These Intense Images Sum Up the Mood in Israel Right Now
In a war that began after three Israeli teenagers and one Palestinian teenager were murdered by terrorists on both sides, at least 2,000 airstrikes on Gaza, 1,300 rockets on Israel, 267 Palestinian deaths and two Israeli deaths have occurred over the past 11 days of Operation Protective Edge.
As Hamas has rejected a cease-fire proposal and Israel has launched a ground offensive in Gaza, the operation is only bound to become more deadly.
Unless you are close to the Gaza border region or in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area, it's been mostly quiet. This was the scene on Friday in Modi'in, in central Israel.
Image Credit: Laura Rosbrow
But then, without warning, rocket sirens blare through the peace.
Speaking as an American-Israeli living in Israel right now, these images sum up the mood here since the operation began.
1. Rockets and attempted infiltrations.
Smoke from rockets fired from a northern neighborhood of Gaza City is seen after being launched toward Israel. Image Credit: Getty
More than 100 rockets on average have hit Israel each day since the operation began. The "hot zones" are in the south around the Gaza border and in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area.
In addition to rockets, Hamas terrorists have also tried infiltrating into Israel, possibly in an attempt to abduct an Israeli as they did with Gilad Schalit in 2006. In 2011, Hamas released him in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. The largest infiltration occurred on Thursday morning.
2. Running for cover.
All around the country Israelis have been running (or walking) for cover during the sirens. Here is a crowd of Tel Avivians crouching down in broad daylight:
3. The Iron Dome.
The Israeli missile defense shield has had an 85% success rate, and without it, the Israeli death toll would likely be significantly higher. It intercepts rockets and missiles headed toward densely populated areas.
Here is a video of an Iron Dome interception over the Asrieli mall in downtown Tel Aviv:
4. Waiting for fragments to fall.
Even if you hear the "boom," signifying that there was an Iron Dome interception, fragments of the rocket can still hit you. For this reason, Israelis are advised to stay in a safe place for 10 minutes before leaving.
Below are fragments from a rocket in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon on Sunday.
Image Credit: Israel Police/Twitter, via Times of Israel
5. Bomb shelter selfies.
Israelis often have a dark sense of humor to cope with times of conflict. Many have started posting "bomb shelter selfies" on Facebook. Part of this is for amusement, as a way to show Hamas that it can't scare them.
6. Helping kids cope.
In an Israeli survey released during Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, almost half of Israeli middle schoolers in Sderot — a Gaza border town that's been directly affected by Gazan rockets for 14 years — exhibited signs of PTSD.
This chilling video shows teachers preparing schoolchildren in the South of Israel for rocket fire through song:
7. Divisions about entering Gaza.
While 53% of Israelis polled on Tuesday were against a cease-fire with Hamas, 92% still said they did not believe this operation would end rocket fire from Gaza.
These two pictures capture feelings on both ends of the Israeli political spectrum:
Image Credit: Ynet News
This is a co-existence protest of Jews and Arabs in Haifa calling for an end to Israeli-Palestinian violence that took place on July 5, soon before the operation began. These protests have cropped up a few times around the country in major cities including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa.
And then, there was this viral catastrophe:
This now famous "Sderot cinema" photo is disturbing — this is how 14 years of near-constant rocket fire dehumanizes Sderot residents.
8. Mourning the dead.
Israel has not sustained huge losses of life so far because of the military's efforts and the Iron Dome, but it has lost two citizens.
The first, Dror Khenin, 37, was killed Tuesday near the Gaza border after he suffered a direct hit from a mortar launched by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Image Credit: Times of Israel
The second was killed in the fighting overnight: Sgt. Eitan Barak, who was just 20 years old.