I know i promised you all (whoever you are) a post on handbags since my last post on shoes was so much fun. However, there was a turn of events this weekend that turned me so far upside that there was no way I could get myself to write about fashion or anything related to it. I was also unsure if I wanted to share what happened either. And the last thing I want to do is to scare anyone back home. At the end of the day though, I started this blog not only to share the things that I love about fashion, food and culture in Israel, but my experiences here as well. So that my friends and people in America and around the world wouldn't only think of war and camels when it came to this country. The fact of the matter is, the reality in Israel is completely different from any other reality most people can even imagine. Although I grew up hearing stories about the suicide bombers and terror attacks in Israel, imagining what it is like doesn't compare to half of it. This weekend I don't have to imagine anymore. Everything became far too real for me.
It started Thursday at noon, my boyfriend Doron and I headed down south to Be'er Sheva where his family lives for a celebration of a new baby in the family. Without our knowledge, about 15 terrorists from Gaza went into Sinai, Egypt and entered Israel planning a terror attack at the same time. They aimed rockets at a bus full of people heading to Eilat (a huge vacation spot on the southern tip of the country), missed and hit a civilian car. Another group got onto a bus and opened fire. Then when another bus arrived, one of the terrorists ran up to the bus and pulled his explosive belt. Israel is quick to act when something like this happens. Another car came, and the terrorists shot them too. Two sisters and their husbands coming back from a vacation. The Israeli Defense Force arrive and kill those that are involved, then they go to the source and kill the source. So Israel retaliates, launches an airstrike in Gaza killing those responsible for the attacks. There were military helicopters flying over the house the entire evening. That night I fell asleep with nerves unsettled in my stomach. At 6:05am, I wake up to the sound of sirens. A missile was launched in Be'er Sheva.
I run downstairs, grab Doron, I'm scared but act quicker than I would have imagined. In the basement there's the bomb shelter. Every house and apartment building in Israel has a bomb shelter in it. I was the first one in, then Doron, his sister, sisters fiance, brother and then both his parents. I've never been so scared in my life. My body was shaking, I could hardly breathe, and if it weren't for Doron holding me, I would have fallen to the floor. Once everyone is in, it goes quiet. Boom. "There, that was the first Rocket" Doron's sister says. And something about that sentence triggered me. All the panic and fear that was inside me the last two minutes came pouring out and suddenly I was bawling my eyes out in Doron's arms. It was so uncontrollable. Everything was. The crying, the shaking, the fast breathing. My heart was beating so fast and so hard as if it were about to jump from my chest. There are no thoughts going through my mind the entire time we're in the bomb shelter. Pure emotion and at the end relief that we weren't hit. As everyone returned to sleep, Doron and I sat in the living room trying to calm me down. We started talking and he began telling me what it was like when they were kids and there were sirens that went off twice a day. For almost a decade of his teenage life, suicide bombers went into buses, cafes, night clubs, every week. As we stayed up talking I was reminded of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The big one... We went to our neighbors house and sat together in the living room throughout the night and throughout the aftershocks. I was 7 and that night was something I'd never forger. I'm beginning to realize that tonight was also one of those nights. Expect far worse. Now the ground wasn't only shaking, but I understood exactly why. To an extent that is. I think of all those years that I've been afraid of earthquakes. Now they are nothing, absolutely nothing compared to... this terror attack? As the sun comes up, eventually I fall back asleep.
The next day was bizarre. I wake up and my mind went straight back to the bomb shelter. The sound of the rockets falling keep going off in my mind. When we go downstairs, it was as if nothing happened. It was like one of those outer body experiences where you are looking at what is happening around you and can't understand how everything is so normal. But it was. I knew before that this was something that happens and Israeli's were a lot more used to it than I was. Being a part of that though, not being able to think or dream or talk about anything else, how can you get used to that? The difference is, when you grow up a certain way, and you live with certain realities, the definition of normal changes. Apparently here, they've gotten used to waking up to the sound of sirens and running down to the bomb shelter. After a while, as Doron's dad said, they say, "Can I go back to sleep now?".
Some 20 rockets were shot into the surrounding cities that day. People died, people were injured, houses were destroyed, tons of people were admitted into the hospital for shock. It reminded me of September 11, when all we did was watch the news, read the newspaper, heard story after story. There are images that will never leave my head from September 11. Neither will images from today. I cant't stop crying.
That night we all sit together for Shabbat dinner. Later we celebrate the engagement of Doron's cousin and fiance. I fell asleep a few hours later like a baby who sits in its crib crying hysterically and eventually falls asleep. 9:10am, I am awakened again.
To Be Continued...