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Elderly Israelis: 'I survived Hitler, Hamas doesn't scare me'

Many elderly residents of the rocket-afflicted areas around Gaza react with calm and resilience to the sound of the sirens and even refuse to hurry into shelters.
Israeli women stand near a building damaged after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza landed in the southern town of Sderot July 15, 2014. Israel will intensify its week-old offensive against Hamas in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, after the Islamist group continued firing rockets at Israel instead of accepting an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3YSAZ

In Sderot, it should take residents 15 seconds to get to a shelter from the moment the siren goes off. In Kibbutz Be’eri, adjacent to the Gaza Strip, they say it should take eight seconds. But these time limits are meaningless for, say, a 90-year-old old man unless he stays in a shelter around the clock. There is no way he can get to safety that quickly. Irma (her full name withheld for privacy reasons) works in a center for the elderly in Sderot. She tells Al-Monitor that when the alarm goes off, things get very difficult for everyone.

Many facilities for the elderly in communities surrounding the Gaza Strip have been closed during the war because they lack adequate protection, but Irma's facility remains open. Elderly residents are picked up every morning and transported to the center, where they stay until 1:30 p.m. During that time, they often deal with dozens of alarms. For people who have a hard time just getting out of a chair, running to a shelter every few minutes is not only dangerous, but frustrating.

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