Azaka, azaka, Yad Mordechai, azaka.
(Azaka is Hebrew for siren. Yad Mordechai is a kibbutz in southern Israel.)
The quiet, serious voice pierces the silence of a pre-dawn Shabbat as the silent radio station comes alive. It is about 2 a.m. and I’m sitting in my kitchen drinking a glass of water, just enjoying the respite from the week’s tensions and emotional roller coaster. I listen intently for the drum roll of place names to follow, indicating a march of missiles up the coastal plain from Gaza, but there is only one place mentioned this time. My mind immediately conjures up pictures of what must be taking place in Yad Mordechai. Are people safely asleep in their protected areas or did parents have to become instantly alert within a few seconds, grab a child and head for the protected area? Fifteen seconds is about the time they had. It takes me more than 15 seconds to wake from sleep when my radio alarm goes off on normal days, and I can’t imagine how frightful it must be to have to be alert and on the move or risk injury and possibly death for your beloved family.
Which Child Do You Choose to Save?
What do you do if you have a sleeping infant or toddler who doesn’t want to be roused in the middle of the night? What do you do if your teenager just rolls over and mutters when you try to wake him/her? If you have more than one child, which one do you grab first? Do both parents take responsibility for getting each child to safety? What happens if there is only one parent available? What happens if there is an elderly person who cannot move quickly. These are questions and routines that most of us do not confront in the normal process of day-to-day living, but they are vital to our citizens in the south. Would you be prepared to live like this?
Later in the day, on Shabbat, I realize that the silent radio has remained silent for quite a long time. I wonder what is happening out there. There is a ceasefire, as I learn from news reports after Shabbat. This ceas fire is only temporary and Hamas later says that it did not agree to extend it. Why does Israel have to exercise restraint and morality, putting our citizens and beloved IDF sons, brothers and fathers in mortal danger to satisfy the whims of a hostile and morally corrupt world?
Just to answer the question I posed earlier about getting elderly or physically challenged family members to safety: I know personally of a sister-in-law of a family member who, indeed, during the Cast Lead Operation, lost her life in exactly this way. While struggling to quickly enter a shelter, she struck her head and later died of her injury. Would you be prepared to live like this?