HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – An Israeli woman with local ties here in Hampton Roads is sharing her experience just days after the Israel-Hamas war began.
Elizabeth Dovrat lives in a kibbutz in Northern Israel near the Lebanon border. She lives there with her husband and three young children.
After being evacuated from her home, she and her family are now living a new normal in Central Israel, just days after the war began.
Last Saturday started as a normal day. Dovrat woke up and was deciding where to go on a hike with her children.
“We heard very early on, probably within an hour, not to go too far away. Something was happening in the South,” said Dovrat.
Later in the day, the seriousness of the situation was becoming more clear. They received calls from her husband’s mother and sister to relocate to where they were in central Israel.
“My husband and I kind of looked at each other and go why? They’re the ones getting sirens. We haven’t gotten anything why would we do that?”
On Sunday morning, there was a shift.
Dovrat says she received a call from a neighbor, saying that evacuations might begin.
Outside the window of their home in Northern Israel, they could see military personnel out by their parking space.
Evacuations began, she took her time packing, and then they left. Over the next two days, she said the entire kibbutz would pack up and move out of the area.
There were fears given their proximity to the Lebanon border.
“It was very clear but unspoken, what happened in the south — we don’t want to happen here. Looking at pictures, the kibbutz in towns affected are like mine except northern,” said Dovrat. “Families in those pictures could have been me, that’s one of the scariest things.”
She is thankful for her and her loved ones to be safe, and have somewhere to go.
Dovrat is an Israeli citizen, and has lived there since 2004.
What is happening now, she says, is unlike anything her or her husband has ever seen.
“I don’t think anyone my age, has seen this level of tragedy, of devastation.”
Dovrat grew up in the United States, going to Virginia Beach each summer. She still is connected to the area through her mother in Hampton Roads.
Her mother worries from across the Atlantic. Ever since the war started, she has been checking with her daughter each day.
“She’s been telling the extended family about me. Calling in, checking I’m okay, which for me has been very helpful.”
Now, in central Israel with family, her children ask her questions about what is happening.
“They ask questions, and I do tell them because I want them to hear from me and not other kids they might encounter,” said Dovrat. “The little one, it’s still much above him, but it’s heartbreaking because he asked questions like, why is there war?”
Dovrat said they have been with their children as sirens go off. They have run to bomb shelters, or safe areas.
They have found community where they staying in Israel.
“It’s heartbreaking, but beautiful how people are coming together to help each other.”
With children around, Dovrat said they are careful about watching news and not giving the children access to platforms like YouTube alone.
The adults try to stay updated around the clock, taking turns viewing their phones and monitoring the state run app. Her community from the kibbutz also shares information and resources.
She is not sure when she’ll be able to return home. For now, they will try to start preparing to grasp the fact they might be living away for a while.