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    Posted November 20, 2012 by
    Jerusalem, Israel
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Your stories

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    Air Raid Sirens in The Garden of Gethsemane


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     iReporter ErikPena was strolling through the beautiful Gardens of Gethsemane in Jerusalem when suddenly sirens sounded a warning that rockets had been fired from Gaza. "To be walking on biblical land and hear sirens in Jerusalem, a place sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, is shocking," he said. "You're risking these holy sites for all religions - it's insane." But despite the warnings people around him, mainly tourists, did not seem to react, he said. The earlier part of his holiday had been spent traveling in the north of Israel where, prior to the rocket attacks on Jerusalem, many did not seem as concerned about the incidents. "Before it was almost like they thought 'that's problem in the south of the country, not for us,'" he said.
    - sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer

    My wife and I flew back from Tel Aviv in the early morning of Sunday November 18th. We had been vacationing in Jordan and Israel.


    On Thursday the 15th we had an uneventful tour in Jerusalem. Upon returning to Tel Aviv that evening we heard the first sirens while driving. At first I thought it was an ambulance. Only a few people were reacting some even kept walking on the street or kept texting on a bench. Quite surreal. Later we saw the news and confirmed it was an air raid siren.


    The next day we went back to Jerusalem to see some more. In the evening we drove to the Mount of Olives and walked up and down it (picture attached). It was a little disconcerting to hear several loud cracks that we initially thought were gunfire since there were a lot of riot police around. We later saw some kid setting off bottle rockets and fireworks (seriously!) This was apparently left over from the Islamic New Year that they just celebrated. Scared us a bit.


    We had a nice walk and ended up at the bottom of the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane. There were tour groups all over from many countries.


    This is where the video comes in. Suddenly we heard the same siren. This time we knew exactly what it was. Again, no one really reacted, even in the streets. The tours kept going, so I started recording. Later we learned the rocket did land near Jerusalem.


    The final day of our trip was Saturday. Shabbat had started so the streets were pretty empty anyway, but many locals said it was much more quiet because of the attacks. We went a bit south of Tel Aviv to Jaffa, an old port city that is very nice. While there we found several international media outlets filming the seaside of Tel Aviv and reporting. It seemed surreal to hear what they were saying especially since we were living it. Frankly, it seemed a little overblown, but that was soon to change.


    We left Jaffa after having my last falafel pita. (I miss them!) Anyway, I was driving south and we heard the sirens again. This time it was raining a bit and people were reacting a lot more. I thought it was because of the rain but my wife pointed out the were leaving their cars and running to buildings.


    Then we saw the scariest thing of the trip. While stopped at a traffic light, my wife saw the Gaza rocket actually coming in from the sea and then flare from the Iron Dome interceptor shoot across the sky and blow it away. It really couldn't have been much more than a mile away since the explosion occurred and then about five seconds later we heard the huge boom. It was way louder than thunder. I filmed the cloud from the explosion, but was too late to record the actual intercept. That really got my heart racing. We've seen some crazy things in our travels including the beginning of the Arab Spring in Cairo when the Egyptians rebelled. This explosion was scarier since it seemed so arbitrary on whether the rocket would hit or be intercepted. At that point we were really glad to get to the airport and leave for JFK after midnight.

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