Bend native hunkers down in Tel Aviv as rockets fall

Nick Papa tells of loud bangs, sirens and fending off fear

Bendite in Tel Aviv

BEND, Ore. - "When the sirens go off, we have to go into a safe room," said Bendite Nick Papa, who just moved to Tel Aviv a week ago for a job.

Since he arrived, he has heard many sirens, warning Israelis to seek shelter.

"The rockets when they come, it just goes and it goes. And then you've got about 15 seconds to go into a shelter," Papa said in a Skype interview Thursday.

Papa, 28 and a Summit High graduate in 2004, moved to Tel Aviv just as tensions rose in the latest conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Just in the last couple of weeks, Palestinians have fired about 440 rockets against Israel, with a severe escalation over the last couple of days.

"So this morning was different than the rest, because there were big kabooms," Papa said. "There's five that I counted. I know that there were at least five rockets today."

But the so-called "Iron Dome" defense mechanism is working, shooting down rockets before they hit the ground in Israel.

Dozens of Palestinians have died in air strikes, but no Israelis have been killed in the rocket attacks so far.

Papa said he received a degree in international studies and Chinese at a small liberal arts school in Ohio in 2008, moving to China two months after graduation and working in Beijing and Shanghai, moving to Tel Aviv just last week.

Papa said that despite everything, he mostly feels safe in Tel Aviv.

"Everybody is pretty worried. But they carry on," he said. "It's not the first time and it won't be the last. I mean, this has been going on for at least 60 to 70 years."

The ongoing conflict is nothing new to Israelis. That's why every apartment, every restaurant, every shop has to have a "safe room."

"So this morning, when the big ones came, my friends that I'm currently living with, they came into the room, and we closed the door and waited for it to stop," Papa said. "The sirens will continuously go off, and maybe you'll hear some booms -- and then it will just go."

Safe rooms are prepped for all kinds of attacks.

"This is the air filter," Papa said, displaying it. "So if there's any chemical weapons, you know you can come in here, you can lock the door up. It's got sealing on the doors. The light switches all sealed over with plastic. It's reinforced, and it's also chemical-proof."

Although Papa feels relatively safe, he has a Plan B if things get worse.

"Pack a suitcase and go to Cyprus or Istanbul or something like that," Papa said.

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