Schrader: Running for Shelter — On the Ground in Israel

 

As I predicted in my first article, the attacks have not cooled down in Israel or Gaza at all. Yesterday, we saw an unprecedented rocket attack against Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, along with numerous rockets being fired into other Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv.

Today, we saw continued rockets into southern Israeli cities like Sderot, Ashdod and Ashkelon, among others, and two more rockets fired at Tel Aviv. This brings the total rocket count to more 737 in this conflict alone.

While Hamas has insisted on firing rockets under 100 meters from playgrounds and mosques, Israel has continued targeted bombings of weapons stashes and bombed the Hamas headquarters overnight, trying to avoid a large number of civilian casualties.

In order to protect densely populated cities like Tel Aviv, Israel’s fifth iron dome battery was deployed two months ahead of schedule today — and it’s a good thing too. Sometime this afternoon while I was sitting in my room trying to write a paper for school (but really reading about incoming rocket attacks) the sirens in Tel Aviv went off.

My first thought? I don’t remember just clicking on a YouTube video of rockets, did I? My second: Oh my God that’s coming from outside! I immediately grabbed my keys and phone and ran out the door to the concrete stairwell where most of my neighbors were already standing.

“Is this real?!” I said to my neighbor.

“Yep, just stand right here and wait,” he said.

I don’t have a bomb shelter in my apartment, so we were told by the government to go to the stairwells that are often built similarly. I waited with shaky hands for the sirens to stop going off, and we all waited for the boom — whether it be a hit or the iron dome striking down the Iranian made Fajr-5 missile. I don’t think my heart has ever beat so quickly.

The whole time I was standing there I was trying to send live updates to my Twitter but found it challenging because of my shaking hands. After about two minutes, we heard a loud  BOOM! We all agreed that that was indeed the sound of the iron dome, saving lives. A few minutes later, I received a video message from my friend in Northern Tel Aviv of the rocket flying over Tel Aviv. I uploaded it to the Internet. After our 10 minutes was up, I began to get calls and texts from friends back home and here asking if I was okay. I walked around the block to cool down, everything was back to normal on the streets of Tel Aviv, just another rocket attack.

The rest of the day was uneventful in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but the south continued, and continues as I write this, to be pounded by Hamas rockets. Egyptian and Tunisian officials have both visited Gaza to “show solidarity” with Hamas, and the Arab League held a meeting and concluded that Israel ought to be tried for war crimes by the international community — now that’s chutzpah! There was some talk late tonight of a ceasefire but Israel denies that this is the case. Although ground troops have still not entered Gaza, I suspect that they will very soon given they have drafted 75,000 soldiers.

The Israeli Army has stated that they believe they’ve taken out about 90 percent of the Fajr-5 Iranian missiles, the only rockets with the capability to reach Tel Aviv, but they have also told us that Hamas is hiding weapons behind human shields, hospitals, highly populated areas, etc. Because of this, the army refuses to bomb these sites. Although no one wants the conflict to continue, I’m not sure how Israel can effectively protect their population without sending in ground troops at this point. Hopefully I’m wrong.

Hamas’ response to the idea of ground troops is threatening to send “suicide units” (didn’t know there was such a thing) into Israel to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians in cafes, buses, clubs and more.

It is unfair that those of us who live here should be held hostage to the violence of terrible organizations who use and abuse human life like Hamas. I want peace, Israel wants peace, but I don’t see how that can happen at this point without a strong military action by Israel.

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