Middle East violence hits home for Charlotte couple

A south Charlotte couple is closely monitoring the mounting violence in the Middle East.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A south Charlotte couple is closely monitoring the mounting violence in the Middle East.

Their daughter lives in Tel Aviv, and they also plan to join her in Israel next month.

For the first time in twenty years, rocket strikes near Israel's main international airport prompted US carriers to temporarily cancel flights to Tel Aviv.

The Grifenhagens say they hope the situation improves, so they can be with their daughter and grandson, especially since this week, their son-in-law will be heading out to serve in the Israeli National Army.

"I'm suppose to leave on August 6th, and I am going because I believe the defense in Israel is pretty strong, and we have to believe in them," said mother, Gloria Grifenhagen.

Gloria says while visiting her daughter in Israel two years ago, she saw first-hand the warning sirens go off, and the uncertainty that followed when seeking shelter.

"You think it is going to land on you any time. When I started hearing the rockets and I thought it was pretty close to the house, it scared me to death," she said.

"In the beginning, it was like, you know, it's not real, but then, 15 minutes after, they said, 'okay, let's get dressed now because we have to go to a wedding. They acted like it never happened" said Gloria.

Her daughter, Shara, by telephone from Tel Aviv shared her experiences with NBC Charlotte. She echoed similar attitudes when dealing with the daily sirens.

"The public is pretty well educated on what we should be doing and how we should behave if there is an air raid siren. I feel pretty lucky that I live in TelAviv where I have 90 seconds to take cover," said Shara Grifenhagen.

Shara says in other areas outside Tel Aviv, residents have less time to seek shelter.

Shara says moving closer to her in-laws where there are more public shelters, along with the country's use of the anti-missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome, helps ease her concerns living in Tel Avi.

She says she is trying to live a normal life, but remains vigilant.

"I find myself when I am walking from place to place now, I am definitely looking more as I pass buildings to see, if there is an open door or a safe place I can crouch if I needed to," said Shara.

Bill Grifenhagen, Shara father, says a year after their daughter moved to Tel Aviv in 2005, the Lebanon War broke out. He says, having endured that period of uncertainty, they are better prepared to handle the latest round of violence.

"When that broke out, Gloria immediately called Shara and she sa'aid, 'you need to come home', and Shara's answer was: 'I am home.' What can you say to that?" asked, Bill Grifenhagen.

"She often tells us she was much more scared living in Durham, and in Tuscson, than she is in Tel Aviv. Other than situations like this, we don't spend a lot of our emotions worrying about her, because she loves her life there, she has a great life in Israel," said Bill.


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