A siren, a dash to shelter, then all hell breaks loose – Inside Israel, where everyone’s at a funeral or drafted for war

A siren, a dash to shelter, then all hell breaks loose – Inside Israel, where everyone’s at a funeral or drafted for war

WHEN war broke out I was still asleep. It was the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah – supposed to be one of the happiest days in the calendar. 

In usual years, synagogues are full of dancing and singing, and sweets are thrown for children to collect as they jump with joy.

APIsraeli soldiers carry the flag-covered coffin of a comrade in Jerusalem[/caption]

SuppliedCrystal Jones now lives in constant fear of being murdered by Hamas[/caption]

Jones is haunted by the sounds or air sirens and rockets

This year however was a far cry from such festivities. 

I was in my apartment in Jerusalem, enjoying a lie in when the first air raid siren woke me shortly after 8am. 

A friend who was visiting me from the UK rushed into my room, bleary-eyed and confused, having also been shaken from her sleep.

Many homes in Israel have a safety room with heavy metal window shutters and doors called a “mamad”. 

We ran into mine and bolted everything behind us. That was the first of many sirens throughout the day – I lost count after nine.

With each one, several sonic booms could be heard as the iron dome intercepted deadly rockets, exploding them in the sky above. Some make the buildings shake.

Throughout the day, we could hear multiple emergency vehicle sirens and what sounded like gunshots.

We later heard that several terrorist attacks had been thwarted across Jerusalem, including two terrorists walking into a synagogue with knives.

Multiple IDF soldiers had to storm one area in Jerusalem where Palestinian militants had gathered and were planning to break into people’s homes.

The following days have been like living in a horror film. Hearing what happened to fellow Jews has had a devastating effect on everyone’s mental state. 

It has all been such a shock, I can only think of life before and after. 

Often when I check up on friends, they are either at a funeral or have been drafted.

We’ve barely been able to sleep with the sound of military jets flying overhead and the expectation of more air raid sirens going off.

Everyone – including myself – has been jumping out of their skin anytime anyone knocks on a door. We all have it in the back of our minds that it could be a terrorist wanting to kill us.

We’ve been doing our best to get on with normal life but we are on edge never knowing when the next attack is coming. 

The scariest air raid siren for me was when I was alone in outside and not close enough to any building to run into.

I had no option but to throw myself on the ground and put my hands over my head. 

A rocket landed about three miles from where I was but didn’t explode and I felt the ground shake.

We have been advised to stay in and only go out for essentials. 

The air is heavy and the usual bustling roads have been mostly empty. 

The few stores that are open have bare shelves as everyone has scrambled to stock up, should we be trapped inside for days.

Even the local Whatsapp groups which are usually full of chit chat and banter have been hushed.

Everyone is aware that Hamas have phones stolen from murdered Israelis and can likely see anything we post.

Many people, including tourists or those visiting relatives for the Jewish holiday of Sukkos have been stuck and scared and left scrambling for flights. 

Very few have managed to get back to their home countries.

In the last couple of days, I’ve seen fellow British Israelis sawing down metal bars to place across their mamad doors and loading guns should a terrorist attempt to invade their property. 

These activities have been carried out whilst simultaneously doing something as normal as having a cup of tea and telling kids to get into their pyjamas. 

The war has not stopped us entirely from getting on with things and everyone is doing what they can to help soldiers as well as each other.

Friends and family back in the UK keep asking if I will fly back and the answer is – absolutely not. 

Spurred by rage at the atrocities committed, I am hoping I can do some kind of volunteering with the IDF after my Israeli ID has come through.

I moved to Israel in April and opened a file for citizenship just a week before the war broke out.

I am not backing out now in Israel’s biggest time of need.

AFPSaddened troops at a military funeral[/caption]

AFPIsrael drafted 360,000 reserve troops to bolster their army ahead of an expected invasion[/caption]

An Israeli woman goes shopping armed with an M16

AFPTroops, tanks and weapons have been amassing on Gaza’s border for a week[/caption]

GettyAn Israeli women cries as she discovers news about missing relatives[/caption]

AFPThe aftermath of the Supernova festival massacre where 260 partygoers were murdered[/caption]

GettyIsraeli troops attend a funeral for fallen comrades[/caption]

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