Jamie Skeen admits he knew virtually nothing of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict before two years ago. To him, war was in some faraway place like Iraq. He certainly didn’t envision war would come to his doorstep.
But earlier this year, Skeen, the star of VCU’s 2011 Final Four run, found himself caught in the crossfire of the decades-old conflict. Skeen is currently playing for Maccabi Ashdod in Israel’s top division. In the middle of one November practice, team owners abruptly sent players and coaches home and told them to prepare for rocket attacks.
Skeen ran to the locker room to gather his clothes. That’s when they heard the first warning siren, which signals incoming rockets.
“When you hear the siren, you have 20 seconds to get to the safe room,” Skeen says, referring to a reinforced structure within many residences and buildings in the region.
He rushed back to his apartment and his girlfriend, Whitney. The next morning, Skeen says rockets began scorching through the air five and six at a time as people began their daily commute. The rocket attacks would persist for eight days. He says one rocket landed a short walk from his apartment.
“When one lands, your whole apartment building shakes,” he said.