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July 20, 2006 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-07-20

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Life Underground

As Israelis hole
up in bomb
they're scared,
bored and

Larry Luxner

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Carmiel, Israel


olorful rainbows,
choo-choo trains and
flowers decorate the
walls of the neighborhood bomb
shelter in Carmiel, but amid the
overflowing toilets, foul smells
and tension of war last weekend,
nobody seemed to notice.
On Saturday and then again
on Sunday, more than 100 people
crammed into the underground
shelter as Katyusha rockets
launched by Hezbollah terror-
ists rained down on Carmiel, a

picturesque town nestled in the
mountains of northern Israel.
Crying babies and occasion-
ally hysterical mothers added to
the drama in a scene repeated
throughout the Galilee region —
from Nahariya, Acre and Kiryat
Shmona in the far north to towns
further south, like Rosh Pina,
Safed, Tiberias and Haifa, that
had never before seen rockets.
Between towns, the highways
were virtually deserted as Israelis
largely obeyed an order not to go
outside unless absolutely neces-
"For me, I can go to hell, but
it's my family I'm worried about,"
said Niso Levi, a 51-year-old
engineer who emigrated from
Albania in 1991, along with his
wife, Matilda, and daughters
Anna and Ilana.
The shelter, known in Hebrew
as a miklat, is a staple of every
residential complex in Israel. And
this one was supposed to protect
residents of Carmiel's Givat Ram
neighborhood in the event of an
attack. But neighbors complain
that the shelter's water pipes
are broken, that the toilets don't
work — and that the shelter was
locked by municipal authori-

nightmare," said Ya'ish. "I never
he said. "At the same time, I'm
thought this could happen."
not looking to be a hero. I have
In fact, the last time a missile
four children. I'm a veteran of
landed in this lakeside town of
the Lebanon War [in 1982], so it
45,000 was in 1971, and those
doesn't make any difference any-
rockets came from Jordan, not
more," he said.
With boredom creeping in,
After the mid-afternoon attack
political debates in the bomb
at the residential complex, a
shelters were inevitable, and
crowd quickly gathered at the
Armejanov was quick to offer his
site of the destruction, with one
opinions on the current crisis.
middle-aged man screaming at
"We made a big mistake when
we withdrew from Lebanon. This the TV cameras, "Nasrallah, we're
not afraid of you! We will destroy
gave Hezbollah time to build up
you!" referring to Hezbollah
their weapons:' he said, voicing
leader Sheik Hassan
an opinion shared by
Frightened residents Nasrallah.
many in the Galilee.
Beaches south
prepare to enter
"We need peace, but
of Tiberias, along
a bomb shelter in
you must pay for this
the shores of the
peace with blood," Levi Carmiel over the
Kinneret, were still
packed with vaca-
"The difference
tioners until they
between us and
were evacuated by police.
Hezbollah is that we give them a
Zohar Oved, the mayor of
warning first and we don't attack
civilians;' added Shuster Yafina, a Tiberias, believes his city was
targeted by Hezbollah because
recent immigrant from Moldova.
ties at the very moment it was
it's an international tourist des-
Yet not all of Carmiel's victims
needed the most.
of Hezbollah's aggression think
"This is ridiculous. We're
"We are a special community
Israel should launch a full-scale
paying as much in taxes as
and the people believe our gov-
invasion of Lebanon.
anyone else!" Ilana Fleischman
ernment is acting in the right
"We need our soldiers at
screamed, in full view of TV
direction. We cannot manage
home. They are our children:'
reporters that had come to cover
said Ludmila Daich, then quickly tourism with a situation like
the latest rocket devastation.
this," said Oved, noting that one
changing the subject. "I'm very
"The pipes are broken, the bath-
Katyusha fell within a few yards
sorry but I don't want to speak
room stinks. Nobody wants to
about politics. I can't think about of City Hall.
come here."
Asked if more Katyushas
that right now, only my grand-
Not that anyone has a choice.
will fall on Tiberias, he said,
son. Baruch Hashem [bless the
With the distant booming
"Unfortunately, yes. We're
Lord], we are alive."
of Katyusha rockets becoming
instructing the people to stay in
It was much the same story in
louder and more frequent, only
their homes."
Tiberias, which was hit by eight
a few brave souls ventured out
— and when one boom sounded Katyushas over the weekend.
Rocket Kills 1
Asher Ya'ish lives on the
particularly close, everyone
Outside Shelter
second floor of an apartment
rushed back into the shelter,
building in the city. One of those
some in near-hysteria.
Nahariya, Israel
missiles hit an apartment on
"In 1991, I was alone at home"
A Katyusha rocket Tuesday night
the fourth floor; fortunately its
when Scud missiles fell, "so for
killed a man who emigrated to
occupants were vacationing in
me, this is like a trauma:' said
Israel a few years ago from the
Tel Aviv.
Fleischman, explaining her ner-
former Soviet Union. He had just
"I was sitting with my kids on
vousness."When we woke up this
ushered his family into a bomb
morning with a boom, everybody the balcony, looking out at the
shelter in northern Israel.
Kinneret," said Ya'ish, 60. "Half
fell out of bed. Now my son
The man was standing outside
an hour before it happened, my
doesn't want to sleep alone."
the shelter entrance when the
daughter had arrived from Haifa,
Standing nearby was Aharon
rocket exploded. Several rockets
thinking it would be safer here."
Armejanov, a short, wiry
struck the town Tuesday evening
But safety is a relative term,
truck driver who was born in
and Western Galilee Hospital
and nobody feels it in Tiberias
Azerbaijan and moved to Israel
treated six people for light inju-
these days.
in 1974.
ries and 17 more for shock.
"I can't believe it. It's like a
"I am definitely not afraid,"

July 20 • 2006


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