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It was the middle of the night when I first heard the alarm. I woke up to my mother's Shouting at us to get our gas masks and run down to the shelter. My heart started Pounding as if it was going to burst out of my chest. I grabbed my mask Quickly and headed, still in my pajamas, downstairs. I was only twelve when the war in the Persian Gulf began. Growing up in Israel, I did not Fully understand the difficult situation our country was handling.
I studied at school the Short and brave history of Israel, but it was only later on that I could truly comprehend it. In 1923 Palestine was divided into 2 areas by the British - 25% of the land was to be The Jewish homeland and administratively run by the Palestinian Jews. The remaining 75%, called Trans- Jordan would be the Arab-Palestinian homeland. Arab Palestinians began a systematic effort to drive out the Jews from the area west of The Jordan River, with continuous attacks on Jewish settlements. The British, who once protected the Jews and Arabs from each other, soon became weary Of the situation, and by 1947 left it to the United Nations to decide the fate of the region. The UN passed resolution 181 partitioning the land west of the Jordan River into A Jewish Palestinian state and an Arab Palestinian state.
The Jews accepted the resolution And the Arabs rejected it, claiming all of Palestine. On May 14, 1948 the Palestinians Jews celebrated for the fist time as Israelis, but on the Following day, seven neighboring Arab enemies: Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen invaded the new state. In what became known as " Israel's War of Independence", the newly formed, poorly Equipped Israel Defense Forces (IDF) repulsed the invaders in fierce intermittent Fighting, causing the loss of over 6000 Israeli lives. As the war came to an end, Israel focused its efforts on building the state which it had Struggled so long and so hard to regain.
The Arabs constant attempts to drive out the Jews from the area continue to this day, always forcing the IDF to keep guard. Due to its geographic position, Israel often got dragged into the battle field without Actually being a side in the argument. The war in the Persian Gulf was a fine example; Simmering disputes between Iran and Iraq over land, oil and money came to a head with The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on august 2, 1990. The U. S. set a deadline, Jan.
15, 1991, for all Iraq forces to be out of Kuwait, but Saddam Hussein the Iraqi president ignored the deadline. He threatened to attack his Jewish Neighbor, knowing Israel holds good relationship with the Americans. On the night of Jan. 17, 1991 scud missiles struck targets in Israel. We had been Preparing for this night for weeks; nearly all of the country's 4. 5 million people had been Issued gas masks, fearing Saddam would make good on his threat.
During those weeks before the attacks, I'd picture this moment, tried to get as Calm about it as I could be, but when the screaming sound of the siren cut through the Silent Night, I was petrified. On my way down to the shelter, I ran into Shirley, my best friend and neighbor. We Looked at each other and could not decide how to handle the situation. I smiled at her. We ran hastily down the stairs, came inside the secured room and sat next to each other. The radio reporter announced that we needed to wear the gas masks on.
"There is a possibility of chemicals being released in the air" the voice said. My mother Helped me put on the rubber mask which came on easily, as we practiced many times in School. When the commotion calmed down, I looked around the room. Suddenly I could only Hear my heavy breathing going in and out.
Everyone seemed so strange and scary with Those black and green face covers. They all looked the same; Faceless. The missiles attacks went on for a couple of months. We were not able to predict the next One; they caught us on the bus, during lunch or while sleeping. After negotiating, the leaders finally came to an agreement, and the short war was over. My life returned to its normal pace; school started again, and the gas masks were Locked in the closet.
Last month, more than ten years after the war in the Persian Gulf ended, I arrived in The USA to pursue my music career. The tense situation with Iraq, which was covered constantly in the news, opened a Pandora box I tried so hard to lock away forever. Again, I was filled with the images, Smells and sounds of my days in war. Being so far away from home I realized for the first time the deadly meaning of those Missiles attack, and the great danger I was in.
Frightened, I picked up the phone and Called my mother. We both prayed for Peace.
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