Emma is a graduate of a British university whom I have known for almost a decade. She now lives in Tel Aviv.

This is her story of Israeli life amid the Iranian drone and missile strikes early Sunday.

I went on Friday morning to Jerusalem to visit my brother and his family for the weekend.

Everyone was exercising their usual amount of caution. In times of tension, people are aware of the location of their nearest safe room. This week, even with the news of Iran floating around, in central Tel Aviv and Jerusalem people generally were not on guard.

My brother and his family observe Shabbat, so from Friday night until Saturday evening we were not use electricity. There was no social media, and our phones were off. Just after 8 p.m. on Saturday, we learned that the homefront authorities had changed the advise for the entire country. All educational facilities — schools, after-school clubs, and nurseries would be closed from Saturday at 11 p.m. until Monday evening. Gatherings of more than 1000 people were banned.

Slowly we received information about Iranian missiles on their way to Israel. Other countries in the Middle East were closing their airspace. My brother, sister-in-law and I were sitting, waiting for the Iranian attack and what would happen next. My brother’s children — ages 9, 6 and 4 — had gone to sleep before Shabbat had ended.

Since Passover is next week, and observant Jewish people “spring clean” their houses to remove crumbs of leavened food like bread, we stayed up cleaning and waiting for more news. I finally lay down in bed, but at 1.44 a.m. I heard explosions in the distance which sounded like powerful thunder during a storm. They drew closer and grew louder. People outside were shouting, and then the sirens began.

In Tel Aviv, our safe room in one of my housemate’s bedrooms is modern. My brother’s sxith-floor apartment in an older building isn’t quite up to that standard. There was one big shelter on the ground floor for all residents.

In October, the last time I was in this shelter, my sister-in-law picked up my niece as my brother shepherded my nephews down the stairs. Now, heavily pregnant, she had to take her time, so I grabbed my 4-year-old niece.

During the initial phase of the war in October and November, it was not so shocking to be awoken by sirens. However, as there have not been sirens over Jerusalem for quite some time, my nephews were hard to rouse. My older nephew knows a lot about Iran and nuclear weapons development — they seem to talk about this at school, and it is an apparent consequence of growing up in the Middle East. But he was really shocked that the Iranians was attacking.

I think we stayed in the shelter for about 25 minutes in our pajamas — it was very cold. We could hear air defenses intercepting the missiles and drones. After the final one, we had to wait 10 minutes until leaving the safe room until the threat of falling shrapnel or even an entire rocket.

When we returned upstairs, we didn’t get back to sleep. I suppose we were waiting for more sirens.

In the end, it was only the one alert. I heard that my workplace did not need me to come in on Sunday morning. Still, it seemed like it was smarter to return to Tel Aviv rather than to wait and see what happened next.

I took the light rail — a tram on the roads — through Jerusalem from my brother’s apartment to the main train station. I sat next to a woman wearing a head covering. Looking around at everyone’s very tired eyes, I realized that though we might be Christian Arabs, Muslim Arabs, Jews, tourists, Palestinians, we were all sheltering from the same rockets the night before. Outside the tram’s windows, residents were sitting in the sunshine, drinking coffee, as if nothing really happened.

I caught the train across the country from Tel Aviv, after Googling what you are meant to do if you hear a siren while onboard. I sifted through all the messages on my phone.

My parents had returned from the synagogue, where they prayed and supported other community members who had family and friends in Israel. They were relieved to know their two kids and all the grandchildren were safe and together, but they were equally stressed and even hysterical because of the media they had consumed all night long.

I feel lucky that I was in Jerusalem over the weekend. If I was in Tel Aviv and heard about the sirens over my brother’s city, I would have joined my parents in their worry and stress. Seeing with my own eyes that my brother, sister-law, and niece and nephews were OK was the best way for me to be reassured.

I think that is why it’s so difficult to explain to family members outside Israel that, although the reports were through the night, the events only lasted 20 minutes or so. My friends in Tel Aviv tell me, “It would be better if I had an interesting story. Instead all I have is, ‘I went to bed on Saturday night, slept really well, and woke up on Sunday morning’.” Everything definitely looks much worse in the media.

Israel is a country with so many enemies and reasons to worry that, if you halt your entire life here every time there is a threat in the Middle Eastern neighborhood, you would achieve nothing. So areas are set up where you can go about your everyday life, and run to a shelter when you need to.

If Iran wanted to do damage, they would have attacked Israel with missiles from Hezbollah, which can reach Israel with far less notice for Israelis to run for shelter. I think Iran wanted to see the world’s response and who would come to Israel’s aid.

I believe that the average Israeli would want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “quit while he is ahead” after the anti-missile technology of Israel and its partners succeeded in defending the land with 99% accuracy. However, I don’t think Netanyahu will allow Iran to launch such an attack and not retaliate: he won’t want to give the impression that one can strike Israel and get away scot-free.

Iran’s attack has somewhat validated the Israeli leadership’s rationale for war. The difficulty in distinguishing between an innocent Gazan and a Hamas “terrorist” makes it difficult to understand Israel’s methods and tactics since October 7. But defending itself against Iran? That ensures genuine backing for Israel in its declared fight.