Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Meeting the Missiles in My Sewervilla

Meeting the Missiles in My Sewervilla

Expelled from the Katif Bloc, living in Nitzan in southern Israel in temporary, flimsy caravillas (caravan homes), the writer and neighbors use a large concrete sewer pipe as a missile shelter.
From Rachel Saperstein, Southern Israel
We spent most of Friday night and Shabbat listening for the siren and running to the large concrete sewer pipe which we use as a bomb shelter.
Missiles are fired at us from nearby Gaza.

How dramatically your lifestyle changes  when you are under attack!  You sleep in thermal pajamas. You keep a heavy robe close by. You wear thick socks. Your slippers are at the ready. Bathroom time is a 'maybe'. Shower time is a 'hopeful'. You wash your hair quickly and breathe a sigh of relief that you managed to rinse off before the siren sounds.

The sewervilla has become a meeting place for the families in our cul-de-sac. A member of each family is in charge of a particular child. The little ones cling to their protectors, their heads burrowed into a shoulder. Each child is wrapped in a blanket as the nights are chilly. You see the look of fear in the eyes of older children. We sit on the two benches in the middle of the pipe.

There is no light. A street lamp shines nearby.

Those who have left the Katif bloc expellees' refugee camp and already live in their own house again have a protected room. Mandated by law, the protected room has large amounts of concrete and steel. The window has a thick metal cover, and an air filtration system is built into the wall.

I commented to a friend who has already moved, "Isn't it great that you can go to sleep in your protected room, while we in the caravilla site must run back and forth to the 'sewervilla'."

"We miss the camaraderie" she said.

The sound of the Iron Dome defense system missiles hitting the incoming rocket is more frightening than the sound of the rocket exploding on the ground.

'S' arrives at the 'sewervilla' every time with her cat in a travel bag. She is depressed, and we cling to each other. 'A' arrives with her daughters and granddaughters. Her husband chews on nuts, spitting the shells everywhere, shouting "Look! Look!" as he watches incoming rockets intercepted by Iron Dome missiles. Indeed, it's a "War of the Titans" played out above us.

One teenager covers her ears as tightly as she can. 'E' arrives with his grandchildren and his tiny brown dog. This dog yaps at our cats at feeding time. At least 'E's big fat white chicken is not accompanying him.
Moshe went into the sewer pipe just once. Since missiles and bullets are attracted to him, I guess he feels safer in the caravan "caravilla' instead of trying to survive the ten second run from the warning siren to the missile hit.

We could do without this communal get together. Also without the tension and lack of sleep.
Is this a forerunner of life under Iranian threat?

I remember the then-mayor of Ashkelon assuring me that "life will be quieter for you once they take you out of Gush Katif [Katif Bloc in Gaza, from where over 8000 Israeli citizens were expelled from thriving 30 year old communities in 2005 and turned into refugees by then-PM Ariel Sharon, ed.] The Gazans will live in peace once you are gone."

Talk about famous last words.

Life has proven otherwise.