That’s how long it took me to find my phone in my purse and check where the latest siren went off. My phone app said that the current siren near my hometown of Beer Sheva was in a place where the residents have 15 seconds to find shelter before the rocket will hit. In those same 15 seconds, a parent has to find and wake a child and move them to the safe room. In those same 15 seconds, a child playing in a park needs to find shelter. In 15 seconds an elderly person has to navigate to get to their safe place. It’s an unbelievable situation which has existed, off and on, for over a decade.
This evening, I had left the center of the country where I had a business meeting and was heading home. During the meeting, my phone informed me time after time that another siren was going off somewhere in the South. Over the course of my 2 hour meeting, over 80 sirens were heard in various parts of the Negev. I just kept pushing “silent”, a prayer and a way to continue the meeting despite my mounting apprehension. Couldn’t it just stop and return the silence?
After the meeting as I expressed my worry, my friend said to me, “What did you expect? You live in Beer Sheva.” As a new resident of the Negev after having lived in the center of the country for almost 25 years, I thought, “What DID I expect? Is this part of what my expectation package was when I moved South?”
I did not expect my move to the South to be without challenges. I would have to really come out of my shell and meet new people and make new friends – not so easy at my age. I needed to find a community which would be good for me. There were many friendships which I wanted to maintain and how was that going to work without physical proximity. Besides the personal issues, there were the general issues. Beer Sheva is far – not as far as some people think – but far from much of my work and meetings in the center of the country. Far from some of my kids. Far – not in the center. It is a city in the periphery and still holds some of its issues from when it was a development town. These challenges I accepted; I chose to live with them, as the benefits to me far outweighed these difficulties. I DID expect this. Every place has its challenges and those who live there need to accept those negative attributes. Nothing and no where is perfect.
But rockets fired at homes of civilians! No, this I cannot and should not accept or expect. All citizens of Israel deserve to have a life free from terror. No child should have to sleep in a bomb shelter because of fear of rocket attacks. No farmer should have to worry that his crops will be burned by incendiary balloons. Oy, oy to us if the citizens of the center become numb to these threats as happening “over there” to those people on the “periphery” in the Negev. Oy, oy to us if we should just come to accept and expect that our lives will be under threat just because we live in the South (or the Golan Heights or in Judea and Samaria….).
Instead, I believe in the Declaration of Independence: “The State of Israel…will foster the development of the country for the benefit of ALL its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and PEACE as envisaged by the prophets of Israel”. Amen, Amen.
God willing, all of the citizens of Israel should have peaceful sleep – as it says in the Bible all the way from Dan to Beer Sheva.