CINCINNATI - A Batavia man is enduring air raid sirens in potential life and death situations while living in Israel where air strikes continued Monday.
Devin Patchell, 25, a former student of Clermont Northeastern High School in Batavia, is currently living in Israel while attending medical school at The Medical School for International Health, a collaborative program with Ben-Gurion University and Columbia University. His parents, Ken and Betty Patchell, and sister Cody, still live in the Batavia area.
Patchell has been living in Be'er Sheva, Israel for a year and a half, and will be staying another 18 months before returning to the United States to finish his studies at Columbia University in New York. Be'er Sheva is approximately 25 miles from the Gaza Strip where most of the attacks have taken place.
“Over the past five days, I have witnessed a marked increase in military activity, from both sides of the situation," Patchell said in an exclusive Skype interview with 9 News Monday. "Here in Be'er Sheva, dozens of missiles have been falling, which are shot from Gaza. Most of these missiles are caught by the Iron Dome, which hits the missile in mid-air before it reaches its target. I have seen numerous military aircrafts making their way to Gaza. Soldiers are taking trains and buses south, preparing for a potential ground invasion.”
(Video submitted by Patchell on YouTube after air-raid sirens sound in Be'er Sheva, Israel).
When asked if he feels safe, Patchell said, “I am somewhat used to the air-raid siren drill, as they have occurred in the past here in Be'er Sheva. Fortunately, my apartment has a built-in bomb shelter, so I feel safe when the sirens sound.”
"When the air raid sirens go off, you have about 60 seconds to get to a shelter," Patchell continued.
Classes have been canceled for Patchell, because of the threat of safety. He is not looking to come back to the United States, though he said his family would be overjoyed to see him safe at home, and says that if the situation escalates, he will stay to volunteer in the emergency room.
“At this point, I am hoping a cease fire is reached and the violence lets up soon. I hope to return to my studies soon,” Patchell said.
The violence around the Gaza Strip has escalated over the past few days and the civilian death toll continues to rise. Diplomatic efforts persisted Monday as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon arrived in Cairo to see what he could do to encourage truce talks.
(Video of air-raid sirens sounding in Be'er Sheva, Israel).
United States President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres said the first step toward ending hostilities is for militants to halt rocket attacks on Israel.
To hear Patchell's account of the situation in an exclusive Skype interview from Israel, click play on the video above (mobile users, go to a browser version of WCPO.com to view the video).
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