Sunday, January 4, 2009

Shabbat in Yad Binyamin: Living in Range

On Thursday, the regional council ran a "drill" telling us that they would test the sirens at 12pm. We decided to use the opportunity to practice running to the mamad (our protected room), so that we'd know what to do if we heard a "real" siren. As 12pm approached, the kids even came in from playing outside so that we'd be ready. Twelve came and went - and no siren. Apparently, I learned over email that when they expanded the yishuv, they might have forgotten to expand the siren system to cover the entire new area. I pretty much couldn't hear anything - and I was listening for it, which makes me wonder how I would ever hear anything if an actual attack took place.
Thankfully, I'm not the only concerned citizen here. (I'm actually on the very mellow side.) Numerous residents called to complain, and were told a few things:
  1. We're looking into it
  2. The army needs to fix the sirens, but Be'er Sheva comes first. Theirs didn't work that well either.
  3. Actually, the sirens are supposed to be automatic, but not all of them are connected to the network. So, there are soldiers who are sitting there, ready to hit the button at the appropriate time in the areas not covered by the automatic siren system. While they should have pressed the button they didn't, supposedly because they were out eating lunch. (Great system. This story is just ridiculous enough to believe.)
We learned last night that school would continue to be canceled for the foreseeable future. Truthfully, they said that they're taking things one day at a time, but on the moatzah's (regional council) web site, they're already planning youth activities and tiyyulim outside the region for tomorrow. It's difficult to know how long this will go on.
Shabbat was subdued - very quiet. While we heard a number of planes flying about, especially towards the end of the day, nothing much happened here - not that I expected anything. Still, we needed to be prepared, so I turned on the radio to one of the silent stations that the government runs for people who keep Shabbat, so that if there's an alarm, they turn on the station and warn everyone.
Many families left for Shabbat. I think they just felt it would be easier with family up north. Others slept "camp" style in their mamads, all together. We slept normally, and figured that if an attack came, we'd have sixty seconds - enough time - to get into our mamad.
I didn't hear anything all Shabbat. Nice and quiet - so I figured that there were no attacks. Then I turned on the radio to learn that Hamas did launch about twenty rockets over Shabbat, and I hadn't heard anything. Which made me wonder whether I had the right frequency, or the radio system wasn't yet up and running. Who knows?