Tel Aviv, Saturday October 7th of 2023 ; It is 6 o' clock in the morning when the air alarm goes off. There is a knock on the door of our apartment: "Get out of the room!" We realise this is serious.
When the alarm goes off you have 90 seconds to find a shelter. After 90 seconds, the alarm stops. Then you hear explosions, the Iron Dome defence artillery, taking out more than 90% of the missiles, leaving a white trail in the sky. The air alarm in our region goes off five times on Saturday. Our shelter is the stairwell of the apartment building, on the first floor as far away from windows as possible.
After it becomes apparent during the morning that the situation is so much worse than anything ever experienced here, we wonder what to do. We are advised to leave the country as soon as possible. And that is not easy. Taxis to the airport are all fully booked and flights are cancelled. The Dutch embassy has no plans for evacuation yet. We manage to book a flight for Sunday evening. Not knowing whether the plane will depart or not.
In the supermarket we buy some food. Walking back, Avi, an Israeli who is staying in the same apartment and is assisting us immensely in this situation, apps us. We need to return as soon as possible or find shelter. Many rocket attacks are expected again at 8 pm. We are in on time. A few 100 metres from our apartment a missile strikes. A sound you never forget.
We have thrilling kilometers of cycling to get to the airport Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, we don't experience a missile strike. We are very relieved, our flight departs and our luggage including bikes checked in.
We are safely at home now. We have experienced an unreal situation. Getting caught up in a war. We were less than 3 days in Israel, the country we wanted to see and discover so much more of by bike. How to proceed now? We have no idea and no plans…