By David Bouskila, former mayor of Sderot
Fifteen seconds is the difference between life and death in Sderot in the Negev desert. Fifteen seconds makes all the difference in the middle of the night when the sirens go off and your four children are sleeping close by.
You have 15 seconds to wake, grab your children and get them to shelter. If you can’t get to your children in time, do you leave them?
Are you meant to choose between your children? Can any parent be expected to make that choice?
Every time a motorbike goes past or a car backfires, everyone in Sderot jumps; we are a town constantly on the edge suffering from PTSD.
This is understandable – in the past 14 years we have had more than 8,000 missiles fired at us. Why do I stay? Why do I encourage my children to stay with their families?
It is because this is our home; this is the place in which I grew up and this is the place in which one day I want to live in peace. It is the children I worry about most. Some think that living with the constant threat of missiles is perfectly normal, that going to a school that is a bomb shelter is just part of their life’s routine.
Organisations such as JNF UK are helping with many projects to ease the children from this conflict’s reality. They have funded various initiatives for the children, including playgrounds, a skate park and community parks, all of which have shelters that are within the required 15-second radius.
This helps improve our quality of life. We are grateful that the diaspora supports us through these difficult times and through calmer times. We are all drained, our children are anxious, the only thing that helps us is our unshattered hope and knowledge that our people are supporting us and doing everything they can to protect us.