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Israelis Back in Bomb Shelters
Bomb Shelter at a kibbutz in northern Israel
by Judy Lash Balint
July 13, 2006

This morning dawned with an odd sight for Jerusalem in July. Cloudy skies. The grey pall over the city reflects the new reality that greets us this morning, the fast day of the 17th of Tammuz--the day that marks the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem in 586 BCE by the Roman army leading up to the destruction of the Temple three weeks later on Tisha B'Av.

The Three Weeks is traditionally a period of heaviness, sadness, reflecting a deep sense of loss. This year as the Three Weeks get underway, funerals of eight young Israelis have already started. Three more are missing, in the hands of Hizbollah and Hamas. And once again, after a respite of six short years after the withdrawal from Lebanon, Israelis in the north are waking up in bomb shelters. Bomb shelters that were officially cleaned out and closed when Ehud Barak told the nation that they would never be needed again.

As the morning wears on, the barrage of Katyushas continues: In one attack in the northern coastal town of Nahariya, one woman is killed and scores injures. The rockets reach the pastoral village of Rosh Pina for the first time in decades (no injuries reported).

There's a call-up underway for an entire division of army reserves--that's anyone up to the age of 45. People in Raanana report constant northward flyovers of Israeli jets.

I'm heading up to the eastern Golan for Shabbat--to Alonei Habashan, the closest Israeli community to the Syrian border. We'll see how long it will take for Syria, that holds Hizbollah's puppet strings along with Iran, to get involved.