Contributed by CAMERA Intern Rebecca Pritzker:
15: The siren sounds.
14: Paralyzing panic. Frozen fingertips and suspended motion.
10: Running. Everyone is running.
9: Children scurrying. Parents herding and carrying them.
8: Where is the nearest shelter?
7: Will I make it?
6: Will everyone make it?
5: Make space. Brace yourselves.
4: Where is my family?
3: Hyperventilate. It’s impossible to breathe.
2: Some children sing in unison.
1: Eyes closed. Shut tightly. Pray.
0: Explosions. Cries of pain and worry. Ambulance sirens sound.
No more shock. Just fear. Perpetual fear.
Not once, not twice, but continuously. This is the life of a resident of Sderot, Israel.
When Hamas, the terrorist organization that governs Gaza, which is only about one kilometer from Sderot, orders rockets to be fired into the small city, residents have only 15 seconds to reach a shelter.
Whether they are at the grocery store, the elementary school, the park, or anywhere else that life may take them, residents of Sderot must be constantly vigilant. They live their lives knowing that at any moment, a siren could sound, indicating that there are 15 seconds before a rocket lands nearby.
Rudee references a video about Sderot kindergartners and their teachers hastening to the safety of a shelter after a siren sounds to warn them about incoming rockets.
That was 2007. Even back then, though, the kindergartners had grown somewhat accustomed to the onslaught of rockets. They automatically ran to the shelter when the siren sounded, and once there, they shouted, counted backwards, and sang, as if they had done so dozens of times before.
The then five and six-year-olds are now pre-teens. The threat of rocket fire in Sderot, however, has remained constant. And the combined terror and peril affects every single resident of the city.
If you watch the news, listen to the radio, or read the newspaper today, however, you may not learn anything about Sderot and the continual terror its citizens face. Rockets land there on an almost daily basis, yet most do not know about this small city.
But it is time that they did.