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War journal, entry 1

Posted by on July 28, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

We’ve just had a siren. Six short syllables that contain so much! The 30 second frantic dash to the security room, the panicked glance to make sure every family member is there, the tense listening for the boom, and the uncontrollable rush for news. Having described the symptoms, I ought to give the untenable situation a Latin name. One could say: I’ve just had an admonitio sirenis, or there’s recently been an outbreak of et annuntiabis sirenarum, and we’d all nod our heads knowingly, say we understand, tell you how brave you are and ask you if you perhaps you’d like some chocolate or an alcoholic drink. And then we’d settle down to chat comfortably about similar cases and narrow escapes we’ve had or, depending on your state of nerves, delicately change the topic.

An amusing chat would be Things I’ve Seen in my Security Room. Throughout the weeks of sirens, at the most tiresome hours, various barriers have broken down in my family. Nothing will ever be quite the same after seeing one another rushing through the security room door at 2:00 a.m. in ludicrous pajamas, or with shampoo suds still in one’s hair and wearing a toga-like towel. Since we’re all incredibly mature, we know that life comes before dignity and try not to make too big a deal of how anyone looks at these unfortunate times. Who am I kidding? We have a hearty laugh and tease each-other mercilessly. We’ve stopped short of taking pictures and spreading them on social media, though that might actually help Israel’s case in the world press. But then again, why humiliate ourselves for the anti-Semites?

Sadly, our dogs don’t always make it to the security room in time. They’re the first to hear the siren, but often their response is simply to stand still and howl. We call their names and urge them to rush with us to the protected room, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking if, after closing the heavy door, we discover that one of the dogs isn’t with us. Throughout the next 10 min. that dog will bark, whine at us and scratch the door from the other side. Much as we’d love to, we harden our hearts and keep the door closed. 10 horrible guilt ridden minutes. When the time is up and we open up, the dog comes to greet us, wagging its tail, nosing and licking us. Such a very happy reunion.

While in the security room this evening, my brother read the tragic news that a mortar killed several people in the Eshkol region. Israel doesn’t, and never did, have any defense against mortars. To protect its civilians from mortars, Israel will have to ensure that no mortars are fired from Gaza. Will it do this? Considering the years Gush Katif suffered from mortars, as have all communities in mortar range, I’m not holding my breath.

 

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