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Israeli In Ashkelon Describes Attacks From Gaza

GUY RAZ, host.

We'll hear now about life in Ashkelon. And in a moment, we'll hear from a Palestinian in Gaza City. But first we turn to Sigal Ariely. She's an Israeli who lives in the city of Ashkelon. Ms. Ariely, thanks for joining us.

Ms. SIGAL ARIELY: You're welcome.

RAZ: Where are you at the moment?

Ms. ARIELY: At the moment I am in my house in Ashkelon.

RAZ: And what do the streets of Ashkelon look like right now?

Ms. ARIELY: Pretty much empty and deserted. A lot of people are in their houses. Some families took the mothers and the children and went to spend some time in - with families out of Ashkelon. It's Thursday. And Fridays and Saturdays, nobody works, so a lot of people took advantage of that and are taking the weekend out of Ashkelon.

RAZ: What do you do when you hear the sirens going off?

Ms. ARIELY: I think people kind of got used to the sound of the siren. We know what to do. Where I work, we don't have a shelter area, so we just run to the stairway, and everybody's crowded there waiting for the siren to be over.

RAZ: And have you heard any sirens today?

Ms. ARIELY: We had seven times, seven sirens. And after each siren, you hear the boom of a Qassam or a Grad falling. And you just try to see if it's near you or far from you.

RAZ: The missile that killed a civilian in your city, in Ashkelon, earlier this week, it struck right next to the building where you work. Is that right?

Ms. ARIELY: God, that was the worst - I think that was the worst experience I had since everything started. It was a hundred meters away from our building. We heard the siren. We ran to where we always ran. And we waited to hear the boom. Only this time it sounded like it was on our heads. And then we ran upstairs back to - there is a big porch where you can see the city. Then we saw the smoke coming from the next building. And it was horrible. It was really - that was the place where one person got killed and a few people were injured. It was just so close to us and so loud. It was very scary.

RAZ: Now, of course, you have the option to leave Ashkelon.

Ms. ARIELY: Yes.

RAZ: To temporarily move to another part of the country. Why don't you just get out of town for a few days or weeks until the fighting calms down?

Ms. ARIELY: I think that if you don't have to be here, it's OK for you to go. I feel that I belong here. I need to update my colleagues and my friends all over the world, just tell them exactly what's happening on real time.

RAZ: Sigal, considering what you've experienced over the past week, have you thought about Israel's attack on Gaza and whether it's changed your mind on whether that's a good thing or a bad thing?

Ms. ARIELY: Well, living in Ashkelon you realize that this has to happen to put an end to all the violence and all the attacks we're getting from the Hamas every other day. And this is, I believe, now the only way to do it because there's nobody to talk to. Unless we put an end to the fact that they have all these weapons, we'll never have a normal life in Ashkelon. We're too close to them, and we need to live normal life like any other citizens all over the world.

RAZ: But haven't the attacks carried out by Israel increased the number of rockets that are coming into Israel from Gaza now?

Ms. ARIELY: Of course, we knew that it was going to happen that if we attack Hamas, the reaction will be what it is now. And after we suffer for a while, we'll go back to peace and have a normal life.

RAZ: And ultimately you think that that will work?

Ms. ARIELY: Yes, I have to believe in that.

RAZ: Yeah. Sigal Ariely joined us on the phone from her home in Ashkelon, Israel. Sigal, thanks very much.

Ms. ARIELY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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