Reality in Ashkelon


Below is a personal story from Ingrid Aria, sharing her experiences from Operation Pillar of Defense:   

Ingrid Aria (Photo: Courtesy)
Baruch Hashem I am "ok."
There are no words. Life has gone from relatively normal to completely upside down since last Wednesday evening.
I don''t know where to begin to share with you what is going on here.
I don''t know how to share with you my experience without revealing my disgust for other nations, without expressing my political beliefs, without feeling the dire need to say, "Israel is finally acting on her irrevocable right to protect and defend her citizens." If there wasn''t such pressure from foreign governments, if there wasn''t so much over-involvement from other heads of states. This is personal and this is political; it''s local and it''s global.
I don''t know how to share with you that we are dealing with - something that looks, talks, walks and dresses fairly human, but is not. There is no heart, there is no soul, and there is no moral compass to be found within Hamas and all those who support them. They cannot be doing this in an effort to advance their own people and national wishes as they literally shield themselves behind babies, children, mothers, and families.
I don''t know how to share with you my feelings of alienation by the rest of the world, and even feeling alienated to a degree from the rest of Israelis as a resident of the South. An American friend of mine asked if I think things will be open and normal here tomorrow (I''m currently in Jerusalem). I had to tell her that we don''t know what will be, that yes, even life in Jerusalem, which so often lately feels like a "little America," will be affected. So you can support Israel and shout "Am Yisrael Chai!" from the sidelines with conviction, love, and devotion until you can''t get your manicure when expected?
I can''t explain to you what it is like to try to pretend that Shabbat is normal, eating with a dear beloved friend and her family (her brother was just called up to reserves- please pray for him and his safety as he''s planning to get married in 3 months).
There was a siren in Jerusalem Friday night. Coming from Ashkelon, a city that has been under siege with rocket fire since Wednesday (but really, as the rest of the South, for the past 12 years), I recognized what the sound was right away, but had to pause for a half second.  It followed me here? A moment of disbelief.
I can''t tell you how it feels to have one foot in normal life and the other foot prepared to run for my life at any second to take cover.   We live in trauma here. Even when it''s normal in Israel, I still have a safe room (like a personal mini bomb shelter) in my apartment. I still have a gas mask with my name on it that the government provided me. We still go through metal detectors daily to enter bus stations and shopping malls; there are armed guards at coffee houses. There is mandatory military service for all, boys and girls with baby faces from ages 18-20/21. There is yearly reserve duty for men where they must leave their family lives for about one month a year to reenter military life, preparing and protecting. We are in a constant mentality of war, even if it just sits as a thought bobbing up and down in the back of our minds.
Leaving doesn''t resolve this. Giving over land doesn''t resolve this. The land that is now Gaza that was given over to those bombing us in 2005 is now where they launch their missiles. Why weren''t they satisfied with getting what they were shouting for? Wasn''t receiving carte blanche what they said their mission was all about? But their intentions are otherwise.
I can''t explain to you why there is such hate. I am not interested in hearing your two cents from overseas. That''s not personal, it''s just what it is. The opinions and intellectual debates of observers carry no weight. Until you live here and can relate to our version of normal, just send good vibes. Envision a world where all people everywhere wake up in the morning with a mission worth living for. A mission to heal, progress and uplift humanity and the world. Amen.
Ingrid Aria is an olah chadashah from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. She chose Ashkelon as her city, with its beautiful coastline and down to earth vibe. When not dodging bombs, you can find Ingrid teaching yoga to the masses in both Ashkelon and Jerusalem. She''d love to connect with you: