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Bomb-shelter rooms and emergency suitcases always ready: how Israel has been living in a state of constant war for decades

Israel has been living in a state of constant war for decades. Not only natives, but also immigrants are accustomed to constant shelling. How people live in such a situation, the publication found out Hromadske.

Photo: Shutterstock

All Israelis know what to do in the event of an attack

Dmitry, a TV cameraman, resident of Rishon LeZion, moved from Ukraine 10 years ago. He spoke about his life here.

Next - from the first person.

Israel is a very prepared country, and even the possibility of invasions is not considered here. We only have air attacks.

I live in the city of Rishon LeZion near the center. The nearest bomb shelter is in the next entrance.

Many apartments in new buildings or reconstructed houses have a security room - mamad: with thickened walls, iron shutters, armored doors. You can instantly run into and close it, you don’t even need to lie down on the floor.

But in our house there is no such room, that is, in the case of an air siren, you need to run out into the street and go to the next entrance. It is unrealistic to have time, so we just go down to the landing, where we meet with all the neighbors. There we are waiting for the first attacks. If we understand that they will continue, we go to the bomb shelter. Pets, two cats, we do not take with us. They are very afraid of sirens and immediately hide under the bed.

Our family does not have an emergency suitcase. Perhaps we are negligent about it. But, I hope, if something happens, we can restore the documents.

Bomb shelters are not for everyone

Many bomb shelters in Israel are in really good condition. Equipped, with supplies of water, food, canned food, with toilets. But quite often, residents of houses put their things and bicycles there.

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People in the south near the Gaza Strip complain that there are few air raid shelters in their cities, and in old houses there are none at all. Running out onto the landing there is even more dangerous than staying in the apartment. In such cases, local authorities install concrete bunkers in yards.

You fall to the ground and cover your head with your hands

All Israelis know perfectly well what to do in the event of an attack. If during the air siren you are on the street, and there is nothing nearby, you fall to the ground and cover your head with your hands. If there is a fence, it is better to hide behind it. If you are in a car, you stop it, run away, fall to the ground and cover your head with your hands. Ideally, of course, to have a bomb shelter nearby. During periods of escalation of conflicts, people try to go somewhere as little as possible and be closer to protected places.

When the south is shelled, the people of Tel Aviv can sit carefree in a cafe

However, if a conflict starts here, life does not stop. People continue to live. It often happens that the south is shelled, and the residents of Tel Aviv can sit carelessly in a cafe. Communication and the Internet does not disappear, shops work. When air attacks begin, schools are canceled. If this is unexpected, then schools, of course, have bomb shelters. Also, during heavy shelling in the south, the northerners invite them to visit them. Everyone comes together and helps each other.

It seems that in 2014, when there was another aggravation, there was information that the soldiers at the border had run out of toilet paper and socks. And people all over the country began to organize. There were special food collection points for the soldiers, although the Israeli army is very well supplied. People simply flooded the military with paper, socks and food.

Everyone will be notified of the attack.

There is no hysteria here, except for those who have just arrived. It's hard for people to experience this for the first time. I remember when I heard the siren, I didn't panic, I knew what I needed to do and just followed the instructions. In Israel, there is a service that has a website and an application with all the instructions - what to do during shelling, earthquakes, where is the nearest bomb shelter. In the event of a conflict, the service conveys information by any available means: via SMS, television, the Internet, radio in all languages.

“When conflict starts, I have to work in hot spots”

Am I used to it? Maybe yes. It's all very unpleasant. Due to the fact that I work on television, in those moments when the conflict starts and everyone is at home, I have to go to hot spots. There were some really dangerous cases. Once we were working near Sderot, the city closest to the Gaza Strip. Filmed on a hill, there was a beautiful view of the Gaza Strip. Suddenly we heard an explosion, it seemed as if a rocket had fallen somewhere. We raised our heads and saw that she really fell - on a nearby hill, where journalists usually also record. The military often drove them out of there, but as soon as the soldiers left, the press returned. Everything there was overgrown with dry grass, which immediately caught fire. Good thing we weren't there.

“We have 15 seconds: get out of bed and immediately run to the bomb shelter”

Evgenia, a film editor based in Sderot, also talked about her life in Israel.

Next - from the first person.

I moved from Kiev to Israel 10 years ago, the last two of which I live in Sderot. It is the closest city to Gaza. That is, even if there is no war, a shell can still fly to us once a month.

I remember as soon as my husband and I moved into our apartment, I joined the group of residents of the house. The first morning we wake up and I read messages from the neighbors: has everyone closed the windows? I also thought: strange people, why do this, it's warm outside. I tell my husband: let's close it, suddenly it will rain. And suddenly the sirens screeched! For the first time, it's so scary when someone shouts in a human voice: “Red light! Red light!". It turned out that the windows had to be closed because they were starting to bomb. Neighbors read about it in the news and provided for everything.

“At first I just cried sitting in a bomb shelter”

It is unpleasant. I'm still shaking from loudspeaker announcements. Even when I come to Kiev and hear them in the subway, it seems to me that this is a siren.

At first I just cried sitting in a bomb shelter. In other cities, people have a minute to run somewhere, and in Sderot - 15 seconds. This means you don't actually have time. You get out of bed and immediately run to the bomb shelter.

We have an "Iron Dome" that protects. But from the preliminary operation, we realized that the tactics of the Gaza Strip were different. They fired rockets at Israel in different directions, including the center of the country. The Iron Dome could not always cope.

When driving out of town, leave the keys in a secret place.

I remember how a year ago, when there was another operation and they were beaten with such intensity that there was nowhere to go, my friend and I tried to leave by car for Tel Aviv. On the way, I decided to go out for a walk with the dog, and suddenly the siren turned on. We panicked. I was lying at the garbage can, and only at work in Tel Aviv I found out that I had fallen into a pile of garbage, and there were tomatoes on my white T-shirt.

Then she wrote to a group of neighbors, saying, what is the situation in the city? The neighbor asked if I had left the keys to my apartment: they could take my dog ​​for a walk. It turns out that everyone on the floors has secret places where the tenants leave the keys: if someone cannot return, the neighbors take care of the pets and turn off the water.

Once again, we decided to visit friends, because I already had a roof from this siren. They took the dog, I grabbed two pairs of shorts, a T-shirt. I thought we were going for a few days, but everything dragged on for two weeks. Then Tel Aviv was bombed. A friend went to buy me underwear, but all she found before Shabbat were oversized military shorts.

“I don’t understand why we need disturbing backpacks”

But we don't have emergency backpacks. I don't understand why they are. If you need to run, then you should take only a charger from your phone, a credit card and a passport. Documents can be restored. I'm more worried about what will happen if my email or bank cards are hacked. But panties can always be bought.

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How does all this affect me? In addition to the fact that then you need to drink sleeping pills, nothing. The escalation period is very nervous, but at the same time you understand that you have thousands of friends who can eat and sleep. Everyone calls you on the phone, writes.

Life doesn't stop.

How will the ambulance arrive when they are shelling

I remember that there was shelling of Tel Aviv and Hamas warned that it would shoot at 21:00. We decided to go eat ice cream. We reached the cafe at 21:02. Five minutes later, shelling began, we ran into the entrance, and with us a few more tourists from France. One of them began to lose consciousness. I was afraid not for myself, but for him. I understood that I needed to call an ambulance, but how would she arrive if the city was being shelled?

"Many people get injured in panic"

Very often there are injuries. When shelling starts, people fall and injure their legs. Recently there was a case when a girl ran, hit her head against the wall in a panic and broke her nose.

But I also remember how I somehow broke my jaw, and within a minute a lot of people came up to me. Some of them were doctors, some were officers. They gave me a referral to the ambulance, they told me in detail what to do.

Israel is a country where everyone serves in the army. When something happens, everyone is very organized and knows what to do.

“Explosions in the middle of the night, mortars, bursts of machine guns – this is a normal phenomenon only for us”

Joseph, a musician who lives in Ashkelon, also spoke about his life.

Next - from the first person.

For half of my life I lived in Sderot, not far from the Gaza Strip. At first, there was no warning system there, and rockets fell several times a day. We have learned to anticipate attacks using natural methods: conventionally, if a flock of birds instantly flies away from some place or tree, then the rocket will fall in that direction. Subsequently, a warning system appeared, and after it - the "Iron Dome", which is still successfully fulfilling its function.

Now I live in Ashkelon, which is a little further from the Sector. The city is now quiet and peaceful. But as a former military man with 13 years of experience, I understand that explosions at night, mortars and automatic bursts are only normal for us Israelis.

"Even our Labrador knows that there are 21 seconds after the siren"

Air sirens are very rare in Ashkelon. An alert system responds to attack attempts that do not occur during an escalation or conflict period.

There is a security room in my apartment that protects from missiles. Even our Labrador clearly knows that there are 21 seconds after the siren. The dog goes into the room first and sticks out its muzzle - they say, why haven't we come in yet? Simple rules save lives, although many neglect them. Sometimes you hear: sirens sound, and people take out their phones and shoot videos for the social network.

One of the latest victims is a Ukrainian man. He went out for a smoke and the siren sounded. He didn't hide. The rocket fell on a nearby street, and the fragment hit him right in the heart. He died.

During the latest escalation, I often went to television to talk about the situation in the city, and one day the siren went off. If I hadn't lay down and covered my head, maybe I wouldn't have been saved. And so there was no scratch, only a state of shock and more carbon monoxide. Got up and left.

“I am taken to the service during virtually every escalation”

In Israel, our disturbing backpack is a uniform, a change of clothes, a spare toothbrush - and to the service. We cannot leave the country, there is nowhere to run inside. Children and wife can be sent to their parents.

I am called upon during almost every escalation. This type of troops in which I served suggests this. They also take away those who served in the Iron Dome, the rear service, anti-terrorist troops, and intelligence.

Often the state uses such appeals for psychological pressure. Information about 20 thousand reservists immediately appears in the news, they show how we get on the bus, go to training, shooting. For terrorist organizations, this causes panic.

"I don't feel war because I can't afford it"

If they don’t take me to a reservist meeting, then I work on the spot: I take care of children in bomb shelters, I try to help repatriates, older people, those who are afraid. From fragments and missiles, many people panic. We work with them, reassure them. I don't feel war because I can't afford it.

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Together with the volunteers of one public organization, we are engaged in the arrangement of bomb shelters. We appeal to the city authorities and ask them to give them to music or dance clubs for children. We equip them with air conditioners, hot water, internet, television at the expense of sponsors and keep them in proper condition.

Escalation that can be foreseen

Thanks to my military experience, I can predict to within a few hours when the next escalation will begin. My wife and I really like to walk in the border areas on weekends - it's very good there. But by the behavior of the soldiers, by the way the patrol cars drive, the way the equipment is brought in, everything becomes clear.

“I carried a 6-month-old baby out of the house, who died in my arms”

One of the worst experiences of my life happened when I was a police cadet in Sderot. That day I returned home and suddenly heard the sound of a rocket. There was no public address system back then. It turned out that a shell had exploded in a nearby street. He ended up in a house where repatriates from Ethiopia lived. I ran there almost instantly. Everything was on fire, there was dust everywhere. I carried a 6-month-old baby out of the house, who died right in my arms. Then I was in a state of shock, under adrenaline. Then I realized that all parts of the child's body hung down like rotten vegetables. I couldn't drive down that street for a very long time. For ten years, my wife persuaded me, saying that I should overcome myself. In the end, we arrived and erected a monument there.

“We are used to war and we know that it should be expected every six months”

Of course, one cannot get used to such a situation. Recently, rockets began to reach the center of the country. Let it be crudely said, but the southerners rejoiced when the rockets hit there. We sometimes call Tel Aviv a separate country - its inhabitants do not agree with what is happening in the south.

In the south, we are accustomed to war as a normal occurrence and we know that it should be expected every six months. Probably in a month we may again face an escalation. Everything goes to this.

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