Israel-Hezbollah War

A view of the July-August 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war from an Israeli living in Haifa (under Katyusha rocket attack)- send personal comments to

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

War dairy (2)

The big picture
It’s difficult to believe that all this started only 6 days ago when Hezbollah fighters mounted a daring (and unprovoked) border raid against a routine Israeli army patrol apparently with the express purpose of capturing an Israeli soldier for bargaining against Lebanese guerilla fighters and terrorists in Israeli jails. From Hezbollah’s point of view, they want their boys back. From Israel’s point of view, the Lebanese that are held in Israeli jails, if released, will go back to planning or making war against Israel. The last time around an Israeli businessman (with strong military connections) and 3 Israeli soldiers were kidnapped, Israel agreed to a very disproportionate deal of releasing hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in exchange for the “businessman” and the bodies of the 3 soldiers who had been murdered. A lot of people in Israel felt uncomfortable at the time about that deal and it almost certainly encouraged the Hezbollah into more kidnapping in the belief that the weak-kneed Israelis would again pay a huge price to get our people back. Israel’s Prime Minister Olmert seems very determined to push through the message that Israel won’t play that game anymore and will not tolerate aggression across agreed International borders.

The Israeli public is now keenly aware that the Hezbollah is but the well-trained, well-armed and well-financed local arm of the Iranians who are happy to stir up trouble in Israel/Palestine while continuing to strive for their own nuclear arsenal. Hezbollah is reputed to have over 13,000 rockets that can be fired against Israel. In the last 6 days Hezbollah has fired 816 rockets into Israel in the last 6 days killing 17 civilians and injuring over four hundred. The Israeli Air Force has carried out over 1000 sorties against targets in Lebanon in which 206 Lebanese fighters and civilians have been killed. Many millions of dollars of damage have been caused in Lebanon and over half a million Lebanese have fled their homes at least temporarily. In absolute terms the Lebanese people, particularly in the south of Lebanon where most of the Shias live are going through a terrible time. Most of the Shias support the Hezbollah and many Shias have offered shelter for Hezbollah fighters and weaponry.

The small (but personal) picture
Yesterday 20 Hezbollah rockets hit Haifa, most causing minor damage but some causing direct hits on buildings and injuring people. The air raid sirens went off six times, the first time at 6am and the last at about 10pm. Every time Irit and I rushed down with out dog to the shelter we have in the basement. I just realised the most of you (living in the peaceful Western world) don’t know that Israel not only has public air raid shelters but , for the last 30 years or so has required all new apartments and houses to have one room – with 30cm thick concrete walls and a steel door – which can act as a family shelter in the case of bomb attacks. For people with larger houses (like ours) the shelter is used normally as a storeroom, others use them as work spaces or spare bedrooms. After the first massive rocket attack on Haifa on Sunday (in which 8 railway workers were killed) the civil defence authorities sound air raid sirens when rockets are flying towards Haifa – and these give us about 40 seconds warning before the first impact (often several rockets land within a few minutes of one another). When we see (later) the pictures on television of direct hits on homes and the destruction they wreak, we realize that, in the very unlikely case of a direct hit on one’s home, it’s definitely a good idea to be in the shelter which gives more than adequate protection. On the other hand, hearing the wail of the air raid sirens and knowing that you might get hit in the next few minutes is pretty scary. Yesterday afternoon Irit and I wanted to rest a bit, and 3 times in the space of an hour we were raised from our bed and ran down 2 flights of stairs to the shelter in the basement. The last time we were in shelters was in the first Gulf War in 1991 when Scud missiles were fired from Iraq against Israel – that wasn’t much fun either although the damage and injuries inflicted were much less than this time. After the 3 alarms yesterday afternoon, Irit and I decided to drive down to Tel Aviv for a few hours to visit her elder daughter. Tel Aviv is (so far) out of the range of Hezbollah rockets and unlike Haifa, life there continues as usual. In Haifa most shops and workplaces are closed and the streets are fairly empty. We just heard the muffled sound of a siren (one’s ear gets very attentive to it) – might be in a neighbouring area – otherwise it’s been quiet since last night.


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