Monday, March 3, 2008

Ashkelon - A Friend's Personal Story

The situation in the areas near, and now farther from, Gaza is worsening. The following is from a friend of ours, Maxine Dorot, mother of our friend and former Shaliah, Tal Dorot. It is a first person description of what it is like to live in Ashkelon right now, which is being heavily targeted by Hamas Grad Missiles from Gaza:

It's 11:54. Monday, the 3rd of march. At 8:44 exactly, without warning, a massive explosion shook the quiet morning. Seconds after, there was one more. Once again, my area did not hear the warning of "tseva adom". Probably just as well. with 15 seconds to find shelter, i probably wouldn't have made it...well, maybe just.

i was sitting at the computer writing to my sister. The windows, as is the norm now, are open. Doesn't matter if it's cold out or not, they're opened, except for a few that remain "protected" by the shutters. Those are the windows directly over the beds. Wouldn't want glass shattering on you, now would you? (Like the shutters are really going to help but maybe a little).

This the first time a missile fell while elementary and high schools were in session. My cleaning lady is here. She arrived late because her 8 year old son was afraid to walk to school alone. Since last week, he has been escorted by someone in the family; he always used to go alone.

When the first missile went off, Malka didn't know what to the school? Go there? I calmed her down and we waited. The 2nd one went off very soon after. She called the school but after a missile attack, cell phones don't work. "Network busy" reads the screen. She used the house phone to reach the school but of course, the lines were busy. So we waited and soon, her son called her. "Take me home," he asked. He wasn't crying but his voice was very small.

When he walked into the house, he seemed fine. I asked him to tell me what had happened. They didn't hear the alert but the principal, whose office is next door, ran in and told the kids to get under their desks, hands over their heads. The girl next to Gal was singing the whole time, I guess to keep herself calm. Since they've been practicing for this for weeks, they were all one in the 3rd grade class panicked until it was over. Then the girl who had been singing began to cry. Most of the kids wanted "Ema". Those who wanted to go home were dismissed when an adult came for them. Some of the kids wanted to stay.

It's hard to describe these "booms". Depending on how close you are to them, they have a reverberating deep sound. Then there's like an echo that reverberates for a few seconds. If you're close enough to a house or a building that 's been hit, you hear the sound of rubble falling. Then you listen for sirens to judge how close it is to you. Within a minute, your house phone starts ringing...people checking on you and yours and then speculating as to where the rockets fell. Somehow, Tal finds out pretty fast where it is. He took a bus to school today (yesterday, Sderot was hit by almost 50 rockets) because they learn in a protected room and then are going to a seminar in Tel Aviv. He won't take his car there anymore and doesn't plan to go back for a while after today. However, all the students are worrying about their studies. Yesterday, in "my" college here in Ashkelon, less than 1/3rd of the students showed. I bet there are even less today.

There was not one room booked in the hotel last night. We are usually 35-40% full during the winter weeks but I think we're going to be in for a rough time now. All the hotels here will be.

Living from missile to missile is nuts. I woke up at 6:30 this morning playing "tseva adom" in my head. Checked the news and then forced myself back to sleep til 8 but it's just nuts. Took a shower and washed my hair. While still in my pajamas I washed my hair over the sink, then ran into the shower and was out in less than 4 minutes, dried and dressed in another 3. A record for me!! Dried my hair in front of the open window so I would hear anything fall, just in case.

Shani woke up from the grads, checked that we were all okay and then muttered, "this is crazy" and went back to sleep. Today she works from 4 to 10 but she and another girl from Ashkelon decided to go in earlier. The office is in Kiryat Malachi, 20 minutes from here and way out of missile range.

I don't teach on Mondays and have to do some errands. Am not too crazy about going out but will not stop my life, at least not yet. If we get to the point that we have to live in our shelters, Shani and I and the dogs are out of here, but I hope we never get to that. Rafi has a business to run but we'll see.

Will take a deep breath and go outside. Knowing me, I'll take a detour to see where the grads fell today. Feel free to pass this on to anyone who might be interested.

Maxine, Ashkelon

While the IDF conducted a brief, two day mission to slow the launching of rockets toward Sderot and Ashkelon, and other places, Hamas "celebrated" their survival despite the fact that over 100 terrorists were killed over the two days. Sadly, civilians in Gaza were killed also, some by errant missiles launched by Hamas that fell short of their targets and others who were killed as bystanders during Israeli action. More to be said later. For now, let us hope that there will be a quiet night for everyone.


Tal said...

I can't believe I am reading this about my family. As long as the Qassams were hitting only where I was (at my college), I was willing to deal with it. Having my family thretend by them as well now is so much harder.
Yavo Shalom Aleynu ve'al kulam.

Tal Dorot, Ashkelon.

Rabbi Loren Sykes said...

Tal, We are thinking of you and your family. I hope you have a quiet, safe Shabbat.

Rabbi Loren Sykes