It has been already five long days since the beginning of the “Pillar of Defence” Operation. Many thoughts come to mind. Tonight, I have decided to summarise them in ten words. Ten common terms, usually used, but this time my feelings and emotions are going to redefine them in a new way.

  • ·Sirens: I am walking around in Tel Aviv, the cultural and economic centre of Israel. The bubble, the hub, the very place where nothing is supposed to happen. The cacophonous blast of the sirens surprise me as I make my way; it informs me that I have one minute and 45 seconds left (compared to the 15 seconds in the southern city of Sderot) to reach a shelter. The siren is loud and penetrates all.
  • ·Fear: The feeling courses through me and will remain until the end of the alert. It reminds me that I am so vulnerable. It shows me that every single object around me has become a target and that I, too, have become one.
  • ·Shelter: It is the first time that I enter an armoured room to seek refuge. I have entered the first building on my way, and as all the other passers-by have done, I am going towards one of the special rooms, a “strong room”, usually used as guest or storage rooms. This time I contemplate its walls, trying to persuade myself that no rocket will pierce them. But my attention is quickly drawn to the nearby children who have started to cry. The alert’s ten-minute waiting period will be dedicated to calm them down and to convince them that all is OK. In the shelter, dozens of Israelis, previously unknown to one another, are chatting like old friends. I also take part of the conversations. I check the news on my smartphone. A woman, a southerner, says that she has heard the boom of a rocket exploding. She is used to it, she explains; for her, this has been the norm for four years already.
  • ·Comprehension: I would not dare to say that after having experienced only one alert I have understood everything. But it is like a first draft: I am starting to see what Southern inhabitants have been living with since 2005. Constant firing, alerts that go off both day and night, damaged houses and rockets’ fragments lying on the streets. And I am ashamed to say, that until now, I had never realised the terrible reality of their daily lives.
  • ·Mutual aid: People are wonderful and show an exemplary solidarity. Everywhere in the country, doors are opened for Southerners. Friends and family call each other to hear from one another and check in. My Israeli friends make sure that I, the new immigrant, know how to react in case of an alert. “You know, you have never experienced this in Paris, we are used to it already”, they tell me. I wonder: can you ever really get used to it? I adopt the country’s habits and I also call, one by one, my married friends to check if their husbands have been mobilised, and if I can do anything to help.

And this solidarity is not only between Israelis. It also takes the form of messages coming in from all over the world: SMS, emails, phone calls, “likes” on Facebook. Any single person that supports Israel, it does not matter if they are Jewish or not, holds on to let us know that we are not standing alone. And these daily proofs that they care touch us and strengthen us. Thank you. We are grateful for it.

  • ·News: I have never watched the news so many times in the same day. I go from one website to another, checking the “breaking-news”, counting the number of rockets fired since the morning. I woke up checking what is going on and I fall asleep, my phone in my hands. Every time I read an unknown person has been injured, my stomach hurts and I stop everything to say a psalm for his speedy recovery.
  • ·Technologies: Tsahal, or the Israel Defence Forces, had understood that this time, it cannot lose the “social networks war”. The IDF“tweets” when it strikes Hamas terrorist heads or when they target stashed hidden weapons. They put videos on-line and refresh their Facebook page all the time.

Technology also means the “Iron Dome”, the mechanism that intercepts the murderous rockets as they hurtle towards heavily populated areas. Each missile is extremely expensive but in Israel, life has no price.


  • ·Disgust: For all those who explain this operation through conspirationist theories, asserting that Bibi had organised all of this to get more votes in the upcoming elections.
  • ·Confidence: A double meaning. A strong and renewed confidence in the Jewish people’s resilience and its ability to hold it on. And an even stronger confidence in the Source of everything, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the Holy One Blessed Be He, that at every single moment protects us and saves us.
  • ·Pride: My last word. A enormous sense of pride for this country that is Israel. An undefinable feeling that makes me so happy and gives me so much courage in these hard moments. A noble feeling, fed every day by what I see around me. The majestic feeling, that makes it clear that when I came here, I made the right choice.


Eliana Gurfinkiel

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