Skip to main content

R. N., 57, who lives in Ashdod, southern Israel, describes life in constant fear of rocket fire

We've suffered from rocket fire since Operation Cast Lead in 2009, maybe even before – I can't really remember. When things are calm I'm not afraid, but at times like these, I'm afraid because we can't hear the alarm. I complained to the Home Front Command about it, but they haven't fixed it. I can't go to sleep and leave the radio on the "quiet wave" [a channel that only broadcasts rocket alarms] or leave a cellphone application running, because they'll wake me every time a rocket is fired, not only at Ashdod. I can't sleep properly and feel tired all the time.

A rocket once fell close to our home and the alarm didn't go off. I was on the porch and heard the rocket whistling. I froze and couldn't move. It was only thanks to my dog running away that I responded and went inside. I remember an explosion and then I panicked. I sat down on the stairs and couldn't go any further, from the living room to the floor below. I think I had an anxiety attack. I could speak but I was shaking.

When I go to work, I drive a friend of mine, because she's too scared to drive. I'm a bit braver but we're always on our toes: should we leave now or later. We decide to take our chances and leave and I drive as fast as I can, always thinking about where I can stop if it catches me on the way. We're really scared to go outside. The city is a ghost town and we only shop for essentials. The rest of the time, I'm at home.

It affects the entire family. Everything is carefully planned. If someone goes to shower or use the toilet, he lets everyone know. I don't have small kids at home. My second son and his wife live with me. She's pregnant and it's really affecting her. She's very anxious and I have to calm her down.

It's very hard. You can't relax, you can't have any quiet time, and it's usually better not to watch the news because the media exaggerates everything. On the other hand, you don't feel like going out to a movie. The media could help people by broadcasting more entertainment shows, comedies, lighter stuff. Instead, their endless analysis weighs on us, until we can't listen to it any more. We're tense all the time.

R. N., 57, is a married mother of three who lives in Ashdod, southern Israel. She gave her testimony by phone to Roi Grufi on 15 July 2014.