Living in the Israeli Red Zone

This is cross posted by Israelinurse at OyVaGoy

This isn’t a post about bank overdrafts or even the dismal state of the drought-hit water level of the Sea of Galilee. It’s a tiny glimpse into the realities of Israeli life.

Last week we received our copy of the IDF Home Front Command’s new booklet distributed to every household in Israel on the subject of how to be prepared in the event of Israel coming under attack.

To most of us this isn’t new information, but of course we have many new immigrants who are less familiar with such situations and even for those of us who have been in such scenarios several times, it’s always useful to remind ourselves what to do in an emergency.

The booklet includes information on the choices of shelter available during an air-raid warning and the criteria for selecting a room in one’s house as the ‘safe room’ if one does not live in a building constructed since it became law to include an air-raid shelter in one’s building plans some 20 years ago.

The safe room should not be on a top storey and should have the minimum number possible of outside walls, windows and doors. Kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms are not suitable because of the risk of injury from shattering tiles or ceramic sinks and suchlike. Residents of the area around Gaza should choose a room in the part of the house as far away as possible from the direction of fire.

There’s advice on what to have prepared in advance in the safe room such as 4 litres of bottled water per person per day and food sealed in tin cans to prevent contamination as well as a first-aid kit, a torch, a fire extinguisher and communications equipment so as to be able to keep updated. In addition, it is recommended to have all the family’s important papers  such as identity cards, medical records and financial documents copied and kept in the safe room, as well as another copy kept safely outside the house as back-up.

It is also advised to have a bag ready for each family member containing clothes and personal effects in case of the need for evacuation, also including medications, money, and baby gear where necessary.

Equipment for sealing off the safe room in the event of chemical or biological attacks includes sheets of polyethylene of at least 100 microns thickness and sticky tape of 30 microns thickness and 50 mms width.

There’s also a map which indicates the length of time which the early warning systems will provide in the event of missile attacks.

For the pale green area directly surrounding the Gaza Strip, including Sderot: 15 seconds.

For the pale blue area after that, including Ashkelon: 30 seconds.

For the purple zone, including Ashdod: 45 seconds.

For the darker green area after that, which includes Be’er Sheva: 60 seconds.

The darker orange region which includes Dimona and Jerusalem: 3 minutes.

The paler orange region including Tel Aviv and Netanya: 2 minutes.

The beige area including Hadera and Haifa: 60 seconds.

The yellow area which includes Haifa, Nazareth and Tzfat: 30 seconds.

And finally my region – the red one – which doesn’t have a time-frame; it just says ‘immediate entry to refuge’.

So next time some Hamas or Hizbollah apologist tells you about the ‘home-made rockets’ or ‘firecrackers’, ask them to close their eyes and count to 15, imagining that this is the maximum time available to them to gather up their children, pets or ageing relatives and get them to relative safety.

Which child would they grab first? How would they negotiate the stairs if they lived in a top-storey apartment? How would they cope with disabled, blind or deaf members of the family? What if they were at work and their children home alone?

To them it will still remain a theoretical exercise, but for millions of Israelis these are just some of the real questions which have to be answered; real decisions which have to be made – in a matter of seconds.

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