'IDF (the Israeli Defence Forces) soldiers, be it a girl or a boy, they may look very cute, but you cannot mess with them.'
'People are serving their country at 95 years of age. That's the greatest example of patriotism.'
"Israel was so sure with their technologies that this place (where the music festival was organised) was left without any security forces," independent defence journalist Nibedita Sen tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.
Sen, who hails from Kolkata, spent almost three years in Israel between 2020 and 2023 and returned to India only in May.
The first rocket attack in Rehovot that the Iron Dome couldn't intercept...
I went to Israel in 2020 and I came back in early May 2023.
I lived in Rehovot, central Israel. That's supposed to be the place where people used to think that nobody is ever going to attack.
But after leaving Israel in early May, there was this first rocket attack in Rehovot, where I lived, a rocket was launched and it fell just 500 metres away from my house. That was on May 11, 2023.
Nobody ever thought that people (Hamas) can come and attack places like Rehovot in central Israel. But this was the first one (the rocket attack in Rehovot on May 11, 2023) which the Iron Dome (Israel's missile interception programme that shields the country from missile attacks by hostile neighbours) could not intercept. And then there was the attack by Hamas on October 7 that happened.
My friends and my neighbours who stay in Rehovot told me that they were horrified as the window panes trembled. During such attacks all those who stay in Israel are asked to check the red alert on their phones.
Rockets interceptions were very normal for us. Every now and then while having evening tea we looked out of the balcony and got to witness one rocket or the other getting intercepted. As long as it was at a distance it looked like the Ramayana's bow arrow games that we watched on TV.
The difference was only when it happened right on top of our head.
We used to sit outside, have tea, look up, and we used to see one rocket getting intercepted. This was very common over there. I had my own contacts from defence reporting.
There were some soldiers who were my friends; there were some nuclear scientists who were my friends. They all used to talk. I would get this kind of information like, for example, at 12 noon I would come to know that at 8 pm, there will be firing or there will be some kind of rockets coming from so and so place in Gaza, Lebanon, etc. Everybody is like, sending rockets in Israel.
At night my expression would be like WOW instead of getting scared.
As a reporter without a border I have sources from different countries. I have been travelling to Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Gaza, Lebanon borders with common people in Israel. And these were all military-trained people. As they said they have full faith in their technologies, but this was the first glitch that happened.
Yes. It happened at the unmanned border. There were no security forces.
Israel was so sure with their technologies that this place (where the music festival was organised) was left without any security forces.
Protocols that Israelis follow...
We usually have a shelter room in every building. Depending on the location from where rockets enter the Israeli skies, a time is given to us to run.
In Rehovot it was 52 seconds. High alert areas like the borders (closer to hostile neighbours) usually get 20 to 30 seconds to respond to after the alert.
I worked in Ashdod (a port town in Israel) and there the time (to respond after a warning alert is sounded) is lesser than that in Rehovot.
We always have red alert app that sends us signal that we need to run for life.
Our phones are ought to be fully charged.
We keep a bag ready with important documents, chargers, money, water and dry food.
Imagine if this were the preparedness for us migrants, then how much more fit and prepared are they (ordinary Israelis) for the war.
What Israelis feel now...
Nobody in Israel is scared (after the Hamas attack) to be honest. They are the bravest race I have seen so far.
A batch of youngsters joined the war yesterday (October 11, four days after the Hamas attack) with smiling faces. Their eyes poured out only love for their country, not an iota of fear.
I think that's their X factor.
I'm constantly in touch with people because I have been working over there as a defence reporter.
Safety is their first preference. Always. IDF (the Israeli Defence Forces) soldiers, be it a girl or a boy, they may look very cute, but you cannot mess with them.
People are serving their country at 95 years of age. That's the greatest example of patriotism.
They have licensed guns with them for protection. And they have the right to use it whenever there's national security involved.
Every single Israeli -- be it an Indian Jew or a South African or Ukranian Jew -- everyone has gone through rigorous training. They value their land first. And their language Hebrew second.
They are more than prepared.
- Part 2 of the Interview: 'Poor Palestinians are too tired to fight'