What If…..

I had some errands to run today in the neighbourhood commercial centre.  It’s a ten to fifteen minute walk from there back to my home. Usually, I take my time on the way back, often stopping on the way to admire the view, or to take pictures of the birds in the trees that line the road, or the flowers that grow by the wayside, even struggling out of the cracks between the paving stones.

20140318_160148 Bird in a tree, corner of Dov Gruner Street


P1020103 Crow in Olei Hagardom Street

20140424_131025 Flora in Rechov Olei Hagardom, near the supermarket

20140507_180423 Flowers by the roadside, Rechov Dov Gruner










Today, however, was different.  I was anxious to be home – where, in the event of a Code Red alert, I could quickly make my way to the relative safety of the bomb shelter. As I walked down a road which now seemed endless, instead of admiring the flora and fauna by the wayside, I found myself checking out possible places of shelter along my route, places I could reach within 90 seconds, should the sirens start their banshee wailing. Here, I could duck into an apartment block on the same side of the street – always assuming the entrance door was unlocked or that one of the residents would be home and near the intercom, and would open the door for me.  Further along, I would have to drop my shopping bags, dash across the road and seek shelter in one of the buildings on the other side of the street. Would I be able to make it in 90 seconds, especially in the shoes I was wearing which were not exactly “made for walking”- or, at least, for running?

The last hundred yards before the turnoff from the main road to my own  street were particularly nightmarish, as there are no buildings directly on the road. What is it they tell you to do in such circumstances? Lie down and cover your head? Or is it crouch down against a wall? I couldn’t remember.

Fortunately, before I had time to worry myself into a panic, I reached the turnoff. From there, it’s only two minutes walk to my own home, with several other possible places of relative safety on the way. As I walked into my apartment, where I was warmly greeted by my cats, I realised how lucky I was that I am still young enough and fit enough to be able to run, and that I have a whole minute and a half in which to do it. What if I were an elderly or handicapped person, or bedridden, and living in Sderot, where they have only 15 seconds to reach shelter?


We were lucky today, in Jerusalem. We have had two whole days without a Code Red alert. Much of the rest of the country was not so fortunate. Beersheba was targeted several times – and in the surrounding area, two little Bedouin girls, sisters, aged 13 and 11, were seriously wounded. The younger is in intensive care, having been wounded by a rocket fragment in her stomach. My aunt, who lives in Ashkelon, had lost count of the number of times she had had to race for cover (insofar as she is able to “race” – she is 85 years old) by the time I spoke to her on the phone early this evening.

However, now there is talk on the radio and television of a ceasefire. Yes, John Kerry and Tony Blair and all the rest are about to descend upon us. Where the hell were they in the week immediately preceding the start of Operation Protective Edge, when as many as 70 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip in the course of a single day?

But now that Israel is defending herself – the whole world is falling over itself to broker a ceasefire.

Just like last time.

And the time before.

What is it they say?

Plus ça change and all that… ?





About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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13 Responses to What If…..

  1. David Allon says:

    Thanks for the vivid description of how a normal sane person becomes panic stricken…

    I am glad no video reds for you and hope that soon no code reds at all.

    I feel that you share my concern that this ceasefire will be like the last one. I.e., will last only for a few months, or, if we are lucky, some years.

    • The “ceasefire” in the wake of Operation Cast Lead (27/12/08 – 18/1/09) lasted almost four years – although it was violated by Hamas from the very start with a steady “drizzle” of rockets on the towns in Israel’s south, especially those closest to Gaza, such as Sderot. You wouldn’t have read about these in the western media, since Israel displayed exemplary restraint – not that the world gave us any credit for that. Eventually, however, Israel was forced to respond, leading to Operation Pillar of Defence (November 2012). The “ceasefire” which ended that operation (although it did NOT put an end to Hamas and Islamic Jihad rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets) hasn’t even held up for two years. In each case, although the number of rocket attacks by Hamas was greatly reduced during the so-called “ceasefire”, they never completely stopped. In each case, Hamas used the breathing-space to stock up on more, and ever deadlier, weapons, with a greater range.
      So no, I don’t hold out any great hope for this “ceasefire” – IF it happens…

      • David Allon says:

        It looks more and more like a ploy, this ceasefire. Israel accepts, Hamas don’t, so Israel will have even more international backing for additional activities,after the ceasefire collapses. It’s a gamble. We’ll see tonight after21:00

      • That would be the logical way of looking at it, but don’t look for logic in the Middle East. We’ll be blamed for whatever happens.

    • Peter says:

      Oh no, Israel has done it again. Sadly it came just as I have predicted a few weeks ago: Israel gives away vrotciy even though it has it in her hands. When will they learn that there will never be peace unless you crush your enemy completely. There have been a myriad of agreements , truces , unilateral this and thats, since Israel was founded. It never ever worked. These periods of calm were only used by Israel’s enemies to rearm, regroup and concoct new terror schemes. They were always followed by more Israeli victims. I read right now in the news that 8 Hamas missiles have hit Israeli soil since the cease-fire went into effect. Wonderful. It must be so frustrating to be an IDF soldier, every time they are winning, their own political leadership ties their hands. Now, let’s see how this will go on. The IDF will be pulled back, those big-mouthed European politicians currently in Egypt will all breath a sigh of relief that their Hamas friends have not been completely wiped out, they will shovel tons of money to Gaza to clean up the debris, so that Hamas and Fatah can concentrate on rearming and regrouping. Latest in 6 months Hamas will be at least as strong as it has been before this war and latest then the next innocent Israelis will die. And if it is not Hamas, then it will be some other group. It doesn’t really matter how they call themselves. It will be mostly the same people who fire the missiles, they don’t really care for whom they do that. Like in Lebanon a few years ago, Olmert again has given away vrotciy. What a shame.

  2. Carolyn says:

    But we know that is not what the other side want. We know what they want and no world leader or a Blair or a Kerry is going to broker anything that’s will stop the senseless missile firing from Gaza and Lebanon.

    • Carolyn, see my reply to David Allon, above. Hamas will, sooner or later, “agree” to a so-called “ceasefire”, because they are getting clobbered and need a breathing-space, in which to stock up on more weapons. They’re already getting more “professional” weapons, probably from Iran, which can now reach almost every town and city in Israel.

    • Alex says:

      Lynne, that is exactly my point. Israel must not be ineulencfd by the hatred the Europeans and basically all the rest of the world has for her. It must not succumb to that kind of silly pressure, because the world could care less if Israel would be wiped off the map tomorrow. Yeah, they all would lament then, like they did after WWII for the poor Jews, but that’s it. Israel’s security will be maintained not by any European and not by Obama and nobody else. The only friends Israel has, and they have so far been pretty reliable, are the United States. But like we Americans would be very ill-advised to care about the rest of the world when it comes to our security, Israel would be suicidal if it relied on Europe. Look at what has happened in the last 8 years: if we Americans would have listened to the world we would not have reacted on 9/11 and Osama bin Laden would still freely roam within Afghanistan which would still be ruled by the Taliban and you can bet there would have been more devastating terror attacks on our country. Israel must tune out the stupid chatter of the world and must do whatever is necessary to keep her people safe. The Roman emperor Caligula (admittedly not the best emperor they had) had a pretty good motto: Oderint dum metuant: May they hate me, as long as they fear me . That’s the attitude Israel must display. And stopping just an inch before destroying Hamas for good is not a smart move. As you say, they will rearm.

  3. Chrissie says:

    I knew that we’d see some movement after the “protests” in Paris yesterday, Shimona. It’s clear that large city centers in Europe have seen an influx of Muslims for precisely this purpose-to stage “demonstrations” that will become violent if the powers-that-be don’t intervene and shake their collective fingers at Israel-again-for her “aggression” and “war-mongering”.

    • Hi again, Chrissie.
      What we saw in Paris was not a “protest” but a pogrom. Jews (not Israelis) besieged in their synagogue, attacked with crowbars and firebombs. Jewish (not Israeli) shops attacked and burned. The rioters shouted “Death to the Jews” (not “Death to the Zionists”).
      These are the same Muslim immigrants whom we saw in other TV reports, burning the French flag on the eve of Bastille Day.
      And the police, according to witness reports, waiting for hours before intervening.

  4. Mary says:

    It is now much worse, I am sad to say.Since the Jews discovered God and the moral law they are attacked by the same sort of people who attack anything good… this was said by a Catholic Bishop

  5. GreatGranny says:

    I knew that I ‘d get more accurate news here. I don’t have cable anymore. I pray that you all and your family are kept safe.

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