Former Stephenville resident talks of danger from rocket attacks

Frank Gale
Published on July 19, 2014

HERZLIYA, ISRAEL — “Crazy here!”

Those were two words that stuck out when a former resident of Stephenville, currently residing in Herzliya, Israel, talked about the risk of danger for her family right now.

Jane Smith, who grew up as Jane Brake, said in an email it’s somewhat unnerving living in Israel at this time, with some rocket bombs getting through.

She said her family members have slightly changed their daily routine to mitigate that risk.

On Monday of this week some Canadian employees and their dependents decided to return to Canada until “this blows over.”

Smith said many have left, especially those with small children, but she did not go as her adult sons William and Gavin and her husband are still there. Their regular place of residence is Orleans in the Ottawa region of Ontario, but they’ve been living in Israel since the fall of 2012.

Remaining Canadian employees can work from home or go to the Canadian Embassy to work, which is totally their own choice. She said some wish to remain home close to their small children or elderly parents.

Smith said it’s difficult for the children to understand why, when a loud air raid siren goes off, they have to run to the little cement room (bomb shelter) in their home. She said most homes are equipped with a bomb shelter and for those that don’t have such a shelter, residents go to the stairwell or behind anything that may provide some protection from a blast.

Both Smith’s sons are currently attending university close to where they live in Herzliya and right now are writing final exams. Herzliya is a city of 70,000 residents, about five kilometres north to Tel-Aviv.

“They are studying under the threat of rocket fire.

“It’s crazy times,” she said.

Smith said when William, her oldest son, was on his way to write an exam one morning this week, his biggest concern was what to do if the air raid sirens sounded. She said when you’re at work or the university, everyone is aware to head to the bomb shelter. Outside, when the alarm sounds, you get behind some kind of barrier for protection.

She said while alone in the car driving to work at the Embassy on Wednesday morning, four rockets were fired at Tel-Aviv from Gaza.

“I pulled over, got out of my vehicle and crouched down between the vehicle and the cement barrier on the side of the road like most of the other commuters,” she said.

Those in the streets heard two huge explosions when Iron Dome intercepted the two of the rockets above them.

According to Wikipedia, Iron Dome is a mobile all-weather air defense system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, designed to intercept and destroy short range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of four kilometres (2.5 miles) to 70 kilometres (43 miles) away and whose trajectory would take them to a populated area.

Israel hopes to increase the range of Iron Dome’s interceptions, from the current maximum of 70 kilometres to 250 kilometres (160 miles).

Smith said Iron Dome is great, but noted it is only 90 per cent successful.

“Eventually I suspect the rockets from Gaza will hit their mark. Should a volley of rockets come at once I wonder if the system can handle it,” she pondered.

Smith believes this type of rocketing will go on until Israel disables Hamas’ ability to fire rockets into Israel or Hamas runs out of rockets.

She said many in Israel are of two minds. She said they want peace for sure and do not want any more injuries on either side of the border. On the other hand if peace occurs, with Hamas still having the ability to fire rockets, it will not end.

“I believe some are willing to risk the dangers of the Israel Defense Force ground offensive to stop the firing of rockets once and for all,” Smith said.

For now, people living where she is stay close to home and do not venture out unless it is for work or the place they are going is equipped with protection in the event of rocket fire.

She said on Thursday there was a humanitarian ceasefire between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to allow residents of Gaza to see to personal needs including food and medical care. At the end of the ceasefire rockets again started to be fired at Israel and the Israel Defense Force was forced to retaliate.