There’s no sound quite like the “boom” that rumbles through the sky each time the Iron Dome intercepts a rocket.
For residents of Tel Aviv and the country’s center, it’s become a welcome chorus as they sit out each siren in a bomb shelter, safe room or stairwell. This is the part of the country that had previously received few rockets, only to experience a steady stream over the last few weeks.
And it’s thanks to the Iron Dome that only one missile — the one that hit a house in nearby Yehud on Tuesday — appears to have hit the ground in a residential area in the center.
“Nothing else has gotten through,” said defense engineer Uzi Rubin. “That’s up until now. Statistically, there is a good chance that something will eventually get through but up until now it’s been okay.”
That’s probably why Tel Avivians have become fanatical fans of the Iron Dome, and its creator, Daniel Gold. He famously backed the anti-missile project, securing financing and persuading politicians to back it, when he was head of the IDF’s research and development bureau.
Now he and his Iron Dome are at the center of some serious hero worship, particularly in Tel Aviv. And so despite the angst and concern regarding the ongoing battle in Gaza, Tel Avivians are showing their appreciation for the boxy missile interceptor.
Aussie William Lewis was in the final days of a Birthright trip to Israel when he heard his first sirens. It was the very beginning of Operation Protective Edge, and he says the moment was intense – but not scary, thanks to the Iron Dome.
Lewis extended his stay in Israel to spend an extra 10 days in Tel Aviv, and one late night, while grabbing some pizza with friends, he met an Israeli woman, Coral Moshe. They chatted, flirted, and decided to meet up the next day. That meeting was also interrupted by a siren, and as they together ducked for cover, they realized they had two things in common: a mutual attraction, and an intense appreciation of the Iron Dome.
Lewis and Moshe wanted to do more than just gush on Facebook about how grateful they were for the defense system. So they met up with one of Moshe’s friends, a tattoo artist, and got matching his-and-hers tattoos of a missile being shot out of the sky.
“We were only together for a few days, but we kept saying that it felt like we had known each other for ages,” Lewis, who has since returned to Australia, says of his relationship with Moshe. “And every time we would hang out, there would be a siren. It came to be something really meaningful between us.”
Lewis got inked on his arm while Moshe chose a spot near her bottom. The artwork was done in the apartment of their friend, who when not working as a tattoo artist moonlights as a member of a band called Hamas. “It’s a really good story, I know,” Lewis says, laughing.
As for Moshe, she is currently serving in the Israel Air Force. She and Lewis plan to stay in touch, and she hopes to travel to Australia to meet up with him, and reunite their matching tattoos, this winter.
Actors Yogev Buskila, Ron Greenfeld and Debbie Levin have been making videos together for years, after meeting at a local acting school. Buskila and Greenfeld took it a bit farther, always aiming for some comedy and satire in their clips about Israeli life, published under a YouTube channel called The Tough Life Channel. This time, however, it had to center around the rockets, and, the Iron Dome.
Filmed in a stairwell, “Where Are You for the Siren?” pokes fun at how Israelis have to make the siren run into a ritual, said Buskila. (Click on the notepad icon on the bottom right for captions in English.)
“It’s like a holiday, or Friday night dinner, with its own rituals and traditions,” said Buskila.
It ends, of course, with the proper goodbye: “Have a nice Iron Dome.”
“Iron Dome to you, too.”
Of course, Iron Dome fans weren’t born this summer. It was back in November 2012, when the Iron Dome first showed its stuff over the skies of Israel, that two English-speaking immigrants decided they had to find a way to profess their appreciation.
American Rebecca Stefansky and her roommate, Brit Channah Graham, were fans of the catchy radio hit “Call Me Maybe,” and decided to rewrite the lyrics as an ode to the great protector in the sky.
“We kind of gave the Iron Dome this persona, that he was the hottest guy ever,” Graham says. “Our true life superhero, saving us. It was this very tongue-in-cheek joke between us.”
Operation Pillar of Defense was over almost as quickly as it started, so the duo never finished their video. But as Operation Protective Edge drags into its third week and Iron Dome is once again wowing Israeli citizens, they decided to give the video project another go.
They finished the audio file of their song, with cheeky lyrics such as:
They threw bombs at our homes
We called on you Iron Dome
We love your steel and your chrome
And now you’re mad as hell…
Hey you just saved me
And this is crazy
But you’re my hero
So call me maybe
It’s hard to shelter
From all the rockets
But you’re my hero
So call me maybe.
You can view the final product here:
Graham and Stefansky’s video shows several devotees modeling I <3 Iron Dome T-shirts, which according to one vendor at Tel Aviv’s Carmel market, are selling like crazy.
“We started printing them at the beginning of the war,” says Racheli Levy, who owns a T-shirt shop with her husband in the market.
For years, she peddled the classic tourist-gift fare of IDF T-shirts, sexually explicit McDonald’s and Burger King logos, and baby onesies. But when Operation Protective Edge began and the Iron Dome earned a stunning success rate of saving populated areas from missile fire, she and her husband saw a business opportunity.
“As far as I know, we’re the only ones selling these shirts,” she says. “They are by far our most popular item right now.”