Caught in Conflict: An American in Israel

Hovering high over north Tel Aviv, fading puffs of smoke from an intercepted rocket from Gaza

The past four days Tel Aviv has been targeted with rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. They travel 40 miles up the Mediterranean coast of Israel before reaching the city. It’s a routine. The missiles are fired between the busy commuting hours of 8 and 9 am to cause maximum disruption to Israeli society. The early warning sirens go off with a modulating wail, giving people one a minute and a half to find cover in a stairwell or one of the city’s hundreds of bomb shelters, which the government ordered opened a few days ago. As the rocket approaches the city, an interceptor missile is fired at the rocket from Israel’s Iron Dome system to detonate it in mid-air.

The first day everyone in my dormitory at Tel Aviv University ran to the shelter and stayed there for the recommended 10 minutes. When we heard the two booms—first the Israeli Iron Dome interceptor missile and then the Gaza rocket—we looked at each other uneasily. The second day everybody walked to the shelter, waited for the booms, and left. The third day I just didn’t manage to get myself out of bed so early. The fourth day I was already awake but in the shower when the siren went off, so I simply closed myself in a windowless bathroom, my heart racing a little, and awaited the expected thud. Instead a series of loud booms shook the building. I looked out my kitchen window minutes later and took the above picture. High over Tel Aviv two wisps of smoke linger, presumably from an interceptor rocket.

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