Under Fire, part 33

Day 23: The morning starts out quietly and I figure that it is a good time to make an emergency run to the post office, bank, and drugstore. As I leave the house, I see my neighbors getting into their car, and we end up at the post office at the same time. We stand inside the glass doors, chatting nervously, and it occurs to me that our little neighborhood post office is frightfully tiny, flimsy, and exposed. My neighbor notices the envelope I am holding; “Let me mail that for you,” he says. “No reason for all of us to wait here.” I thankfully zip back out to my car and head, as fast as safely possible, to my bank. The bank is closed, but the lobby area, always left accessible, houses an ATM and another computerized system for depositing checks. From there, it is off to the drugstore. I scoot inside and grab the items I need. But I have no sooner finished paying for my purchases when the sirens go off, and the store employees herd us into the bomb shelter in the back of the store. At least half of the employees are Arabs, and they call friends and family to check where the hit was. “Nahaf,” reports one young woman, referring to the small Arab village right across the highway from this shopping center. “It is the same every Friday,” complains another woman. “They get all fired up in the mosques during morning prayers, and then Hezbullah starts up again.” (I should point out that the majority of Israel’s Christian and Druze Arab population lives here in the north.)

I get home and unload the car. We have an hour of relative quiet before one of the heaviest bombardments yet begins. Karmiel is rocked with what feels like dozens of ketushot. The sirens go off repeatedly, but in reality, the rockets never seem to really stop. This is the time for Amnesty International to be here and get a sense of what this is about. (They are currently here touring the north, assessing damage.)

Yesterday’s numbers are awful. Eight people in the north killed, including several in a Christian Arab village next to Ma’alot (just up the mountain from us). Over 200 ketoshot are fired into Israel in one afternoon.

We’re supposed to go to the kibbutz tonight to have Shabbat dinner with Gill’s father. Family is important, I say, trying to psyche myself up to leave the relative safety of the house and sit in a potential gasoline bomb, totally exposed to the firing area for an agonizing 45 minutes. Hmmmm.

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