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From the field

Qassam rocket lands in Kibbutz Nir Am, southern Israel, 19 November 2012

Alex Ya’akobov, 26, a resident Kibbutz Nir Am in southern Israel, a film student at Sapir College, gave B’Tselem an eyewitness account of a Qassam rocket landing at Kibbutz Nir Am on Monday, 19 November 2012. He described what his life was like during Operation Pillar of Defense:

At about eight o’clock in the morning, three sirens woke me up. I live in a trailer home and it has no secure room. The trailer park is the students’ neighborhood and it’s located in the most remote section of the kibbutz. A portable bomb shelter [migunit] was placed near the homes. It’s a reinforced cube of 2 X 2 meters, but it’s far from my house and has no electricity, so I don’t usually go there during an alert. The thought of being in that tiny, dark shelter when a Qassam rocket falls frightens me more than being at home. I looked out the window just as a Qassam landed about 20 meters away. The windows shattered and the whole house shook. I went outside. I was pretty much in a panic because I’d only just woken up and the rocket was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes.

I went outside and went to the nearest migunit. There were a few more sirens. Then I went out to see the Qassam. There was another siren and another Qassam fell on the kibbutz, but somewhere else.

During one of the sirens that day, I was with a few other students in the migunit. Even when the sirens stopped, we didn’t want to leave. It looked like a support group. We stayed together in the small, dark migunit and just stood there for 20 minutes after the sirens stopped, just standing and talking. It was as if we were trying to bring ourselves back to normal daily living.

Everything is scary now. The tension and vigilance isn’t reasonable. For example, later that day, I went to my parents in the nearby town of Dimona, to celebrate my sister’s birthday. On the way there I heard a bus braking and I instinctively crouched. About ten hours after the Qassam fell [near my house], I heard a door slam and right away I was on guard. The door slamming was the only thing I heard, out of everything else happening around me. The brain is continually in alert mode. Our situation here in Nir Am and in the town of Sderot is like in wartime.

In the evening I went back to Nir Am, because the coffee shop I work at wouldn’t cancel my shift. In the end I didn’t go in for my shift. I talked with the manager at the coffee shop and told him I couldn’t come because I’d be in mortal danger coming in to the shift. He said that he understood the situation and let me off.