Hi, my name is Koby.
I am just a normal every day Israeli. I am 36 years old, married and father to two little girls: a 3-year-old and an 8 months old baby.
We live in Ashdod, a 250,000 people town, just 25 minutes drive south of Tel Aviv.
Ashdod is located on the Mediterranean beach and has a wonderful white sand beach. On our spare time we love going to the beach, swim, have a coffee in a trendy coffee shop, enjoy the sea view or let the kids play on the beach.
I guess some of you heard something of Israel and my guess is that probably this something is not so nice. So I decided to just tell you a few things about me and my life, and maybe through my story, give you another perspective of my country and the life of Israelis.
My both parents came to Israel from different places. My father is from Iran and my mother from Russia. They met here, In Ashdod. They both encountered the difficulties of a newcomer to a new country and had to adjust to new and unfamiliar society. I guess they both acclimatized pretty well. My mom became a high school teacher, my dad a real estate entrepreneur.
As a kid, I remember we had friends from Gaza – The Arab Contractors that were working with my dad. They used to come to our house and we would have lunch together – my mom always enjoyed their compliments for her cooking. We would speak about work, and about growing children, weddings and laugh together.
I remember the road from Gaza to Ashdod, every morning thousands of cars from Gaza packed with as much people a Peugeot 404 can contain were coming into Israel to start they days work. In the evening, they were all going back. On Saturdays my father and our neighbor used to drive to Gaza, to buy food: pigeons, shrimp and broad bean. Our neighbor would make delicacy out of it. These were good days.
And then, the intifada started. Arabs were attacking Israelis everywhere. It was no longer safe to go to Gaza and the border was closed, no Arabs entered Israel. In 1994 with peace talks, we met again for a short time, but then Arabs started to commit suicide bombings in Israeli towns, and they were no longer allowed to enter Israel. We kept in touch with our friends in Gaza for some time. Talking on the telephone, hoping for better days. But these days never came. All ties with Gaza were severed.
On 30 Jan 2001 Arabs started firing mortar shells into Israeli populated communities (Kibbutz and Moshavs). On April 16, 2001, the first rocket was fired into an Israeli town – Sderot, the nearest Israeli town to Gaza. We thought it was just a mistake, a onetime event. But it wasn’t. The Israeli communities around Gaza became a scary place to live in, daily fired at by the Arabs with mortars and rockets. The people in these communities have 15 seconds to hide after a siren is heard. On December 28, 2008 first missiles were fired on my hometown.
I clearly remember that day. It was a Saturday. Me and my brother in law were taking a short trip to the beautiful hills of Beit Shemesh. On our way there we saw many war planes taking off from their air bases. Since it was Saturday, it was weird. Saturday is the Jewish religious day of rest. No work of any kind nor any activity is done on this day, all the more so army activity. I turned on the radio and heard the IAF is retaliating for 60 rockets fired earlier by the Arabs on Israeli towns. I called my wife (she was 6 months pregnant then) and told her to ask our neighbor to immediately open the building’s bomb shelter. I had a very bad feeling.
90 minutes later my wife called me, ”We just had a Siren heard and missiles hit our town, come back” she said. I was shocked. Few days later a missile hit a penthouse apartment in a building just 30 meters from our building.
From 2008 Ashdod suffered numerous missile attacks from Gaza. Between March 9, 2012 and march 13 Israel suffered one of the worst missile attacks ever. Arabs launched more than 300 missiles from Gaza into Israel, many of them hit Ashdod. A Missile hit a store just behind my house, the story even reached the BBC.
This is us running during a missile attack:
This is how it sounds:
I hope our friends in Gaza remember us, that they do not hate us. I do not know what they are teaching their children and grandchildren but I want to hope it is not hate.
Since 2001, more than 12,000 rockets, Missiles & Mortar shells were fired from Gaza into Israeli cities. Every time a siren is heard, We have 45 Seconds to find shelter. Me and my wife have to take the baby and our little 3 years old girl and run for the bomb shelter 2 floors down. Sometimes we are fired at in the middle of the night, when we are sleeping. We are considered lucky – Israelis living closer to Gaza have 15 seconds only.
My 3-year-old has trauma. She shakes in my hands every time a siren is heard. She hugs me and wouldn’t let go for long time. She asks me: ”Dad, why is the siren coming down at us?”. What do you say to your baby when she asks this? That Arabs Hate us and want us dead? How can I explain it to a baby?
No we do not teach our children hate. We teach them hope and love and respect.
Especially in times like this, we tell our girl that it is ok to be afraid, we to afraid. We tell her that as long as we keep the safety provisions we’ll be ok. That’s it. When she will grow up she will decide on her own how to judge the situation we live in.
I am just a regular any day Israeli. This is my story. In case you didn’t hear it on national news, don’t think it didn’t happen. It’s the people telling the story prevented you from hearing it.
Ashdod, Israel.Connect with me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.