We had many wars in Israel, and people are used to war and bombs and terrorist acts. All of a sudden when this war started, the situation became quite different from what we knew.
People used to go down together to the air raid shelter, and you were in a group of friends, your neighbors. One brought coffee, the other one brought fruit, and you had somebody to talk to, and the fear wasn't your own personal fear, it was the fear of the whole group.
Now everybody runs to his sealed-off room in his own apartment. It is much more frightening. Everything is so quick that you don't know what to do first. You have to have a flashlight. You have to have a radio to listen to, because many times there are areas where the sirens are not even heard. The spokesman of the army gives instructions, what to do, what not to do. Everything is relayed to you through the radio.
You have to put wet rags underneath all the doors in that sealed-off room, in case of chemical warfare, and you have to wear your gas mask, which is very tight and difficult. Not everybody is so competent to pull it on his head so quickly. It's very hard. And you have to put the filter on. There are already some people who've choked to death because they didn't know that you have to open the filter so that you can breathe.
And the Scud, you hear it shrieking above your head. In former wars our air force controlled the skies. In the Six-Day War, they finished off all the planes on the ground, so you knew that very little can get to you. You were not on the front.
Now the population is the front line, because the Scuds are flying over your head, and you never know where it is going to hit.
At night all your friends start calling. "What should I do? I can't breathe. My heart is beating wildly. My knees are wobbly." Your body rebels about running to the room and sealing it off. You feel trembly and full of fear. And then you tell your friends: "Take an aspirin, take a Valium, have a brandy." Everybody tries to help through the phone. What can you do? People are frantic.
During the daylight, when the sun is shining, you cope. Once the sun goes down, people start to panic.
When the Scud fell in my street, a block away, my family went wild. They were here, my brother and my sister-in-law. They heard the news. And I could not reassure them that I'm OK.
They started putting pressure on me that I should come. It's not like us Israelis to get up and to leave. I felt really out of place that I did it. But then I thought, I cannot serve any purpose now. I live alone. I'm not doing any job which is connected with welfare of people who are hit.
So finally I was persuaded to leave, and that was on the 25th of January. But I don't plan to stay here one day longer than I have to.
The cheerful thing in Israel now, which gives us tremendous boosts in confidence, is the new Russian immigrants.
Can you imagine, you see on TV the Scuds falling, you see Saddam Hussein, and the second minute you see the planes with hundreds of new immigrants coming in? They give them a warm handshake, an orange drink, a pat on the shoulder, and in the other hand they give them a gas mask.