The reality of life under Israel's Iron Dome

Sirens wail. Rockets explode. And each attack creates more psychological victims

Shimon Solomon
Friday 01 August 2014 10:40
The Iron Dome defence system fires to intercept incoming missiles from Gaza in the port town of Ashdod in Israel
The Iron Dome defence system fires to intercept incoming missiles from Gaza in the port town of Ashdod in Israel

Living under rocket fire is not easy and that’s an understatement. It is now the summer vacation from school, but the reality today doesn’t feel like a vacation at all.

Each time that I hear the media report that "Iron Dome has intercepted a rocket, and no one has been harmed". I chuckle to myself. Only someone who has not lived under rocket fire can report this. With each wail of the siren, in each city or village, with each explosion that is heard, and with each sprint to the safe room or bomb shelter, we have more and more psychological causalities. The inhabitants of the south carry with them the trauma, fears and nightmares, especially the children.

On my drive home at night I see in the distance another successful interception by "Iron Dome". I try to imagine what would happen if this great system was not watching over us, if it was not for the brilliant minds behind the development of the system who managed to successfully stand up to the great technological challenges in such a short time frame, where would we be today?

The siren catches me together with other citizens on the road on our way home.

We stop by the side of the road, get out of our cars and lie down, there are about 30 seconds left to impact…..I try to calm a very frightened woman as we lay down next to one another. A mother lies over her son to protect him with her body. In the background we still hear the siren.

I think about the incomprehensible reality that we are living in. This situation can only occur in Israel. During Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers, everyone gets out of their cars and stands in memory during the memorial siren and in time of war everyone gets out of their cars and lies down to the same siren.

At these times, solidarity is growing; the differences between people are diminished. Religious and non-religious people, Jews and Arabs, our collective fate has made people more generous, patient and tolerant. The rockets don't differentiate.

Explosion. Another successful interception. Another explosion. Silence returns. An old lady takes the time to return to her car, everyone waits for her patiently. In another car a man gives a bottle of water to someone next to him, a young man calms down a frightened child who is crying. If there is a positive part to all this, this is it.

It is late at night and I enter my house. Another siren. My three children and my wife are at home. My youngest daughter aged five is already asleep. We all enter the safe room and wait for the explosions, hoping the rocket will not fall close to us. My little daughter holds on to her mother and won't let go. The older ones have become used to the situation, but they too are scared. It hits close to us. I run out to the neighborhood to see if anyone is hurt. The rocket hit my son's school, luckily, while it was empty. This operation is accompanied with miracles that happen to us every day.

I explain to my sons that everyone is scared. The situation is complicated and sometimes scary, but the strength of our army and government is determined by the strength of its citizens.

I explain to them that there are soldiers not sleeping at night so that we can sleep peacefully and they will continue to work till quiet is returned to us.

My younger son, nearly 13, asks me about becoming a soldier; I tell him that his time will come too and in my heart I promise myself that I will do all I can that peace will come first.

Shimon Solomon is a politician with the Yesh Atid party in Israel