Testimony: Life in Kibbutz Zikim in the shadow of rockets from Gaza

Adva Yehudai, a 16-year-old girl from Kibbutz Zikim

The testimony was taken by Noam Raz on 17 Nov. '12, at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel in central Israel, to which young people from the Shikma School were moved for the duration of the Pillar of Defense campaign.

When I am at home and there is a "Code Red" Alert, I run straight to the secure room and call my mother (my parents are divorced and I live with my mother). I close the door and put my hands over my head and wait. In the secure rooms in people’s homes, there is a pager that sounds to tell us that it’s okay to leave. From the pager we also get messages about where the rocket fell, things like that.

During these times my mother always tries to send calm vibes, but you can see that she’s stressed. We try to maintain a good atmosphere at home, even though nothing is okay around us and we feel the pressure at home.

My mother doesn’t talk with me about feelings or fears. I don’t talk to my friends about it either, because it’s already turned into some kind of normal routine, one that we’re used to and live with. However weird it sounds, we live with this routine of Qassams, so we don’t talk much about it. There’s a "Code Red" Alert, we stop and then we move on.

Once I did experience a really difficult incident with a rocket falling on the kibbutz. One day, about six months ago, I was alone at home and standing near the window and suddenly I heard a whistling and an insane boom and I could feel the shock wave there at the window. There was no Red Alert beforehand. So I just ran to the secure room and began screaming and I couldn’t stand up and the Qassam had landed next to the neighbor’s house. That was a horrifying moment, and even now I tremble a little when I talk about it.

After that incident, the school counselor talked with me. But I didn’t get any psychotherapy. I didn’t want to.

I have a few friends from the kibbutz who were injured by Qassam rockets and about two years ago my house was hit when a Qassam fell in our yard. We weren’t home at the time and we discovered it only afterwards. My neighbors, a mother and her son who was two or three years old were at home at the time. It must have been really traumatic for the child.

From all the rockets that we had falling on the kibbutz and the people who were hurt and the houses and property, you become indifferent to it. We don’t know anything different. During quiet periods, it feels strange. I don’t think this will end one day. Right now my mother is still on the kibbutz. A lot of the adults have stayed on the kibbutz because they have nowhere else to go.

Testimony of Adva Yehudai, a 16-year-old high school student from Kibbutz Zikim in southern Israel. The testimony was taken by Noam Raz on 17 November 2012.

Concerning testimonies about the "Pillar of Defense" campaign:

With the current military campaign ongoing, B’Tselem is taking testimony from Gaza residents, mainly by telephone. B’Tselem verifies, to the best of its ability, the reliability and precision of the information reported; nevertheless, in these circumstances, reports may be incomplete or contain errors. Given the urgency of informing the public about events in Gaza, B’Tselem has decided to publish the information now available. When the military campaign ends, B’Tselem will supplement these reports as needed.