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 david2@lisbona.com

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

War dairy (3)

So far today 6 rockets have fallen on Haifa – there were no sirens for some of the attacks – we just heard the “booms” of the explosions from inside the house. It’s not very loud (say, like a supersonic boom of an aircraft) but that’s because all the rockets that have landed so far are rather far from our house – at least 4 or 5 kilometers. We spoke yesterday to good friend of ours from Carmiel, a town further north in the Galilee, who told us that a Katyusha rocket landed 2 days ago 150 metres from her office and that the whole building shook. She meanwhile has taken refuge with her daughter in Tel Aviv. Another friend from Rosh Pinna, also up in the north has gone to stay with her sister near Netanya. Back in 1991 when Israel suffered Scud missile attacks, there was a lot of ambivalence about whether it was “right” for people to move away from the worst areas and seek refuge in safer pastures – many did and many didn’t. This time there seem to be no such hesitations – whoever feels they want to get away , and they can (they have family or friends in the centre of the country, they can afford it) does. We hear on the news that the hotels in Eilat have are very full (and have put up their prices) but it is unclear how many of the guests are from up north or just tourists who have gone down south because nobody is vacationing in the north.

So far the southernmost points in Israel which have been bombed by the Hezbollah are Haifa and Tiberias (on the Sea of Galilee) – see map at http://www.debka.com/doc/missiles.html (www.debka.com has a lot of info on the situation) . Hezbollah apparently has some longer-range missiles which could reach Tel-Aviv or even beyond. So far there have been no missile attacks on Tel Aviv (where my 2 daughters Daphnie and Tami live) and there life continues pretty much as normal with everyone going to work and cafes, shops and restaurants full as usual. Haifa, by contrast, is rather quiet – most workplaces, shops and restaurants are closed and there’s little traffic on the streets and only one couple we know has left Haifa so far. However many of the towns further north, especially those which have had many rocket hits like Naharia, Tsfat, Carmiel are apparently like ghost towns with residents supposed to stay the whole time in air-raid shelters. A resident of Naharia came out for a bit of fresh air yesterday and was killed by a direct hit. Irit’s eldest son wanted to take his family today to Tel-Aviv for a break but heard that there was an alert in the centre of the country for a suicide bomber – with lots of roadblocks and traffic jams – so they found somewhere else to get away for a few hours.

Several of you have asked how my Dad (will be 95 in September) is doing in all this. Well, he’s doing pretty well. He and those of his generation have suffered worse stuff in their lives and they seem to take it in their stride. Irit and I go almost every day to eat lunch with him in the beautiful assisted living apartment block in which he lives. Two days ago the air raid siren went off when we were in the restaurant there and I was pleasantly surprised by how calm most of the old folks seem to be. Today the siren caught us in the car on the way to my Dad. I stopped the car by the side of the road and Irit and I rushed into the garden of a nearby house hoping to find cover. But there was none and Irit was rather upset. Nothing happened to us and of course rationally I understand that, at the present rate of shelling (that sounds bad..), it’s very unlikely statistically that we would be hurt. But it can happen, and if the sirens go off, it’s definitely preferable to be in an enclosed space, ideally a concrete air-raid shelter. On the other hand, one feels very cooped up staying at home all day and being afraid to go out. It’s very weird how, suddenly, usually banal decisions like going out to see my Dad can become major decisions. I have already mentioned previously that the air-raid sirens are a mixed blessing since they raise fear as well as helping decrease risk – furthermore in the last couple of days we have witnessed more cases of hits without alarms or false alarms than real ones.

Like in the Gulf war one tries to find a logic to the time of day or intensity or location of the rocket attacks but there seems to be none. Israeli TV reports that the air force is pounding Hezbollah launching pads, units, munitions depots and supply lines but to date we cannot feel any significant let-up in the number of or fatalities and injuries from the rocket attacks. We just heard that 3 people (2 of them children) were killed by a rocket attack on the Arab-Israeli town of Nazareth. What irony for them to die in vain at the hands of their Arab brethren. It’s pretty amazing that there have been quite a few rocket attacks also on other Arab communities in Israel – either they can’t aim or they don’t care.

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