Yael Eckstein on Running to a Bomb Shelter is a Weekly Routine for Israelis

Israelis prepare to enter a bomb shelter as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets in the southern city of Ashkelon July 9, 2014. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

These days, we all face unprecedented challenges. But thankfully, there’s one challenge most people in the West don’t have to face: the imminent threat of terrorism and war.

Yet in Israel, we do. Rockets fired by Hamas, Hezbollah, or other terrorist groups could land in our backyards or a children’s playground at any moment. This adds another level of danger to an already terrifying situation.

Children in Israel, who are raised with daily or weekly code red sirens as part of their reality, bear the emotional scars. Tomer, a father of four who lives in an Israeli town just miles from Hamas-ruled Gaza, recently spoke with a staff member of the organization I lead, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), about the impact on his own kids.

(Courtesy of Yael Eckstein)

“We’ve all suffered mentally, but our 10-year-old daughter has really been the most affected,” he said. “It was hard for her to go to school, be with friends, and live a normal life due to the trauma of sirens and rocket fire.

“She even had trouble leaving the bomb shelter,” Tomer went on to tell us. “We would drag mattresses back and forth from the house to be with her when she refused to leave the shelter at night. Thank God, a psychologist is helping her cope with the trauma. She has shown great bravery for her age, but it’s something no child should have to go through.”

By some standards, Tomer and his family are “lucky.” They live close enough to a bomb shelter to make it to safety in time, with the 20-second warning they have before the rocket lands. Many 10-year-olds around the world are grateful for and eagerly anticipate expensive gifts and the latest technology. Tomer’s daughter is grateful for having a bomb shelter.

Unfortunately, the situation for many Israelis is different. A recent story in the Jerusalem Post noted that 2.6 million Israelis lack the protection of a bomb shelter. Think about that for a moment. 2.6 million people under constant threat from terrorists can’t protect themselves, 2.6 million people who hear the code red siren signifying an incoming rocket have nowhere to run to for safety. That’s nearly the population of Chicago, or the entire state of Kansas.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Yael Eckstein