When I first heard about Hawaii’s false ballistic missile threat, sent on January 13, and the reaction to it among the natives who thought they were in danger, it engendered genuine sadness, because here in Israel, we live under the threat of real rocket attacks every day, as I know all too well, and those attacks that have been launched against us have been largely ignored by the rest of the world.
For Americans, the threat of a ballistic missile is far from a daily reality or concern. So when Hawaiians received a false warning that a nuclear rocket attack was imminent, residents panicked, with parents reportedly hiding their children in the sewer, students at the University of Hawaii running into marked fallout shelters, only to find them locked, and motorists parking in highway tunnels.
Living in Israel, I understand that sense of panic all too well. I commonly get similar alerts from my “Red Alert” phone application of incoming Hamas and Hezbollah rockets, often headed toward the south of Israel.
I know the feeling when you get that alert, the shock wave that starts deep in the gut and heads upward, much like when you’re dropping from a roller coaster.
During the last war between Israel and Hamas (the Palestinian terrorist group that governs the Gaza Strip), not only did I get the alerts on my phone, I heard the air raid sirens wail over and over, all around the country. But these sirens were not false alarms — they were real alarms, warning Israel to take cover. Luckily, many of these rockets were shot down by the American-funded Iron Dome interception system.