Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ran Boker (Ynet) on living under rocket fire in Beersheva

Ran Boker, a columnist for Ynet, wrote a very powerful article on what it's like to live under attack, in Hebrew. I've translated his column (Ynet hasn't yet posted it in English).

What escalation? There’s a crazy after-Purim

Ran Boker

Friday afternoon, the pots are on the stove, the table is already set, and Shabbat is knocking at the door.  A little update from the internet tears apart the festive atmosphere: the liquidation of a senior figure in the Resistance Committees. “Ema,” I call, “I don’t want to ruin your Shabbat, but look forward to a stormy Shabbat.” Her glance was troubled and fearful. I hope that nothing will happen. We, the residents of Beersheva and all the residents of the south, we have suffered enough. The evening approaches and the fear only increases.

Fleeing to the center is not an option, my soldier brother has just now returned from his military service. The truth? We also don’t have a protected room in the house, so we decided to pack up and to pass the Shabbat with our aunt and uncle, there they at least have a protected room. My soldier brother cancels his plans to enjoy himself, and is satisfied with a costume and sitting in the protected room of friends. My mother, wearing pajamas after a hard week, only waits for the siren so that this will pass. Ten at night, and now it arrives. The first siren. We descend to the protected room with a hysteria that will never pass, no matter how much we get used to it.

The waiting there only to hear the boom, in the small and empty protected room, to understand that we have been saved. This siren really signals to you that only a minute separates between you and another life, if indeed there is life. We go out of the protected room, and Ema has her regular hysteria. My little brother tries to calm her: “Ema, learn to enjoy the siren.” We go to sleep, with the windows open despite the freezing cold. None of us wants to miss the siren. “See you later with the Grads of 6 a.m.,” one of our cousins writes on his Twitter account.

Six in the morning? Ah, you’re joking with me. One in the morning, three in the morning, seven in the morning, and ten in the morning. The siren screams, go try to sleep after the difficult week that was. These trips to Tel Aviv every day. Ah, I’m sorry, I haven’t presented myself, I am Ran Boker, the gossip columnist for Ynet. I travel every day from Beersheva to Tel Aviv, round-trip. An hour and a half of traveling on the railroad, which separates between the fear, the darkness, the hysteria, the sirens, and the booms, and the city that never stops.

I want to be with them, to be afraid with them.

I was angry with my friends from the center who haven’t asked how I am. One SMS, it wouldn’t kill them to see that I’m okay. “We saw your status on Facebook, and saw that you’re okay,” they answered me. I don’t think that they don’t worry about me, I simply don’t think that they have any idea. They were busy with Purim parties. The truth is that I don’t really blame them. When the Qassams fell in Sederot for eight years, that didn’t really interest us in Beersheva, except for a “tut-tut” on our tongues when we saw them running for the shelters. In the afternoon, after the direct hit of the Grad on Beersheva, I became angry.

When I heard about the (Grad) falling (on Beersheva), no “item” interested me. I didn’t even eat anything, I only wanted to be there, with them, with my family in Beersheva. To feel the pain, to fear, and to feel them. I said, “There was a direct hit on Beersheva.” No one turned around, this really didn’t interest anyone. My friends in Tel Aviv continued with their own affairs. Until one righteous person in Sodom asked, “What? What did you say?” “Nothing,” I said, “Be ashamed of yourselves, there’s a direct hit in Beersheva and you’re not interested at all?” One of my acquaintances answered: “It’s Bibi who throws the Grads at you, be angry with him.” Do you get it? He still hasn’t asked if there were injured people and immediately turned it into a political argument. They will never understand. I only wish that they, my friends in the center, will come sleep at my house for one night. To feel what it’s like. I didn’t say another word about the fact that my friends in Beersheva are praying that a missile should fall on Tel Aviv, “so that they’ll understand.” Yes, the anger and the pain have reached this level.

I don’t know why I’m writing these words, perhaps so that the Tel Avivis will understand us, even though I don’t believe that will happen. There’s an after-Purim that it’s impossible to miss, that’s more important. Maybe I just write to weep over the keyboard, because aside from that there’s really nothing we can do. Understand that your fate is placed in the hands of Iron Dome, four cement walls, and a dangerous Grad missile. But what idiotic things am I saying? Today Big Brother is on television, only there shouldn’t be a special news program so that they have to cancel the broadcast.

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