Recollections and reflections of a South African immigrant under fire

By Joel Klotnick

The recent hostilities, which Israel named “Operation Shield and Arrow” brought back memories of the last ‘fireworks’ when we in Ra’anana – a city some 20 kilometers north of Tel Aviv –  found ourselves in range.

At the time I penned a piece (hereunder) that I sent to friends and family around the world. I believe it  no less relevant today – sadly so!

Crowd Flees Tel Aviv Beach After Siren Sounds

Ra’anana in Range

“It’s bizarre and surreal! I always wanted to meet a siren, i.e. one, who according to a definition in my trusty Oxford Dictionary is “a woman who is considered to be alluring but also dangerous in some way”.

Instead, I get to meet  – or rather hear – an ear-splitting, caterwauling, prolonged sound telling me that it’s dangerous in some way!

On Friday, one minute we’re sitting and having coffee with friends at a popular local café in central Ra’anana, the next you hear a siren in the distance and although you think it is too far away to be of concern to us, a number of patrons of the coffee shop think otherwise and decide that it’s time to make a dash for the shelters. I felt less energised and decided to do more than dash.

From Gaza with Hate. What has changed in Israel today than from when this mother ducked with her kids in Tel Aviv in 2012 following a siren warning of incoming rockets from Gaza? (Photo Oren Ziv AFP/Getty Images)

As I was getting up  – somewhat lethargically – to join them, I looked up to see a rocket plume far away and high in the sky and then another plume – from another direction – intersect the first one – and then a puff of smoke, followed 20 to 25 secs later by a “BOOM”, thus confirming that it was quite far away. So, after consulting our smart phones we confirm that the sirens were in Herzliya, the city adjacent to Ra’anana. But what about our friends, who are having coffee with us and whose kids are on the beach at Herzliya. A quick call to them to see that all’s OKAY and back to coffee and chatting. Our thoughts are also with friends, family, and just ordinary Israelis (including non-Jewish Israelis) who have to spend days and nights anticipating a CODE RED alert, giving them seconds to dash for shelter?

Dash for Cover. With only seconds to find cover, children in 2023 at a playground in Tel Aviv run as fast as they can to the underground bomb shelter. (Kobi Wolf for The Washington Post)

Why are there these guys in Gaza trying to  frighten us! They are not going to weaken my resolve, nor, as far as I can judge, the resolve of all Israelis. There is a broad consensus that “we” have to go in and clean out the place once and for all. However, if you think about it a little more logically, “going in” means that our soldiers are likely to suffer injuries and worse. And can they really eliminate all terror cells and rocket launchers?

Rocket strikes ‘Home’. An 80-year-old Israeli is killed as Gaza rocket makes direct hit on her apartment in Rehovot.

So, what’s the answer? It’s obvious – it is PEACE – but you’ve got to have leaders in Gaza who are prepared to LEAD! I’m not known as a pessimist, but, unfortunately, I do not believe that this elusive PEACE will be reached in my lifetime.

Israelis, those who were born here and others “who’ve seen it all before”, regularly ask “So, are you still happy that you made Aliyah?” My unequivocal answer is a resounding YES, I would not like to be anywhere else.”


As I reflect about this 5-day  “round” of hostilities that included a total of 1,469 rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel with 1,139 rockets crossing into Israeli territory, have my thoughts changed in any meaningful way since the previous engagements? Sadly not and am no less resolute to proudly call Israel my home and still hope against all the odds for that most elusive prize –  PEACE.

About the Writer:

Joel Klotnick, retired in South Africa after many years in practice as a Chartered Accountant (CA) in commerce and as a volunteer in community affairs. Now volunteering in community affairs in Israel. Very proud and happy that all three children and their families (including nine grandchildren), live in Israel.

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

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