[Rabbi Anita Steiner is an RRC graduate and a long-time resident of Ashkelon. She is the chair of Rabbis for Human Rights. This story was written around 5 P.M. today Israel time. Ed.] On the radio, every hour and also on the half hour, the names of the soldiers who have died are listed as well as the times and places of their funerals. The Israeli casualties are mounting, in addition to all the casualties in Gaza.
Yesterday after the seventh rocket here, I stopped counting. The house of some one I know was damaged by a rocket that was close to hers. Even when there aren't rockets landing, there is a lot of noise. Helicopters, planes, jets, artillery being fired, and many unknown booms. And so many of our kids, brothers, husbands, friends, either in Gaza or poised to go in.
One friend, is volunteering at the "emergency war room" at the city hall. He said it is amazing the sophisticated equipment there. There is a huge screen, that projects a picture of the entire city ( we're around 120,000 people living here) apparentely from a satellite that shows immediately where rockets have landed. The computerized system also shows if there are handicapped people, people who are bedridden, etc., in the area who might need special help. So in addition to the firefighters, MDA - Magen David Adom, bulldozers and others that go to a site right away - social workers and others go too.
The same friend was taking a train to Tel Aviv yesterday, and there was a siren. The train stopped and everyone was instructed to lie down on the floor and cover thier heads with their hands and arms. Not too sophisticated, but what else can be done?
A friend's teenage daughter was on a bus when there was a siren. Of course the bus stopped and all the doors were opened. But she could not get out because she was sitting next to an elderly woman with a bunch of bags from shopping at the shuk all around her, and the older woman could not move. The teenager was terrified, because there was no way she could even climb over the woman if the bus was hit.
There are "quiet" frequencies on the radio, that tell you when there are sirens, I rember them from the first Gulf war when there were Scuds. You can use it at night, keeping the volume way up high to make sure you hear a siren, for people who are shomrei shabbat, if the warning sriens aren't strong enough where you live, etc. They were set up that each region would have its own frequency. But unfortunately there are now so many areas in range of the rockets fired from Gaza, that several towns, cities, and regional councils are on the same frequency.
My friend and tennis partner tried to call her friend in the north of Gaza. Her friend is a building contractor, and built her miklat- the bomb shelter and an addition to the house. (I wrote about this when the rockets started in Ashkelon in March). Her friend's name is Jihad, yes that is his name. But none of his phones were working. She was hoping that he had built himself a miklat, as he is head of a family of 30 people.
People have interesting stories about their current showering habits. One person said she wasn't going to shower while the rockets continued to be fired. She said that if she were to die in the shower, she didn't want everyone to see pictures of her nude!
Another friend says that she doesn't shower often, as they have to go down two floors to get to a safe place. They live on the top floor of an apartment house and their apartment faced south. First she washes her hair in the sink, dressed, then in the shower she washes one partof her body, rinses, and does another part. They have a big terry robe next to the shower. Her daughter found another solution - she wears her bikini when showering.
One person I know won't make omelettes any more. One day she had started to make one, and there was a siren. She had to turn off the gas before rushing to safely. When she returned to the kitchen she had to beat the eggs again and started to add spices, another siren, and then another. In all it took her 30 minutes to finish the omelette.
And I heard of someone only eating salads and sandwiches, as she is afraid to use the gas.
Everyone seems to have their own worries and quirks regarding the rockets.But everyone, when they go out thinks:
May there be an end to this violence. May there be a ceasefire. May the world be concerned with what is happening on both sides of this border.