Twice a year, air raid sirens sound in Israel to schedule a moment or two to remember, to honor. The first is for Holocaust Remembrance Day and the second is for Israel's Memorial Day. And then sometimes, as happened during the Cast Lead Operation/Gaza War - there's a mistake and a siren goes off suddenly, leading to fear and panic - especially among children.
And then, there are the sirens that the army uses to test the system. That's what happened today - a 90 second reminder that we live in a country that could, quite easily, be attacked by anyone of several enemies. Almost daily, Gaza launches rockets against us. Lebanon fired rockets a few weeks ago and Hezbollah has increased its rhetoric. Syria mobilized some troops last week near the border. Egypt is making noises about the peace treaty we signed over 30 years ago.
Today was just a test - a reminder that we need to make sure our emergency alert system is always functional. It was a test of the system, not a drill, so I assume the children in the schools were not required to move to bomb shelters - but they would have heard the siren anyway, as I did in my home.
I've got my grandson with me today - he slept through the siren. In my mother's generation, they had air raid siren drills in America and the children were told to get under the desks. Here, they are quickly taken to bomb shelters. A few months ago, I saw a news clip. Israel is a center of innovation - amazing inventions.
This one won't make the international news, but we've discovered how to make reinforced children's desks. They dropped a 500 kilogram weight on a standard table, which was crushed beyond recognition. Then, they showed the same 500 kilogram weight being dropped on the reinforced table. For a second, the table held the weight and then it tipped over to the side.
The news clip then showed how two children could hide under each desk. Of course, if the weight were to explode upon impact, the children would not survive, even under the table. That wasn't mentioned in the news clip - I only thought of it later. The point was that if a missile hit a school building and the roof collapsed, the children under the table would be alive and hopefully unhurt.
It's silly to let my mind wander on a beautiful day in Israel, with clouds just beginning to roll in and my relatively new grandson sleeping peacefully in his carriage near me. In all the years of my schooling, I don't remember a single air raid siren sounding, or even any testing other than fire drills.
It's sobering to think not of the siren, but of why they are testing and what would be the reason for their sounding a real alarm. Too much to consider now, too much to think about.