It was 11 am on Shabbat, Dec 27. I will never forget the date because it was my 24th birthday. After morning prayers and kiddush I was chatting with some of my fellow American soldiers on our base. We were stationed at Kissufim, just outside of Gaza.

Then we heard it. A large successive booming unlike the usual mortars that landed near our base daily. We scrambled to respond. We soon discovered, however, that it was our own air force bombing Gaza like never before.

I am part of Paratroopers 890 heavy weapons and mobile recon. We respond in hummers to threats on the border. And my specialties include sharpshooter and spike missile. We set up an ambush on the border watching and waiting. By now it was evening. We were monitoring Hamas movements when one of our tanks rolled by on a patrol. Apparently Hamas tried to mortar the tank, but the shell landed a lot closer to us, about 30 meters (100 feet) away.

I think that's what I hate most about mortars. You don't know when they are coming, where they are coming from, and therefore you can't shoot back. Just as we were trying to determine where the next mortar would land, I saw a huge blast, almost like a mushroom cloud, in the distance. And, just like delayed thunder, the impact followed ten seconds later. Our air force hit them again.

Not long after I saw the eerie glow of a kassam flying out of Gaza. The entire region echoed with the alarms. The warning system consists of a cold, feminine voice calmly declaring "Tzeva Adom (Color Red)." But here all the alarms of various kibbutzim and settlements sounded simultaneously. The residents had 5-7 seconds to find shelter. Sure enough, a blinding flash of light, as if from a giant camera, came after. And then the boom followed, also delayed like distant thunder.

While this was the most intense I personally had seen the bombing, the sad truth is that bombardment has become a part of the daily lives of Israeli Jews living in the southern parts of Israel.