OPINION: The safe room last night
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OPINION: The safe room last night

Stefan Kerner, a British Oleh, reflects on spending a night in a bomb shelter while rockets rained down

Emergency service workers look through the rubble of a house struck by a Hamas rocket. 

Images: Credit ZAKA
Emergency service workers look through the rubble of a house struck by a Hamas rocket. Images: Credit ZAKA

We were expecting the rockets and had prepared for it; who would get which child and what we needed to have in the safe room for when the sirens sounded and so on.

But when it actually came, nothing could quite describe the feeling.

It wasn’t fear of being hit by a rocket or anything like that. For the first time I really felt what it was like to feel genuine fear for the safety of my children.

Luckily, my youngest two fell asleep very quickly, but my five year old was wide awake and aware that something was not right. How do you answer a 5 year old boy when he asks you why we have had to all rush into the spare room and what those big bangs outside were? Living in North West London doesn’t prepare you for that.

We chose honesty with a little sugar coating. Very calmly we explain that we were being well protected by Israel’s army and that we are only in the room to be extra safe.

Stefan Kerner

Putting on a brave face and maintaining a smile helped relax him and soon he too had fallen asleep. After a while my wife and I returned to our room, leaving the children to sleep in the safe room.

A few hours later, the sirens sounded again and we got up to go to the children. Unbeknownst to us, our boy had earlier climbed into our bed.

This time we didn’t need to pick him up though. He woke up on his own and started walking to the safe room, at the same time telling us to keep quiet so as not to wake up his younger siblings.

The morning was spent answering his questions about Iron Dome rather than the usual kids’ stuff. His siblings remained blissful unaware of what they had been through during the night.

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