German-Israeli reports: When a car drives by, Sarah freezes: “I was afraid that they would shoot”
Two days after Hamas’ attacks on Israel, the streets of Tel Aviv are eerily quiet. In an interview with FOCUS online, the German Sarah G. (34) talks about her fears and hopes and the strong solidarity among Israelis.
Tel Aviv, Monday evening, 9:42 p.m. Sarah G. (name changed by the editors) stayed overnight at a friend’s house because there is no bunker in her building. She rides her bike through the almost deserted streets of Tel Aviv. The city where she has lived for eight years is hardly recognizable.
Since Hamas’ attacks on October 7, many Israelis have left Tel Aviv, been drafted into the army or holed up in their homes. Only a few police officers and soldiers are out and about this evening, Sarah G. tells our editorial team.
Today the Israeli military issued a warning that every household should stock up on food, drinks, medicine and emergency equipment for 72 hours.
Information that is very worrying for Sarah G. and her family in Germany: “I am very afraid that the situation will escalate completely and that here in Tel Aviv will also be invaded or that there will be terrorist attacks.”
“I was afraid they would shoot”
Sarah G.’s actual name is different, but she doesn’t want to give her real name to protect herself. The 34-year-old was born in Bavaria. Her studies took her to Israel a few years ago – and she has stayed there to this day, living and working in the coastal metropolis.
Six years ago, the petite woman with long brown hair became religious and today describes herself as a modern, Orthodox Jew. She still feels strongly connected to Germany and has both a German and an Israeli passport.
She carries her two passports, a change of clothes, her toothbrush and medication in a small backpack. These are the only personal things she took with her from her apartment, which she is now making available to refugee Israelis from the south.
She is on her way to her boyfriend’s apartment on her bike. The path isn’t far, but she’s still scared. Yesterday a car with darkened windows slowly came closer and closer. She quickly got off her bike and hid behind a parked bus: “I was afraid they would shoot.”
“There was a loud bang and the whole house shook”
When the rockets broke through the sky on Saturday, the festival of Simchat Torah was supposed to be celebrated. The celebration revolves around the Torah, the central scripture of Judaism, and includes dancing and singing. But this Saturday was completely different.
At 6:30 a.m., the first rockets hit her neighborhood in Tel Aviv, remembers Sarah G., who was alone in her apartment at the time. The missile defense systems make it unlikely that missiles will hit houses – “unless there are a lot of missiles coming at once,” she says. Then there is a higher probability that not all missiles can be defended.
“There was a loud bang and the whole house shook. A rocket hit two streets from my apartment,” said the Jewish woman.
Hamas violence is incomprehensible for Germans
The situation is “incredibly bad,” especially in the areas bordering the Gaza Strip, where many of her friends have been deployed as soldiers since Saturday and from whom she has not heard since because they do not carry a phone with them.
For the 34-year-old, the brutality with which Hamas acts is incomprehensible. “Brutality on the level of ISIS. They massacre people and kidnap children, women and old people. It’s barbaric.”
One of the most shocking things the German has seen in recent days is Shani Louk’s video. The young woman is also German and was celebrating at a music festival near the border with the Gaza Strip when Hamas fighters attacked the festival-goers.
In the clip you can see the 22-year-old, seriously injured and almost naked, in the back of an off-road vehicle. A Hamas fighter spits on her unconscious body.
“You can’t even imagine that someone is capable of such violence,” says Sarah G.. It’s just one of many videos about Hamas’ violent excesses that are currently circulating on social media. The woman can’t follow the news stream on her cell phone for more than ten minutes, “then my nerves are exhausted.”
Sarah G. fears “endless cycle of violence”
Even though she is sure that Israel has no other option, the Jew is watching the Israeli defensive strike with concern: “Now we are shelling Gaza and a lot of civilians who have nothing to do with Hamas will die there, and that will happen trigger suffering again and an endless cycle of violence.”
She believes that a peaceful future for the region is almost impossible. Sarah G.: “There is so much trauma. The chance for peace seems to be over. The pain will be too great. It will take decades until this situation is comparable to that of the day before yesterday. And I fear it will become much more dangerous.”
The 34-year-old was on her way to the hospital on Tuesday morning. At 12 p.m. the queue in front of the building is already several hundred meters long. Israelis queue here for several hours to donate blood.
It is this strong solidarity that makes the Israeli people so unique, says Sarah G.: “I don’t know whether other peoples also feel this solidarity. It’s this mix of religion, culture and history. The persecution of Jews and the Holocaust also play a role. There is such a connection that runs very deep. It’s a feeling that you have to and want to support each other.”
Mother wants her daughter to be safe in Germany
The 34-year-old knows that her family would like her to be safe with them in Germany. But also when the fear of further escalation grows. Leaving Israel is out of the question for the German-Israeli. “I have the feeling that I can’t leave now because then I would leave my country alone,” said G..
On the way back from the hospital, Sarah G. observes Israelis carrying large shopping bags from a supermarket. There’s a little more going on on the streets than the night before. Nevertheless, the mood is tense.
Sarah G. gets on her bike and rides back to her boyfriend’s apartment. She carries her packed backpack with her most important personal items on her back. She wants to be prepared if the worst comes to the worst. And it won’t be long in coming. At 4:45 p.m. the missile alarm sounds again.