Updated Tue, Jul 15, 2014 12:27 pm
An Ohio University professor who is spending his summer in Israel with full confidence in the country's safety.
"I have been in bomb shelters over the last few days. Israel has a very sophisticated defense system," said Kevin Haworth of Israel's "Iron Dome." "That doesn't mean that it's perfectly safe of course it's not perfectly safe which is why everybody goes to the bomb shelter."
Haworth, an assistant English professor, had just finished leading an OU study abroad group in Tel Aviv, Israel for the "Israel Cultural and Political Intersections" program when the well-covered rocket exchange began. Even though this meant frequent trips to the bomb shelter, Haworth claimed that his students were not shaken by the experience.
"The students said that it actually gave them insight into what life in the region is like and it can change very quickly," Haworth said. "I asked them very directly if they felt like this created a negative experience for them and they said that it hadn't, in fact, it helped them sort of become aware of some of the realities of what it's like for people who live here all the time."
This is the fourth year Haworth has run the study abroad program, and he said he has been coming to Israel "on and off for about 20 years." Despite taking basic precautions and avoiding potentially dangerous areas, Haworth said he is "very comfortable" living in Tel Aviv. So comfortable that his eight- and 11-year-old children are also in Israel at a summer camp. The international youth camp is even further away than Tel Aviv, thus further from the conflict. He said that the camp is very familiar with bomb shelter drills and that the children practiced several while at the camp.
"The combination of the defense apparatus and the fact that Israelis take security very seriously when there's times of high conflict means that you just kind of...you just do it. You know where the shelters are and you know every building basically has a shelter...a siren goes off and you hear it and you have - depending on how close you are to Gaza - from a couple of minutes to 10 minutes to head to a shelter and, people do it," he said.
Haworth credited this sense of security for Israel's limited injuries during the rising conflict with Palestine.
"I am fairly confident in the system. Of course it's not foolproof and it's incredibly unnerving at times."
Although Haworth and his family are continuing with their plans to leave on Wednesday, he said that if their trip had been any longer they may have considered cutting it short.
"This is just life here sometimes," Haworth said. "I've been here many times over the years and sometimes things are very quiet and sometimes they're not."
Conflict arose in Israel about two weeks ago when two Israeli teens were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas. NPR's "Two Way" breaking news blog has the latest.