MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — The war between Israel and Hamas may be thousands of miles away but right here in West Virginia, a WVU professor can recount his experiences in the region when he and his students were on a school trip in Israel in 2006 and without warning, were in the middle of a war.
Dr. Aaron Gale, an Associate Professor in the program for Religious Studies at WVU said that he has traveled to Israel many times and has felt safe. However, the new war between Israel and Hamas reminded him of his experience with his students in 2006 with the start of the Israel-Hezbollah War.
Dr. Gale and his students were on an archaeological trip in the south of Israel and had traveled to the north to visit a new site less than 100 miles from the border. At the site, they kept hearing loud booms and noises but Dr. Gale explained that those are sounds typically heard in Israel due to constant military training operations. He said, “There’s a saying if Israelis panic, you panic. If Israelis don’t panic, you don’t panic.”
“Hearing loud explosions and noises and seeing jet fighters is very routine in Israel. On that particular day, my students were touring a site and the Israeli bus driver started frantically pounding on his horn and motioning for the students to ‘Come back! Come back!’ And however he found out, the bus driver realized that that moment that this was not a drill. I mean literally this was an enemy combatant you know this was a war going on. So my students were able all safely thank goodness to get back on the bus and head south back to Bethsaida the area where we were digging,” Gale said.
Dr. Gale said that he and his students were able to continue their trip as the start of the war in 2006 was regional to the north of Israel. He said that he believes this time around is different than 17 years ago as Hamas’ attack on Israel has been all across the country and not in a certain region. He said that based on the way Israel has responded and declared war on Hamas, it is likely this war will not be seeing any resolution anytime soon.