Dozens of kids from southern Israel attended a meeting held by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with dozens of foreign diplomats in Ashkelon, as they told the diplomats what it was really like to grow up with thousands of rockets being fired at them any time of day or night. Speaking at the event was Netanyahu himself, as well as a student in a Negev university, who talked about the nuances of living under the threat of terror on a minute by minute basis.
“Every sound we hear might be a bomb or an alarm,” the student, Paz Azran, told the diplomats. “When there is an alarm, the only thing we can think about is getting to a shelter. I have to think twice before taking a shower, or even walking down the street. Where you see a building, I see a bomb shelter,” one that she might have to take refuge in at any moment, Azran said.
“Living like this is very hard for anyone of any age, especially students,” said the 17 year old, pointing out how difficult it was to concentrate on studies, or anything else. “We live like this every day, knowing that any second a rocket could hit us.” Azran said that the Iron Dome system, which has the ability to shoot rockets out of the sky, helps somewhat – but many rockets get past it anyway, striking targets anytime day or night, Azran told the diplomats.
Azran ask the diplomats to do what the could to restore quiet to their lives. “We're not from the government,” she said. “We 're just kids telling our story. If there's anything you can do we would be very appreciative.”
Attending the event was John Daly, a resident of Ashkelon, who found the experience refreshing. In his speech, Netanyahu described the experiences of residents of the south. "If an alarm is sounded, all of us have exactly 30 seconds to find shelter. This is the situation in which one million Israelis find themselves in. That’s families, old people, children, babies – Including like the children who stand here. A million Israelis, including many little children,are targeted on a daily basis, by people who took areas that we vacated, that the Government of Israel vacated, came in there, and are now hiding behind civilians, while firing on civilians, firing on our children,” the Prime Minister said.
Daly said that Netanyahu had made an “amazing” presentation. “He wanted them all to 'feel' what it was like being within rocket range of Gaza. The looks on their hundreds of faces when he smiled and said, 'if an alarm went off now, you would all have 30 seconds to find shelter' was priceless. Even more moving was that after he said it, he pointed to a small group of us local citizens and said 'welcome to their daily lives.'”
What most impressed Daly was the fact that Netanyahu had gathered the diplomats for a meeting in the midst of the war zone. “Other world leaders visit disaster areas after there has been a problem - no presidents have ever gone and ridden out a storm along with the residents, they visit afterwards. Ours came to us and brought the representatives of the world with him,” Daly added.