Raleigh, N.C. — For many living in the Triangle, the missiles and rockets falling in Israel and Gaza this past week hit close to home.
"It's hitting my neighborhood," said Israel Abitbol, a former Israeli Army officer who used to live 20 miles from Gaza. "Two years ago, one of those bombs hit my younger brother's high school, and I had to bring him and my mom to the States."
Abitbol's old neighborhood is again in the crossfire of another round of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. In the past five days, Gaza militants have fired more than 550 rockets into southern Israel, reaching Jerusalem, killing three people and injuring more than 60. Israel has launched more than 1,000 air strikes in Gaza, killing 70 people and injuring hundreds.
Abitbol's mother, father, sister and nephew take shelter in a safe room, a steel-encased concrete closet, in their home.
"I called his sister this morning. Every five minutes, she said, it's boom-boom, boom-boom," Abitbol's wife, Carlye, said.
Carlye Abibtol was born and raised in Raleigh but experienced a rocket attack during a recent trip to Israel.
"Five o'clock in the morning, I start hearing this 'whooo,'" she recalled. The sound of that siren meant she had 20 to 30 seconds to get to the safe room.
"It was so scary, and I just remember in the shelter, I was holding his mom. I was crying," Carlye Abibtol said.
During this latest conflict, Abitbol is keeping in touch with his family through online chats. He said he hopes for peace in the region, but for now, will settle for peace of mind.
Abibtol's younger brother and brother-in-law are both in the Israeli army. They are stationed near the Gaza border, from where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to launch a ground invasion if Egyptian-brokered cease-fire talks break down.