07:00 GMT21 April 2021
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    Earlier in the day, Baha Abu al-Ata, commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) Al-Quds Brigades, was killed as a result of an Israeli airstrike on his home. Shortly thereafter, dozens of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, with only about 20 being intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

    Yekaterina Horwitz, who resides in Kfar Aza, a Jewish kibbutz located several fields away from the 1950 armistice agreement line which separates the seaside Palestinian exclave of Gaza from Israel, has shared her opinion on the situation in the restive Gaza Strip.

    Her comments come shortly after the Israeli military registered about 50 rockets fired from the enclave, soon after the killing of a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, Baha Abu Al-Ata, in an Israeli strike.

    Sputnik: Where were you when everything started?

    Yekaterina Horwitz: We were asleep when everything started at 5 a.m. local time. We received alerts saying that we need to either go to a bomb shelter or leave the place.

    Sputnik: What were your first actions?

    Yekaterina Horwitz: We started discussing it with my husband; we tried to figure out whether we should stay or leave Kfar Aza. We literally live on the border here. My husband said that he received alerts that all kindergartens and schools were closed due to the situation. We have three kids so we needed to do something. They cannot simply spend the entire day in a bomb shelter. At around 6 a.m. they (Gaza militants) started firing rockets. We could hear helicopters above our home. At 6.30 a.m. our red alert app was activated and we all rushed to a bomb shelter. 

    Our WhatsApp groups were packed with messages. Schools and kindergartens sent updates that all their activity was cancelled for the day. We received a flow of information about the situation, including where people can buy food in case they are stuck. We were also informed that a local pharmacy and clinic will be opened during certain hours, just in case there is an emergency. They also gave updates about which roads will be blocked so that if people wanted to flee, they could do that. 

    Sputnik: And you decided to leave?

    Yekaterina Horwitz: Yes, because we don't know how much time it will all go on. We took clothes for several days. We will be staying over with our family in the centre of Israel. If the mess continues, we will probably go somewhere else. Sitting in a room is not an option.

    Sputnik: Are you used to this situation?

    Yekaterina Horwitz: I am not used to it, as we moved here from another country several months ago. It is the first time that we are being informed that it is better to leave. I think that most of the people who reside in the kibbutz are leaving. We also saw our friends and neighbours doing the same thing. 

    Sputnik: How are other people reacting?

    Yekaterina Horwitz: We were just discussing the situation with my husband. My husband thinks that a lot of people are exaggerating, making much ado about nothing, they are panicking. But the majority of people are reacting calmly. The elderly people, for example, are reacting calmly to the situation. The parents of my husband are staying in the kibbutz. They don't care. For them, it's routine. They are even planning to go to work. Kids are also reacting to this quite calmly, but they don't necessarily understand what's going on. However, our youngest daughter has just received a book from her school called We Breathe Together  - I haven't read it yet but I assume it is a book about how to help kids tackle panic attacks. People are trying to get used to it but for us it is difficult. We were joking earlier today, saying that if the situation is not over by tomorrow, we will be going to Spain for vacation. 

    Sputnik: Was it the right decision for Israel to react?

    Yekaterina Horwitz: Israel has always reacted. I don't think that it was quiet in the past. We hear the exchange of fire on almost a daily basis. We are located very close to Gaza and we even wake up at night. We hear explosions all the time. I don't understand much about Israeli politics but I can tell you that people who live on the border next to Gaza are heroes. I don't know who is right or who is wrong but living under constant shelling is extremely difficult. 

    We came to live in Israel knowing it is a hot spot, but I now doubt that I will be able to live with this. I see people in the kibbutz building houses. How can they do it, knowing that you have a fence with Gaza next to you?

    Sputnik: Didn't you know what the situation was like before you went there?

    Yekaterina Horwitz: I heard about it, but I never understood it in full. I thought it was much lighter. I thought we could go about our lives unnoticed, but now I realise it is impossible. The most difficult part for me is to hear all the explosions and then wake up in the morning and go to work as if nothing has happened. 

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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