American-Israeli family speaks out from bomb shelter as Hamas launches terror attack on their community

'I guess it's faith in God, but I don't doubt my decision to live here,' Givat Shmuel resident tells FOX

An American-Israel family described a harrowing scene on the ground in central Israel after Hamas jihadists directed rockets toward their residential community. 

Avishai and Esther Schlesinger huddled together with their one-year-old son in a bomb shelter late Tuesday as Palestinian terrorist groups fired a barrage of rockets into their hometown in Givat Shmuel.

Esther, a prominent personal trainer from New York who moved to Israel 16 years ago, told Fox News that she was startled when a siren went off just as her family prepared to sit down for dinner.

"We were just going about our night, we were in the middle of making dinner, we had food on the stove, and we all of the sudden heard the siren. It's so scary because in your head you want to think that it's not real...I heard the siren go off and I thought, 'that's a lot louder than the ones I've been hearing from videos on the news.'"

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Esther said she immediately ran to her son's room, who woke up afraid and disoriented from the noise.

"I didn't have time to grab anything. I didn't have time to grab my phone. We just ran into the shelter and we kept hearing explosion after explosion.

" I didn't have time to grab anything. I didn't have time to grab my phone. We just ran into the shelter and we kept hearing explosion after explosion."

— Esther Schlesinger, Fox News

"This is not something we experience all that often here," Esther emphasized. "Last night we were feeling bad for our friends down south who are experiencing this and we just never thought this would happen to us in the center of Israel."

As the Iron Dome intercepted rockets overhead, Esther and her husband held their crying infant and waited for the worst to pass. 

"It was terrifying...it's just so crazy that this is happening,  just the thought that any minute there could be an explosion on my entire house," she recalled.

"All I could think about while hearing all the booms and all the explosions outside was thank God I have my son in my arms and my husband right next to me."

Avishai made a "makeshift" crib for their infant, and dragged mattresses into the shelter when it appeared the rockets had reached a "lull." Esther grabbed "canned foods, flashlights, chargers, a can opener, diapers, and wipes" as they prepared to hunker down for the night.

"We're fairly certain that it's going to continue throughout the night, so we set everything up for us to sleep in there tonight," Avishai said. 

"I feel terrible for these parents who have to try to explain what's going on," Esther chimed in. "I literally was holding my son in the bomb shelter tonight thinking that I'm grateful that he isn't old enough to understand why I had to quickly grab him out of his crib and just run within 20 seconds into our bomb shelter, try to keep myself from crying and keep it together for him."

"I guess it's faith in God, but I don't doubt my decision to live here -- even in these crazy times. It's so important to me to be here as a Jew."

— Esther Schlesinger, Fox News

"We're both very shaken," she continued. "Avishai is staying strong for us but there's so much unknown. It's not fun thinking to yourself that at any second there could be an explosion on my entire house and hopefully, this tiny room will be strong enough to hold us inside."

Despite the mounting anxiety, Esther and Avishai said they are moved by the unity and support they've witnessed throughout the country as neighbors invited eachother to seek shelter in their homes and offered aid to other communities under attack.

"I guess it's faith in God, but I don't doubt my decision to live here. Even in these crazy times. It's so important to me to be here as a Jew," Esther said.

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"In this moment I was thinking, 'this is really important that I'm able to be here and we're all sticking together. There are so many stories I've heard from people tonight who were stuck, and the amount of people that were there for each other and said 'please take shelter with me, complete strangers, pulling fellow Israeli's into their homes to make sure that they're safe, it's chilling, and the series of events that happened tonight have only made my feelings of living here even stronger," she continued.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed stronger retaliation late Tuesday and declared that the terror groups responsible will "pay a dear price" for their attacks on Israeli civilians.