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Reesa Stone and Family

 
REESA COHEN STONE FROM SOUTHERN ISRAEL: WHEN A SIREN GOES OFF IN THE SUPERMARKET

Reesa Stone, November 22, 2012

 
Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
Book of Exodus, 14:19-20
 
Wednesday, November 14 started out just like other days in Southern Israel. We got up, prepared for work/school, checked the weather (it had been raining the day before) and listened where rockets fell during the night on the morning news.
 
It was a beautiful day. I took my younger daughter to buy shoes and fix her glasses.
Little did we know that it would be just about the last time we’d be outside for a week.
 
At about 4:30 PM – an hour after we got home – the news came through that the Israeli Air Force had targeted and killed Ahmed Jabari, master terrorist who was personally responsible for the thousands of missiles raining down on our farms and cities, and who had planned and directed the attack that lead to the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.
 
One small bit of evil less in the world, was my only thought.
 
The Army’s Home Front Command immediately ordered all schools within 40 km of Gaza to be closed for the following day (and the foreseeable future), and advised all residents to stay close to a ‘safe room’—a room that is fortified with concrete and can withstand missile attacks.
 
Though I was in my house, one could feel the tension of the news presenters as quiet settled in over our usually busy street.
 
At 6:00 PM I called my daughter who studies in Sapir College in the town of Sderot, which has taken the brunt of the Gazan missiles for the past 10 years. She was on her way home. The college had sent all students home and closed down – something that had not happened since Cast Lead in 2008, despite the almost 2000 rockets that had rained down since then.
 
First started in 1963 as an adult night school serving the immigrants in the area, Sapir College has grown to over 8000 students in 15 different departments in both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Its Department of Communications and Department for Cinematic Arts are very popular with students throughout the country.
 
When she got home about half an hour after I had called, my daughter told me that the news about Jabari had reached the college about 45 minutes before it was officially released. Many of the students, veterans of Sderot and fully aware of the implications of the attack, simply got up and left the classrooms, wanting to get home quickly to their families. Eventually, the teacher simply dismissed the class. My daughter walked out of her building on one side of the campus to look down into a storm of students streaming out of buildings all making their way to the parking lot. It seemed that all 8000 students were leaving at the same time. A traffic jam had formed at the exit of the campus, as people waited patiently to get out of the security gate. During this whole time, booms could be heard coming from our forces in Gaza. Some of the students, however, thought the noise was incoming kassams and ran for shelter.
 
We were both stiff with tension. We simply sat, watching the news on TV, waiting for the sirens to begin.
We did not have long to wait. The first siren came a few minutes before 8:00 PM. We heard the Iron Dome anti-missile system go off, and then BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM.
 
10 missiles were shot into Beer Sheva as an opening salvo. The Iron Dome shot down seven, two fell in open ground, and one hit a car in town.
 
20 more sirens followed in the next 24 hours. Over 50 missiles were launched. Most were shot down, the others did no damage.
 
On Thursday morning, I dodged the rockets and went to the supermarket to buy food for Shabbat. Though I had waited for the regular-as-clockwork early morning siren to go, there were two sirens during the 45 minutes I was in the store.  Being in a public place during a siren is an interesting experience. When the first siren sounded, I was waiting in line at the meat counter for chicken. I tapped the man in front of me who was giving his order to let him know but he felt he needed to finish giving in his order before following the rest of the store’s customers into the shelter, which doubles as an office. A couple of dozen people crowded into the shelter in what can only be described as a party atmosphere. People were laughing and joking, comparing stories of where they had been ‘when the siren went’. I waved to a few aquaintences. When, a few minutes later, I returned to the meat counter, the young man serving – a bedouin –  was standing cutting up pieces of chicken. “Didn’t you go for a little walk”, I asked him, meaning, of course, going to the shelter with the rest. “No”, he answered, “I’m tired of going for little walks. It’s driving me crazy.”
 
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