The conflict over the Gaza region has endured over decades and the people of Israel residing in the area have endured the life-changing consequences. These citizens have been uprooted, seen their livelihoods disappear, their security stripped, and had trauma and fear become a norm of everyday life. They are everyday people, like you and me, trying to put food on the table, make a living, and raise a family, dreaming of greater opportunities for themselves or their children, only to be held captive by the sirens, the rockets, the fears; consequences of the constant attack on their everyday lives from the Gaza border. For this they have persevered this past decade with great sacrifice and will continue to see its prolonged effects in the generations raised with this as their norm.
This is the fear and stress that the everyday people of parts of Israel live with, day in and day out.
Because it is located close to the Gaza border, the city of Sderot has endured thousands of Hamas and Jihad rockets over the past ten years. The people there live in a constant state of fear. A 2007 survey revealed that three fourths of the city is suffering from trauma. The city’s residents are psychologically distressed and emotionally damaged. The city is left with the poorest remaining while the ones who could afford to have left. There is no work and they feel abandoned by their government, feeling that more could be done to protect them.
People there live with their own safety as the number one concern. They live by the sound of the siren, the dash to shelter. Hearing the siren warning of an approaching rocket is paramount and so residents of Sderot plan their activities accordingly. Car rides are stressful if existent at all because one fears being able to get all their passengers unbuckled and out of the car and then to locate a bomb shelter in time. Showers are short and listening to music with earphones (yes, we’re talking iPods and the like) are impossibilities because above all else one had better hear the shriek of the siren!
This is the fear and stress, the doing without that the everyday people in Sderot live with, day in and day out.
Children as well in cities along the Gaza border have lived the terror of rocket attack nearly every day for ten years. They are afraid to do the most normal of things like go to school or sleep in their own rooms. They are psychologically affected by the persistent bombing, the never ending sirens blaring. They can’t go outside to play and are frightened by the sounds of a horn or a whistle. A large percent of preteens wet their beds.
For them it’s the siren. They only have 15 seconds to drop whatever they are doing and reach a bomb shelter. One student called themselves “code red” children. Children bolt for safety, hoping to make it in time over and over again. Mothers race to gather little ones out of highchairs, car seats, bath tubs, trying to make it to a bomb shelter in 15 seconds every time. Imagine the fear, the stress, and the anxiety of this desperate task done over and over for nearly ten years.
At a high school, the warnings go off again and students cram into the nearest bomb shelter. From there they listen to the bombs explode one by one and then to their frantic parents as their phones ring and they reassure their mother or father of their safety. These students know that life could be very different and can’t believe they are living like this.
This is the fear and stress, the “stay with you forever” consequences that the everyday children live with,
day in and day out.
Attacks occur other than from rockets, ones that heed no warnings signs or sirens blasting, nor opportunity to run for shelter in 15 seconds. These occur with little media attention and so no one really knows how many such attacks the Israeli people have suffered over the past decade. These attacks on the civilians, the everyday people near Gaza, are part of their everyday existence. They live within both rocket and gunfire range and are targeted with little or no protection. Unless there is a casualty, there is usually no or little news coverage.
For example, in June, an Israeli farmer, while working his tractor on his farmland was attacked by open fire in the Negev region in southern Israel. Coming from the Hamas-ruled Gaza strip, a Palestinian terrorist blasted away while the farmer took cover. Finally rescued by Israeli soldiers, the farmer escaped injury.
A nineteen year-old female soldier, while riding Jerusalem’s new light rail transit system, was attacked by a Palestinian Arab. She was stabbed multiple times and left in serious condition. The attack took place as the rail passed through the Arab Beit Hanina neighborhood. There is no protection on the railway system. It is risky and vulnerable, yet a necessary means of travel for many.
Another stabbing took place in Jerusalem in early November when a Jewish man was attacked by two Arabs as he and a friend were walking from Jerusalem’s Old City to Ras al-Amoud. As a result, a group of Israeli Jews protested the failure of police protection for travelers such as these men in predominately Arab areas. Arabs then shot fireworks and had an altercation with the police. Tensions between the Jewish and Arab populations have been escalating recently.
This is the fear and stress, the vulnerability that the everyday people risk, day in and day out.
The stories are countless of victims of the ongoing conflict and the long-term consequences will be something else to be reckoned with both now and in the future for generations to come. Psychological scars are planted in little ones and teens, parents and the elderly. Fear and trauma are part of Israel’s everyday people, people like you and me.
As this raining of rockets now has met its end of tolerance in Israel, with the attacks now reaching farther in distance into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and tensions growing, the population experiencing these threats grow. The everyday people of Israel under the threat of attack are on alert, ready for the sirens, for the dash, for their day in and day out to be altered.
They are all everyday people, enduring the conflict.
Song For Israel is partnering with Operation Lifeshield to build a bomb shelter in Israel. To donate to this ministry, please click here.