Israel is under fire. Since Monday at 6 p.m. local Gaza-based Palestinian groups have fired more than 200 rockets into Israeli towns and cities. Dozens of them have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.
In response to the assaults, Israel attacked a number of military sites belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. According to reports, at least 22 people were killed in those assaults. Eight of them were the Islamic group's operatives.
Fear and Panic
Bar-Ilan, a native of Kfar Gaza, located only five kilometres from the Strip, spent the night in a bomb shelter to protect herself from the barrage of rockets emanating from the coastal enclave.
From the moment a missile is launched, it is only a matter of seconds until it lands in her community and Bar-Ilan does not want to take any chances.
"When it all started I was on my way back home. The IDF blocked all roads. I was praying to make it home in time before the first rockets started landing. I was afraid we would be a perfect target if we stand in traffic. I begged the police officer to let me through the checkpoint and once he gave his okay, I drove without stopping".
Bar-Ilan is far from being the only person who feels fear and panic. She says that following the escalation many families with small children have left her southern community, fleeing to other cities either in the centre or up north.
Those who stayed spent the rest of their Monday evening and night in bomb shelters, detached from the outside world.
But no matter how intense the situation is, Bar-Ilan says she, as well as thousands of other residents of the south, have gotten used to this dire security situation.
Palestinian militants have been bombarding Israel since 2001. Since then, tens of thousands of rockets have been launched from the Strip, causing loss of life and serious damage to property.
The year 2020 was one of the safest and quietest in the past decade, primarily because Hamas was preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic and acute economic crisis, but the events of the past several days brought that relative stability to an end.
"We have been living in this reality for 20 years now and we have seen many rounds of escalation before but this time it is different simply because Jerusalem is also involved".
Tensions in the disputed city have been brewing for weeks. Since the beginning of the month of Ramadan and the Israeli decision to limit the amount of prayers at the Temple Mount, a holy site for Jews and Muslims that houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, mobs of young Arab men have initiated dozens of attacks on Jewish civilians.
At some point, these assaults turned into an almost daily occurrence, something that pushed Israel's security forces to interfere.
The situation continued to escalate over the weekend and it eventually exploded on Sunday, when Israel celebrated the 54th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, captured during the Six-Day War in 1967.
Full-Fledged War Around the Corner?
Now as Israel enters its second day of a rocket barrage, Bar-Ilan says all signs indicate the confrontation is far from being over.
"Their opening shot was very strong. It seems that the IDF is preparing for something serious and I have a sense that we might be going into a full-scale confrontation".
Her worries are not far-fetched. On Monday, Israel boosted its military presence in the area, public events were called off, and educational institutions were advised to keep their doors shut.
Also on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security assessment, promising to hold Hamas responsible, whereas IDF spokesman Hidai Zilberman stressed that a challenge to Israel's sovereignty might cause a heavy military response, including a full-fledged war.
Hamas doesn't appear to be impressed by those and similar threats. In his blitz speech delivered on Monday night, Ismail Haniyeh, the chief of the Islamic group, said that his organisation had no intention of ending the confrontation as long as "Israel didn't stop its aggression in Jerusalem".
Dozens of rockets continued to fall during the early hours of Tuesday morning and Bar-Ilan says she's boiling with rage over her government's inability to "handle the mess".
"They are only interested in getting themselves a job", she said referring to the attempts to forge a government.
"None of them cares about the security situation here. We have been facing this reality for two weeks. Where have they been all this time? Only now, when rockets have started falling in Jerusalem, they've started realising that if the situation is not handled, rockets can even reach our capital".