The recent mini-war with Gaza caused a few air-raid sirens in Tel Aviv. The first caught me and the kids in the playground next to our apartment block. It's a popular playground and it was very busy.
The siren went off and there was a second when everyone looked stunned and then everybody in the playground scattered - except me who stood there wondering how seriously I should take this thing.
As luck would have it, my partner was just returning from the shops at that moment. "Come on" she said, "We have 90 seconds to take cover". So we scooped up the girls and ran over to our block, pausing to collect a man and his crying daughter, who had taken cover behind the local Likud branch, a tiny building next to our building. We told them to join us in our stairwell.
The stairwell turned out to be packed. There were various people who happened to be passing along and most of our neighbors. Its an old building and we have no "security rooms" which are now built as standard on new Israeli buildings and are chemical weapon and missile proof. Our building has a bomb shelter in the basement but its dank and unpleasant and we were advised to hang-out in the stairwell on one of the lower floors, so the whole building was hanging out together.
The man and his crying daughter turned out to be tourists from Morocco of all places. After what seemed like 90 seconds we heard a very distinct "boom", which may have been the missile defense shield blowing up the incoming missile or the missile hitting the ground. When the siren ended we went up to our apartment.
There were a few sirens in Tel Aviv, fortunately they all occurred at convenient hours of the day, mostly when I was at work and not at night.
Last week my daughter Shani (who is three years old), turned to me and said "When will there be a siren again?" I told her that was it, we'd done. "Oh" she said, "Well in that case I'll be the siren" and she proceeded to make a fair imitation of the siren.