Sunday, July 13, 2014

A taste of war

We visited Mr Hippo's family in Israel recently, in middle of the latest war of the Israel-Gaza conflict. I had never been so close to a war before this trip and experienced the first air-raid siren (and the two following ones in the next two days) in my life.

This was my third time in Israel and everything seemed to be just fine before this trip, even though I learned that security systems in the Tel Aviv airport, where we flew in and out of the country, are much tougher than other parts of the world.  They start to check everybody out even before you enter the airport, and at least two officers will come to talk to you before you reach your airline's ticket counter.  After each round of conversation, they will put some stickers on your suitcase, and as a result, you will have a lot more of those after leaving from Israel.  I  had seven on mine during my first trip there, if I remember correctly.  It wasn't they thought me/my suitcase suspicious or anything.  Nothing personal, it is just their business as usual.  As my brother-in-law said, "Security is a national hobby."

I have a better understanding of this line during this trip.  Every new apartment is required to have a "shelter room," and when the air-raid siren blasted in the air, we dropped everything, rushing into this shelter room and waited until the siren stopped.  The same is for any public space.  The picture above shows a sign in the Tel Aviv airport, directing people to the shelter, and I took the picture in the morning we left Israel.

When it first happened, I was pretty much dragged into the shelter room before I realized what was happening, and then I heard clearly about the siren.  It was like a sudden entry of some surreal movie, and I didn't feel being scared or worried at all before we had our freedom again.  The siren blasted twice in the next two days, and by the third time I reacted quickly without anybody telling me what to do and we also heard loud noise of bombing from Israeli army intercepting Hamas' rockets nearby...Still, children played in and outside the shelter room, during and after the siren periods.  The family were together, and Mr Hippo was beside me, so I didn't feel much either.

My numb feeling finally disappeared when our plane landed in Barcelona, the next stop of our trip.  It was more of a relief than anything else--We successfully escaped the war! 

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