Blaring sirens warn students of more rockets from Gaza

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Sirens blare in my head.  Realizing this is not a drill, I jump out of bed and dash to the closest bomb shelter. Within seconds, the room fills with American, Canadian and Israeli students, all here in fear for their lives. Boom one, that was close … boom two, that was closer … wait for it … boom three.  I hope no one was hurt.  This is when the phones began to ring.  Listening to hysterical Jewish mothers, and even frantic fathers, it’s now the child’s role to calm the parents.

Two hundred thousand children didn’t go to school today. All were homebound with beleaguered parents trying to keep their kids occupied while minimizing the psychological damage from the constant air-raid sirens and bombs dropping all around them. Yesterday, a school was hit.  Thank God it had already been evacuated.

I refuse to be afraid, for that is the terrorists’ goal. I’ll be safe, that’s all I can do. But I cannot deny that every time that siren goes off, my heart drops. This happens not only with the air-raid siren, but also with any remotely similar sound, when a sort of phantom siren goes off. Whether it’s a whistle, or a car driving by, we all jump, anticipating the siren.

I can hear the bombs dropping all around us.  Although they aren’t close enough for our siren to go off, we can hear the screaming sirens from the cities around us. After making sure the sound is not ours, we go outside to watch and see if Iron Dome will catch the rockets this time. If we’re lucky, we might see some fireworks.

But for now, helpless, all I can do is sit here in the bomb shelter and wait for the piercing siren to stop. We wait to hear the booms because, ironically, that’s the most calming sound. That’s when we know that the bombs have landed and we are momentarily safe.

Feeling the shock wave from a nearby bomb, it boggles my mind how crazy this situation is. America would never allow this to happen at its borders. Imagine if Mexico were bombing San Diego! Momentarily, I hope to wake up, thinking this is just a bad dream.

But I still would rather not be in any other place. Israel is home, and I will not allow anyone to take that from me. Netanyahu, do something! President Obama, help us!

The area I’m living in is now quiet. There have been at least nine rockets shot into Israel since the most recent attempt at a cease-fire a few hours ago. Cities like Sderot are still suffering the trauma of being showered by rockets. I have been told that in Sderot, the Israeli city on the Gaza border that has endured daily rocket attacks for more than 10 years, 86 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds wet their beds and 93 percent of 7- to 11-year-olds don’t play outside.

We should not be expected to live like this. If this is peace, I do not want to know what war is.

Jonah S. Keyak, 18, is a graduate of San Francisco’s Jewish Community High School of the Bay and is spending the academic year at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh in Israel, about 25 miles north of the Gaza Strip. This fall he will be a sophomore at Yeshiva University in New York.