Estela, 65, who lives in the Eshkol region in southern Israel, described to B’Tselem how a rocket landed in her yard on Saturday, 17 November 2012, the fourth day of Operation Pillar of Defense:
Around midday on Saturday, as I began preparing lunch, there was a Code Red Alert. I went into the secure room and then heard a rocket exploding on impact. I remembered that I had forgotten to turn off the gas because I was in the middle of making lunch. I went back to the kitchen and turned off the gas. I returned to the secure room and then another rocket landed. Once it was quiet for a while, I left the secure room. I’m used to rockets landing because I have lived in this community for 12 years and it happens all the time. I thought to myself, okay, it landed. It seemed to be very close and the explosion was loud, but okay… I wasn't worried.
I headed back to the kitchen to continue making lunch. What a shock! There was a lot of broken glass in the house. Everything in the kitchen had fallen to the floor. Windows had broken and pictures had fallen off the walls. I went into the living room and saw that the windows were broken there too. The bathroom and bedroom were also a wreck. I said to myself, this is mine, it landed here!
I was so unnerved that I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to call the unit that handles this kind of situation in our kibbutz, but I was upset and confused. I didn’t know what to do. A neighbor came in and asked if I was all right. I said yes, I’m okay. My son lives abroad and I had been speaking with him ten minutes earlier on Skype. I told him that I was going to make lunch. I called him back and told him that a rocket landed by my home. He was very upset and asked if I was all right. I said I was, but I was very agitated. The rocket landed in my garden, and neighboring houses were also damaged.
Within minutes, more neighbors began arriving. Then the head of the Eshkol Regional Council and the Minister of Public Security came. I think they must have been touring the area at the time. They were all very nice to me. Soldiers also came and tried to reassure me. Gradually, I calmed down. I wasn't quite back to normal, but I took hold of myself and said, okay, calm down. I called my sister and we decided that it would be better if I went to stay with her because she lives outside the range of the rockets. She came to get me and since then I haven’t been home. It’s hard for me to go back there.
Because of the situation, we are always under the threat of rockets. We try to live normally, but we’re always running this way and that because of the sirens and alerts. We live with this routine, and no one thinks it will happen to them. But now, it actually happened to me. It has happened to many people in my community. Mine is not the first house that's been hit. When it happens to someone else, I feel their pain. But it’s different, it’s impossible to really understand it. Suddenly there I am, saying, my goodness – it's happened to me.
It unbalances you, makes you irrational. Why? What happened? What is this? What have they done to me? I'm very angry at the Palestinians who attack innocent civilians in this way. They are using their children to hurt people. I understand this is a war, but it shouldn't be with civilians and children. I hope that there will be peace. I hope that this won’t end just for a month or two and then start all over again. I want us to have peace and quiet, to live in peace with our neighbors. I understand the other side and that they are suffering too. I want to live in peace with them, but they have to let us live. It’s very hard.
Estela, 65, is a resident of Eshcol region in southern Israel. Her testimony was taken by Miriam Leedor, on 20 Nov. 2012, by telephone.