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Fears and dreams from my night under Iranian attack

After sheltering with his children as Iranian missiles headed towards his home, ITTAY FLESCHER feels empathy for other parents from Gaza to Teheran.
Ittay Flescher
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Man standing in front of an old wall.

Ittay Flescher in Jerusalem this week.

Published: 16 April 2024

Last updated: 16 April 2024

On Sunday night, the word most frequently searched in Google in Israel at 2 am was tehillim, meaning psalms. I can understand why many Jews wanted to pray at that time, as after days of build-up, Iran attacked Israel with 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles.

At 1.30am, we heard loud booms over our apartment in Jerusalem and rushed our kids down to the shelter. Anxiously sitting it out with our neighbours for 20 long minutes felt like hours.We were all frightened. Between the booms from exploding missiles, countered by the Iron Dome defence system,   and the air raid sirens, we talked with our neighbours, many of whom we had last encountered in the same shelter on October 7, when we took to the shelter under Hamas rocket attack as those in the south were massacred and kidnapped.

This night felt very different. Unlike that black Saturday, which took us by surprise and had devastating consequences, on April 14, we were ready.

Two weeks earlier, on April 1, in a precision air attack attributed to Israel, seven senior officers in Iran’s al-Quds Force were killed in an air attack on a building claimed by Iran to be its consulate in Damascus, adjacent to the Iranian embassy. Due to the advance warning given by Iran of their intention to retaliate, this time, we were prepared to defend ourselves.

 Ultimately, 99% of the drones and missiles fired from Hamedan in Iran, the city where Ester and Mordechai are buried, were intercepted by Israeli air defences with support from allies. The next day, many Jewish Israelis felt as if we had experienced a Purim story in our lifetimes, with a Persian threat again being neutralised by greater powers and circumstances of fate that acted in our favour.

Rather than generate a desire for revenge, the experience of April 14 increased my empathy for all parents who need to care for their children in times of war.

The one major injury from the Islamic Republic attack was Amina al-Hasoni, a seven-year-old Bedouin girl who was seriously wounded by falling shrapnel. She remains in hospital in critical condition. Were it not for systemic inequities in Israel, where over 300,000 Bedouins live in unrecognised villages with no bomb shelters,  her relatives said, maybe she, too, could have been spared.

After the all clear, we returned upstairs from the cold basement bunker to our home. It was almost impossible to go to sleep. Adrenaline was pumping, and fear remained high, but I felt grateful that my family and everyone in my building could return safely to warm beds. 

The next day, one of the most searched items on Google in Israel was “Mizmor LeTodah”, meaning Psalm of Gratitude, a specific reference to Psalm 100, recited after a divine miracle.

The top six searches in Israel as Iranian missiles attacked: News, Flights,  Channel 14, Psalms, New York Times, Psalm of Gratitude.
The top six searches in Israel as Iranian missiles attacked: News, Flights, Channel 14, Psalms, New York Times, Psalm of Gratitude.

Amidst this intense fear and profound gratitude, I also personally couldn’t help but think of acquaintances I know in Gaza who have lived for the past six months with armed drones flying over their heads every night. For just one evening, I experienced what so many Palestinian parents do every night as they put their children to sleep in Gaza, not knowing what may strike their home as they sleep.

Rather than generate a desire for revenge against the Islamic Republic as it did for many Israelis, the experience of April 14 increased my empathy for all parents who need to care for their children in times of war.

This weekend was the first time an enemy state attacked Israel since 1991 when Saddam Hussein fired 42 Scud missiles over the course of a month during the Gulf War. I was a child at the time, but I remember that war vividly. One of those missiles directly hit my aunt's house in Ramat Gan, injuring several members of my family, all of whom were born in Iraq. Back then, America successfully convinced Israel not to retaliate.

As I’m writing this piece, I don’t yet know what Israel’s response will be, but I can imagine there are probably many parents in Teheran now fearful of what fate waits for their families and children. For the sake of many Iranians and Israelis whom I know want peace, I hope our governments can heed the path of restraint and trust in the regional powers that are on our side at this time to coordinate any response in a manner that can ensure our long-term safety and boost regional cooperation.

In the meantime, I will continue to hold my family tightly, support my many dear friends in Jerusalem,both Jewish and Arab, and hope that the next item we Google en masse will be the words, “How to love your neighbour as yourself.”

About the author

Ittay Flescher

Ittay Flescher is the Jerusalem Correspondent for The Jewish Independent. For over twenty years, he has worked as an educator, journalist, and peacebuilder in Melbourne and Jerusalem. He is the co-host of the podcast ‘From the Yarra River and the Mediterranean Sea' and the author of the upcoming book ‘The Holy and the Broken.’ He is also the Education Director at a youth movement that brings together Israeli and Palestinian teenagers who believe in building equality, justice, and peace for all.


  • Avatar of Fred Morgan

    Fred Morgan16 April at 08:09 am

    I’m disappointed that Ittay, in his otherwise very moving account, picked up the reference from the New York Times article about the “systemic inequalities” that some might say contributed to the injuries of the young Bedouin girl who was the only victim from the Iranian attack.

    Despite the historic inequities in official treatment of the Bedouin in Israel, this girl wasn’t injured by the absence of a bomb shelter. Many others, Jews and Bedouins, across Israel were not in bomb shelters. She was injured by shrapnel from an Iranian missile. Iran bears full responsibility.

    The point of the Times article is to turn Israel’s extraordinary salvation on its head and find something in the events to make Israel appear accountable. That’s truly terrible reporting, it’s endemic in an ideologically driven worldview which must portray Israel in every situation as an oppressor. To me, it stands out glaringly from the rest of Ittay’s deeply evocative article.

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