Israelis in the south are recovering from a wave of terror after 500 rockets rained down on towns and cities in the most dangerous escalation in violence for four years.

In the space of 48 hours, one person was killed, dozens of soldiers narrowly escaped a mortar strike on their bus - which left one badly wounded and around 50 citizens required hospital treatment for injuries, shock and smoke inhalation.

Aharon Lavi (36) lives five kilometers from the Gaza border on Moshav Shuva with his wife Liat and four children aged 10, 8, 5, and 2.

A house hit by rockets

“The first rockets were fired around 5pm,” he told Aish.com. “My wife was shopping in the nearby town of Netivot when the sirens sounded. She left her car for the cover of one of the many thick cement roadside shelters the municipality has put up all over the towns in the south and stayed there for an hour and a half with 15 others.”

“We spent the night in our shelter hearing dozens of rockets being intercepted by the iron dome defense system and woke up to see debris had fallen around our moshav.”

In the border towns with Gaza there’s a 10 to 15 seconds warning before a rocket strikes, and if it’s a mortar, no warning at all.

Like many children in the south, one of Lavi’s daughters suffers from anxiety caused by the rocket fire. The IDF has issued special advice for parents to help children who suffer from stress, anxiety and trauma due to living under fire.

Inside the Lavi safe room

“There are relaxation and breathing exercises but mainly it’s about reassuring my family that as long as we are following the instructions given to us by the army that we will be safe.”

Kibbutz Nirim is less than three kilometers from Gaza and is home to Adele Raemer who moved to Israel from New York in 1973. Her daughter and two of her grandchildren also live on the border. “We had a few days of terrible uncertainty,” she says, “like a roller coaster you don’t want to be on and can’t get off.”

“We had many hours in the safe room, but it’s most frightening when you have to go out. I had a doctor’s appointment one of the days when the rockets were falling. I was scared but I didn’t want the terror to disrupt my life.”

Aharon Lavi

A local English teacher, her school reopened after being closed for half the week. “It is not easy to get back to normal routine after such a disruption. I dedicated our first class back on how the kids can be empowered by the situation. They wanted to talk about what had happened so we spoke it out and came up with some great ways of responding positively to the situation.”

Raemer herself set up a Facebook group called Life on the Border for residents to support each other and to show others around the world what the situation is like on the border.

Hamas need to know that they have not succeeded in breaking our resolve

On Moshav Shuva, Aharon Lavi is also clear about the most important message from the past week. “Hamas need to know that they have not succeeded in breaking our resolve. No one I know is talking about leaving this area, we moved here to build a good life and we are here to stay.”

Over the last few days, along with the rocket fire, Lavi’s family has also seen an outpouring of support with over 15 invitations of hospitality from Israelis all over the country and non-stop messages of encouragement from Jewish people around the world.

“The support has been incredible,” he says. “Of course we’d rather not have these problems, but far from weakening us, if anything this has just brought us closer together. The approach of the Jewish people is only to become stronger through adversity.”

To find out of ways to supporting communities and soldiers in Gaza border area visit www.jnf.org/menu-2/ways-to-help/ways-to-give/gaza-envelope

To invite a speaker from the southern communities to visit your community and tell their story contact Arilavi@gmail.com