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August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
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Race to the Bomb Shelter: ‘Children Were Heavier Than I Remember’

'What kind of normal country would allow her citizens to live in such terror without doing anything about it??'
The Sderot indoor playground-bomb shelter donated in March 2009 by the Jewish National Fund.

The Sderot indoor playground-bomb shelter donated in March 2009 by the Jewish National Fund.
Photo Credit: Courtesy, JNF

As Gaza terrorists rev up the missile machine and target cities in central Israel, and Israel ramps up its response in Operation Protective Edge, some residents were forced on Monday to make the run to their bomb shelters for the first time.

In Rehovot, Michal J. had already put their small children to bed and was beginning to wind down when the Color Red incoming rocket alert siren activated at 8:20 p.m.

It’s an incredibly loud sound, a rising wail, and it can be really frightening for someone who has never heard it before.

“Michal quickly rushed all the kids out of bed and down to the shelter, baby Chaya in one arm and Shloime in the other,” her husband Eli said. “They heard some distant thuds and booms and came back upstairs safe and sound,” with the two older children initially excited by the exercise, but 2-year-old Shloime “rather shaken and clingy.”

Eli arrived home from work a few minutes later, and went to relieve a friend’s babysitter who was “ordered home by her mother. What a mess!” he wrote on his Facebook page. He later added that his own older son could not fall asleep following the experience, and both older children came to their parents in the middle of the night, saying they were scared.

“This morning Shloime kept saying, over and over, ‘When we hear the noise, we go to the Miklat (shelter) and then we’re safe,” he added.

“To think that this is our family’s trauma from just one siren, when there are kids in Sderot and the surrounding area that have grown up with this their whole lives… What kind of normal country would allow her citizens to live in such terror without doing anything about it?? Is there any precedent for such a thing in world history?”

Across the country, in a Jerusalem suburb, small children in another family slept through the entire experience, but woke briefly to express annoyance at being moved from their beds. For their parents, however, it wasn’t as simple of course.

“I was out walking with the wife and we luckily stopped to talk with a neighbor a few houses away,” related Steve L. “The siren went off and we ran for our lives. As soon as we reached our house, we grabbed each kid out of various beds – we have four, ranging in age from a year to 9 – and carried them to the bomb shelter in our home.”

Steve said that he realized his children were “heavier than I remember.” As did Eli, he hit the social media when the incident was over to post about his experience.

His children, however, were “annoyed the siren woke them and that we made them switch beds. They went back to sleep.” He added that the bomb shelter “gets very hot when the window and door are closed. I was annoyed that I didn’t grab my computer too. I felt stuck there, that I couldn’t go out. But it’s not our first missile run.”

In the Gaza Belt community of Sderot, sadly, residents have endured so many rocket attacks that a fortified playground was donated to the city, where children can play safely in what is essentially a mammoth bomb shelter.

About the Author: Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.


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