I've lived in Ashkelon for six years now. I live with my four children in a state-subsidized building.
The bomb shelter in our building is locked because of a disagreement between some tenants. We asked the municipality to open it and contacted the city hotline about it, but no one did a thing. It was the same in Operation Pillar of Defense [in 2012]. When I visited my mother, who lives in south Ashkelon, we broke the lock on their building's shelter and found it in terrible condition. There was no way you could stay inside. There were mice everywhere and the sink was broken. We heard that some neighbors in the area had the same problem. They went to the mayor and he made sure their shelter was cleaned and fixed. No one did that for my mother's building, and the shelter can't be used. Public shelters in the city have air-conditioning, decent furniture and activities for children. That's great for whoever can make it there, but we live too far away and have to stay home.
Now, during the operation, I stay at home with my four kids, day and night. When the siren goes off, we leave our apartment and gather in the staircase. We hear and see rockets being diverted [by Israel's "Iron Dome" defense system] or hitting targets very close to us. Every explosion makes the whole building shake. The children are afraid to sleep in their rooms and insist on staying in the living room with me all night. Even if they do manage to fall asleep, they take turns staying awake "on guard". My eldest daughter , who is eleven, hasn't slept for two nights running. I can't leave them alone like that, so I only pop out on short errands, usually to the nearest grocery store. My daughter was supposed to go to summer camp but it was cancelled because of the security situation.
I hope this will be over soon and we can go back to our daily lives. I mean really go back to normal, not just a ceasefire, because even with a ceasefire, there are still Qassam rockets. I hope we'll still get to have fun with the children before their school holiday ends. I want us to have a bit of quiet time together.
Ety Levy, 30, is disabled and a single mother of four living in Ashkelon. She gave her testimony to Yuval Drier Shilo by phone on 15 July 2014.