On my last day of my trip to Israel, I learn what it means to take cover. It’s Saturday morning, 7.30am and I am about to leave my flat as I want to walk along the beach once more… When I hear sirens. I look at my mobile phone and see a message from my friend: “Do you have a bunker? Hallway? Cellar? You have to go there. There’s a rocket alarm. Heavy shelling from Gaza. NOW.”
I leave my flat and join the other housemates in the staircasel. My heart is pounding up to my throat. The impacts go through marrow and bone. The bang can be felt over a long distance because the Iron Dome makes a hell of a noise when it intercepts the missiles.
After 10 minutes, everyone goes back to their flat. As I am unsure and unexperienced I ask a friend how best to behave: “You have 60-90 seconds after the siren to take cover,” she says. “After you hear BOOM, you wait another 3 minutes and then go back to your flat.” She shares her message very soberly.
Because I have nothing left to eat in the house and my stomach hangs on the ground, I venture out the door to the supermarket with weak knees. An hour later comes the next siren alarm. A rocket hits the neighbourhood Florentine. BOOM… There are casualties. To get some rest, I spend the night in a nearby shelter on my yoga mat. But there is no rest. Every little noise makes me flinch and I am wide awake.
With a very heavy heart, I fly back to Germany on Sunday evening via a diversion. There are now a handful Israelis who are important to me. And it chokes my throat to think of what they are going through. The Dalai Lama once said: The planet no longer needs successful people. The planet desperately needs peacemakers, healers, innovators, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.
Your Holiness, I am volunteering for storytelling and for love.