.
During the war in Gaza two months ago (late in 2012) so many rockets were falling! So many times we heard the warnings.
Israel now has the Iron Dome. It shoots down rockets that Gaza shoots at us, but only some of the rockets. If it things the rockets will land in a field, it does not shoot. So some of the rockets still hit the ground. The Palestinians send rockets to us and don't care where they land, if they land on a school or a playground or an old-age home, they don't care. When Israel sends bombs to Gaza, it is only to kill terrorists.
We can see the Gaza Strip from the edge of town. When the war was going on, people from Sderot took chairs out to one of the hills that looks out over Gaza and watched our army destroy the rockets. There were a lot of television cameras, too, from all over.
Dad used to into Gaza all the time. We all did. We would go to see the dentist in Gaza City and shop and do many things over there. We were good to the people of Gaza and they were good to us. But then they got stupid because if they did not shoot at us we would not need to shoot at them.
I thought about the kids in Gaza during the war. I know how scared I get, and I think they were probably feeling the same way. But I don't think about them often because there is no point. How could I be friends with kids who want to kill us? The only thing we have in common is that in a big war, we would all die.