Most schools start around 8:00 a.m. in Israel - children leave around 7:15 or 7:30. They like to get there early because they have those few minutes to meet their friends. Some bring soccer balls and play in the school yard behind the watchful eye of a security guard. It doesn't rain for about 7 months a year here and so day after day is sunny and warm.
Some children cluster in groups to talk with their friends. You'll hear giggles and laughter - another morning in Israel. This morning, as the normal routine of back to school begins again - yet again, a rocket was fired at Israel. Children in Sderot had 15 seconds to run for cover. By the time you are reading this line - it could have been too late for some children.
It's an amazing concept - what do you worry about when your children go to school? Normal parents worry about a stranger approaching their child (though this is much less of an issue in Israel); normal parents worry about there being a car accident. For the parents of about 200,000 Israeli children, their biggest fear was what happened, again, this morning - an alarm, a Color Red.
As so often happens - with the grace of God alone, the rocket landed in an open field. Two days ago, it was a direct hit on a house and the day before that - as children were going to school, rockets hit a factory in Sderot.
The fact that they missed, again, does not lessen the panic of a child on his way to school; of a parent who isn't sure where their child is. Aliza and Davidi have been asking me about the gas masks. I put them in the living room, on the lowest shelf of a side table. I'll put them in the bomb shelter itself as soon as I make a little more order there.
David needs to ask the school if he is supposed to bring the masks - and do I really want a 16-year-old to take complete charge of it? The hardest part was explaining to them that unlike the second Gulf War, we may not have much warning. I might not be with them. They might be in school - and while I think of the panic Israeli parents would feel as we all try to get to our children...I feel anger.
Children should not come under missile attack when they go to school. They should not have to have a gas mask with their names on it at home or wonder if they should start carrying it with them. This is NOT normal.