For the past year my hometown of Ashqelon has been under rocket attacks from Gaza, but this winter was the first time I witnessed these attacks -- experiencing life under the threat of random death.
People in Ashqelon have 20 seconds to find shelter from the rockets, lucky new homes have bombs shelters.But what can you do if you find yourself in the middle of the street?
The distance from my house to the bus station is five minutes. Last week, a minute after I got off the bus the alarm sounded, I ducked near a parked car until the sound of the rocket explosion was over. Two minutes after that another alarm sounded, this time I ran for shelter under a building, other people stopped their cars and left them with a running engine to run for shelter.
One evening my baby niece was in the tub playing with her rubber ducky, and the alarm sounded. We barely had 20 seconds to run for shelter. I instantly leaned over to cover my niece with my body to protect her in case that rocket hit the house.
My 85-year old grandmother also lives in Ashqelon and is confined to a wheelchair. For her, 20 seconds are not enough time to find shelter. My brother and I had to move her bed into the shelter room to make sure she was safe at all times.
In a sad way, the sound of the rocket explosion is a sign of comfort because it signals that it is safe to leave the shelter.
In Ashqelon you can hear the sounds of explosions coming from Gaza, we know that civilians on the other side may get hurt. Israel is at war with Hamas, not the Palestinian people. Hamas is a radical organization that is devoted for the destruction of Israel instead of building a sustainable Palestinian society.
Tzvi Raviv is the Jewish Agency for Israel Shaliach and Israel Program Coordinator at Hillel Foundation of Orange County. He recently returned to campus at UC, Irvine following a winter Taglit-Birthright Israel trip and vacation with family.