Mid East Crisis UPDATE 8/19
Friday, August 18, 2006
OLMERT, PERES: YESHA WITHDRAWAL - NOT FOR NOW
By Hillel Fendel
PM Olmert told Kadima party colleagues this week he realizes that his
unilateral withdrawal plan is irrelevant for now. Shimon Peres, in
U.S. , says the Lebanese war has lowered the plan's chances.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Kadima members that he cannot ignore
the fact that something very basic has changed in Israel over the past
few weeks, and that he must now adapt his government's agenda
Speaking with leading Kadima Party officials, Haaretz reports, Olmert
said he cannot ignore the situation in Judea and Samaria , but that
rebuilding the north will now take up most of the government's time
Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres, too, does not see Olmert's
unilateral withdrawal plan occurring in the near future - and possibly
not at all. Speaking with American Jews in New York Thursday night,
Peres said that the war in Lebanon "lowered the chances" for a
unilateral Disengagement-like retreat from Judea and Samaria . He said
that Israel must now focus on bilateral negotiations.
The Kadima Party - founded by Ariel Sharon, headed by Ehud Olmert, and
joined by Shimon Peres after many decades in the Labor Party - has
based itself chiefly on one concept: a unilateral withdrawal from most
of Judea and Samaria . If the idea is now shelved, Kadima will have to
reformulate its agenda.
Several Kadima members have been quoted, and a few have even gone on
record, as opposing Olmert's plan. MK David Tal, formerly of Shas and
Labor-One Nation, recently said that in light of the two-front war
forced upon Israel , "there is nothing to talk about now regarding
further expulsions and unilateral moves. The whole idea of
unilateralism has been shown to be worthless."
Minister Meir Sheetrit said, even before the Lebanese war, that he
opposes the concept of a retreat from Judea and Samaria. A long-time
supporter of the Disengagement ever since his days in the Likud,
Sheetrit said six weeks ago that a unilateral withdrawal is liable to
endanger Israel. "The reality has shown that an Israeli retreat with
no coordination with the other side is a mistake," Sheetrit said, "and
could bring the threat of Kassam rockets right to the center of
Meanwhile, another Kadima member, Justice Minister Chaim Ramon,
announced today (Friday) that he will resign his post on Sunday. This
follows the decision announced last night by Attorney General Menachem
Mazuz to indict him on charges of sexual harassment.
Ramon left the Labor Party and joined Kadima just days after Ariel
Sharon founded it last November, and strongly supported the retreats
from Lebanon and Gaza, as well as a unilateral withdrawal from Judea
and Samaria. If Olmert appoints a replacement for Ramon, it is said
that he will choose from among Minister Sheetrit, Interior Minister
Roni Bar-On, or - a long shot - former Justice Minister Dan Meridor.
August 16, 2006, 22 Av 5766
LEBANESE CEASEFIRE PLAN IN JEOPARDY
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The U.N. ceasefire plan is falling apart, leaving the possibility
Hizbullah will re-arm itself while Israel's hands are tied by
Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni told CNN Tuesday that the government has
evidence that Iran and Syria already are supplying Hizbullah
terrorists with more arms via Syria. The government is relying on
United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 - the ceasefire - to
solve the problem, but the agreement appears to have been followed by
more problems than solutions.
France has provided the latest hitch in the deployment of the proposed
international United Nations force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The French
General in charge of UNIFIL was quoted in a French newspaper as saying
that it could take up to a year to deploy the forces.
Paris has promised to send thousands of troops to lead the
international force to carry out the ceasefire resolution, which
requires "the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that...
there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of
the Lebanese State."
However, the resolution also calls for "no foreign forces in Lebanon
without the consent of its government," and Lebanon already has said
it will not force Hizbullah give up its arms. The French defense
minister also has said its forces will not take away arms from
Hizbullah terrorist guerillas.
Thousands of French soldiers are on ships ready to sail to Lebanon,
but the government now is backtracking, wanting a clear definition of
its mandate and when soldiers can open fire, according to the The
In a classic "chicken and egg" situation, the French government has
said it does not want to commit how many soldiers it will send until
other countries commit themselves. However, most nations have said
they will act only after France takes the lead. Germany, a major
European Union power, still is hesitating. The government has agreed
in principle to send troops, but they may be deployed in non-sensitive
areas to prevent the unwanted situation of German soldiers firing on
Israeli troops or vice-versa.
Deployment of an international force is complicated by the presence of
Hizbullah terrorist guerillas . Theoretically, the 18-mile swath of
land south of the Litani River to the Israeli border will be manned by
Lebanese troops, who have been absent for two decades from the area
where Hizbullah has been firmly entrenched.
The Lebanese government is approaching a compromise solution that
would leave Hizbullah armed on condition its weapons are concealed.
This violates the UN resolution, which states in Paragraph 8 that
southern Lebanon must remain free of armed groups other than the
Lebanese Army and UNIFIL.
However, Arutz-7's Hillel Fendel notes, the situation is muddled by
the presence of a contradictory clause; Paragraph 3 "emphasizes [as
opposed to 'calls for' - ed.] the importance of the extension of the
control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory... so
that there will be no weapons without the consent of the Government of
In any event, leaving Hizbullah armed keeps a status quo situation
which U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has insisted would not
.Israel has agreed to withdraw its troops in conjunction with the
deployment of the new international UNIFIL force, which is to patrol
along with the Lebanese army. The AP quoted unnamed IDF sources as
saying the withdrawal could begin as early as Thursday. But the plan
is dependent on the deployment of Lebanese troops, which so far have
remained north of the Litani River. The Lebanese government has not
been able to meet to discuss the deployment because of divisions
within the government, which includes two representatives of the
Hizbullah terrorist organization and another three ministers who are
In response to a question asking why Lebanon does not take steps to
disarm Hizbullah, McCormack replied, "Well, what we are saying is the
Lebanese people have a choice. They have to decide their own
Hizbullah arch-terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah also has refused to
give up his weapons. The IDF discovered many of them during the war,
including advanced rockets, throughout southern Lebanon. Nasrallah,
resting on the laurels of having prevented Israel from returning the
two IDF soldiers his terrorists kidnapped, said in a televised speech
Monday night that those calling for disarmament are guilty of
"insensitivity and immorality."
Australian synagogue vandalized
A synagogue on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia,
was attacked for the second time in two weeks.
On Monday night, vandals hurled concrete blocks at the
doors of the Parramatta synagogue.
Two weeks ago, a group of men described by witnesses
as being of Middle Eastern appearance threw blocks at
the compound, damaging Rabbi Yossi Wernick's two cars
and his residence, situated next to the synagogue.
The synagogue is isolated from the major part of the
community in Sydney and is close to areas with a high
JTA Breaking News
Iran launches cartoon exhibition on the Holocaust
TEHRAN - An exhibition of more than 200 cartoons about
the Holocaust opened Monday as Iran's response to last
year's Muslim outrage over a caricature of the Prophet
Mohammed in a Danish newspaper.
The display, showing 204 entries from Iran and abroad,
was strongly influenced by the views of Iran's
hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who drew
widespread condemnation last year for calling the
Holocaust a "myth" and saying Israel should be
One cartoon by Indonesian Tony Thomdean shows the
Statue of Liberty holding a book on the Holocaust in
its left hand and giving a Nazi-style salute with the
It came following worldwide protests by Muslims
against the Mohammed cartoon published by the Danish
newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Many Muslims considered the
cartoon offensive and a violation of traditions
prohibiting images of their prophet.
Hamshahri said it wanted to test the West's tolerance
for drawings about the Nazi killing of 6 million Jews
in World War II.
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2006 14:54:18 EDT
Reserves Demo Calling for Gov't to Resign Tonight
Thursday, August 17, 2006 / 23 Av 5766
(IsraelNN.com) A group of reserve soldiers, who were recently
discharged and are setting up a forum, have called upon Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and Foreign
Minister Tsipi Livni to resign. Tonight the soldiers will be holding
a demonstration at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv at 7p.m.
The demonstration is expected to be the first of several, under the
banner, "You failed - resign!"
In a petition publicized by the forum, the public is asked to sign
the following: "We are very worried about the fate of the country.
From all ends of the political spectrum, we are calling upon the
government, headed by the prime minister, to take personal
responsibility for its failure and resign. We believe that we have
the power as individuals rallying together, to declare, 'Never
Fire Olmert today!
Have a nice day
Defense Minister: IDF didn't warn me of missile threat in the north
17 August 2006
When Defense Minister Amir Peretz took office four months ago,
Hezbollah and the missile threat were at the bottom of the priority
list senior IDF officers presented him, Peretz says.
In private conversations over the past few days, Peretz said officers
did not tell him there was a strategic threat to Israel, and did not
present him with all relevant information about the missile threat.
"Conclusions should not be drawn regarding individuals while the
battle is still being fought," Peretz said in these conversations,
leading listeners to believe he is waiting for Chief of Staff Dan
Halutz to resign. Halutz has admitted to selling his stock portfolio
hours after Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, triggering the
Meanwhile, Halutz told senior officers in a recent meeting that upon
his request, IDF information security had given him a list of all
phone calls received and made by officers, alluding to the fact that
he knew which generals had been leaking information to the press.
Soldier's release could not be tied to agreement
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a meeting with the families of
kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser that there was no
chance of tying the entire ceasefire agreement to the release of
Truce deal disappoints hostages' families:
By Aviram Zino -- YNet News -- August 13, 2006
Following meeting with prime minister, families of soldiers kidnapped
by Hizbullah express deep disappointment that UN ceasefire resolution
fails to include practical clause stipulating soldiers' safe return.
Following a Sunday meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the
families expressed deep distress that the government did not manage
to include operative steps towards getting a practical arrangement
for their release in the frame of the ceasefire deal or even a sign
of life from their loved ones.
The meeting was also attended by Maj. Gen. (Res.) Uzi Dayan and
Attorneys Yaakov Neeman and Mordechai Algarabaly, who organized a
delegation to Paris some weeks ago to seek aid towards the hostages'
'It's very difficult on the families'
Eyal Regev, brother of kidnapped soldier Eldad Regev, said, "Not only
does the return of the soldiers not appear in the operative clause,
but (the agreement) doesn't even include the demand to get a sign of
life or a Red Cross visit. It's very difficult on the families to not
have any official information on their sons' welfare after 33 days.
This was noted to the prime minister.
"My feeling is that if the matter of the kidnapped soldiers was
written as an operative clause it would have practical weight, and
therefore we asked for an explanation. We very much hope that in the
end the government won't forget the kidnapped soldiers and will act
for their return home as soon as possible," he added.
The Families Kidnapped troops' families want answers: Ahiya Raved
Families of soldiers held in Hizbullah captivity say 'we do not
understand why call for release of troops not included in operative
part of ceasefire resolution,' but stress that they 'trust the
government on the matter'
August 15, 2006
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's Latest Speeches on Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV
VIEWED IN ALL 192 COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD
The following are excerpts from the two speeches.
August 12, 2006
"The Cessation of Hostilities Will Be Respected by the Resistance"
Hassan Nasrallah: "Today, we are facing the natural, logical, and
possible results of the great steadfastness displayed by the Lebanese
in the different battlefields."
"In the event that a time is set for the cessation of what was called
hostility - they can call it what they like... If an agreement is
reached for a specific time, following the efforts of the U.N.
secretary-general and in coordination with Lebanon and the enemy's
government... Any time that will be declared for the cessation of
hostilities will be respected by the resistance without any
hesitation. Within this context, before and after this declaration, I
stress that the resistance is a reaction, and therefore, when the
hostile Israeli actions cease, the reactions displayed by the
resistance will consequently and natural cease."
"We said we agreed to the idea of deploying the Lebanese army,
reinforced by the UNIFIL forces, and we adhere to this position. When
it is decided to deploy the army and the UNIFIL forces, they will
encounter, on the part of the resistance, all the cooperation, the
facilitation, and the necessary readiness, Allah willing."
"As Long As the Israelis Continue their Occupation and Aggression,
Resistance is Our Natural Right"
"As long as there is Israeli military activity and an Israeli attack
on the ground, and as long as Israeli soldiers occupy our land, it is
our natural right to confront and fight them, and to defend our
lands, our homes, and ourselves. Naturally, therefore, as long as the
Israelis continue their occupation and aggression, resistance is our
natural right and the right of the entire Lebanese people. We will
carry out this resistance in any way that we consider to be efficient
and effective. In this context, and as was mentioned yesterday in the
speeches preceding the vote on the international resolution, the 1996
'April Understandings' will be the deciding framework for field
confrontations of this kind. I say that we naturally adhere to the
'April Understandings,' and we call upon the enemy to adhere to these
How Israel fights:What the media does not report
By Jonathan Kay
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Late on Saturday night, an Israeli
commando unit landed by helicopter on a beach near the Lebanese city
of Tyre. None of the soldiers wore military markings. All had grown
beards, so observers would think they were just another group of
After landing, the soldiers made their way to a building that housed
a three-man Hezbollah rocket-launcher crew. From intelligence
reports, the commandos knew the trio was holed up in a second-floor
The Israeli commander was the first through the door, and promptly
took a bullet through a lung. The Israelis fired back. When the smoke
cleared, all three Hezbollah members were dead. The Israeli commander
was still breathing - but only barely. Another commando was also
As the commandos left - their two wounded on stretchers - they were
attacked by Hezbollah gunmen spilling out of nearby buildings.
Israeli helicopter gunships hovering nearby laid down a covering
fire, allowing the commandos to retreat to their original landing
area. After a military doctor performed emergency surgery that saved
the commander's life, the whole team flew back to Israel.
These mission details sound like something out of a Hollywood film.
But the truly amazing part of it is that the mission happened at all.
Instead of risking the lives of its most elite soldiers, Israel
easily could have dropped a bomb on the building and taken out their
targets while they slept.
Why didn't Israel do just that? Because as well as serving as a
barracks for Hezbollah, the building also contained civilians. And
Israel didn't want to spill their blood. Hezbollah may wage war while
hiding behind women's skirts and baby rattles. But Israel stubbornly
adheres to a more humane creed.
This is not a new policy that Israel adopted in response to the July
30 Qana bombing. Israeli soldiers employed the same humane methods in
one of the first major engagements of this war.
On June 26, Israeli infantrymen assaulted the outskirts of Bint
Jbail, a major Hezbollah hub near the border. Israel could have
flattened the town easily prior to its soldiers' advance - it lies
well within range of its army's artillery, not to mention the Israeli
air force. But according to a high-ranking Israeli officer, the
carpet-bombing option was ruled out because several hundred Bint
Jbail civilian residents had ignored Israel's warning to flee. As in
Tyre, Hezbollah was using them as human shields.
The result? Battalion 51 of Israel's Golani Brigade was ambushed by
dozens of Hezbollah gunmen wielding anti-tank missiles. In the
hellish close combat that followed, eight Israeli soldiers died. Like
the 23 Israeli soldiers who lost their lives in the warrens of the
Jenin refugee camp in 2002, the men of Battalion 51 died so that Arab
civilians could live. Not one of Israel's enemies would have taken
the same risks under similar circumstances.
Nor is Israel simply following the letter of international law. A
Hezbollah rocket crew can kills dozens, or even hundreds, of Israelis
with a single volley. Demolishing that apartment building in Tyre
arguably would have been a proportionate, and entirely legal, Israeli
response to the threat posed by its occupants.
Moreover, Israel had warned the residents of Tyre to evacuate many
times. Most of those who remain in the city are Hezbollah supporters.
Last week, Haidar Fayadh, a Tyre cafe owner, told The New York Times:
"Everyone has a weapon in his house. There are doctors, teachers and
farmers. Hezbollah is people. People are Hezbollah." Luckily for
Fayadh, Israel doesn't take him at his word, or he'd be dead and all
of Tyre would be a smoking ruin.
By this point in the war, some readers will have heard enough about
media bias. Still, I can't help but marvel at the other-worldly
impression people are getting. The Israeli air force has flown 9,000
sorties during this war. The handful of tragic instances in which
Israel has mistakenly attacked civilian targets are treated as war
crimes. Meanwhile, Hezbollah has launched more than 2,000 missiles at
Israel, every one of them deliberately targeting Israeli civilians.
(The group's Syrian-made 302mm rockets are packed with tens of
thousands of ball-bearings, the objective being to disfigure those
who aren't killed.) But the only time this is reported is when the
rockets actually hit someone - in which case the fact is cited not as
an indictment of Hezbollah's barbarism, but as testament to its
strength and the purported futility of Israeli strategy.
This appalling double-standard goes beyond media bias. It reflects a
deeper sense that pervades our entire society. After watching Arab
terrorists kill innocent Jews for two generations, we have become
inured to their methods. It is simply taken for granted that
anti-Israel "resistance" movements will sink to the lowest possible
level as soon as the shooting starts. Killing civilians. Hiding
rocket launchers in homes. Shooting from mosques. All of this is
unsurprising - expected even - so none of it makes the news. Let
Israel mistakenly kill civilians while fighting back, on the other
hand, and it's time to stop the presses.
It's unclear which side will be seen as the victor in the current
war. But even before the shooting began, Arab militants could claim a
perverse sort of triumph: liberation from the humane standards the
world normally applies to the armies that fight wars. It is a triumph
that Israel, and all civilized nations, can be proud of having
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006
Our army base before the war zone
To all my Friends and Family
I am continuing my update to you about the amazing (and potentially
terrifying) things that are happening at the Yeshivah in Kiryat
Shemonah, because from the feedback I have been receiving, it seems
that it is of major importance to many of you, and that our personal
story helps you to feel very much more involved in our crisis here in
the north of Israel. If anyone does not wish to receive further
updates by email, please let me know.
The Yeshivah has now become an unofficial army base, especially since
the enormous tragedy at Kfar Giladi. Battalions of paratroopers,
armoured corps and bomb disposal squads are being housed on a
temporary basis in the dorms of the regular Yeshivah students, 40-50
of whom have been volunteering day and night, visiting those left in
the bomb shelters, delivering food and other necessities (in
conjunction with the local council and emergency services). Another
40 or so alumni have come up to help, leaving their wives and
families in the center of the country. They have all been sleeping
on mattresses in the dining hall (if they have the time to do so) ,
so that the reservists can have at least a few decent hours of sleep
before being transferred to active duty in Lebanon.
I look at our people, and I can't find the words that could ever
adequately express my wonder at the greatness of Am Yisrael.
Israel Arabs ask to be drafted to serve IDF in response to Nasrallah
Aaron Lerner Date: 10 August, 2006
Ziad Muadi of the ITIM news service reports today on the MSN website
that a group of young Arabs, headed by Fuad Nasser, wrote a letter to
Minister of Defense Amir Peretz asking to be drafted to serve in the IDF in
response to Nasrallah's call for the Arabs of Haifa to leave the city.
"We are proud of Israel, and its just struggle," the letter reads, "and are
prepared to carry out any mission that the IDF gives us."
I'm IN ISRAEL MYSELF right now!!
None of my children live here anymore. Judy and husband are in NY taking care of my mother.
In Jerusalem, where I am, so far it is very quiet and you'd never know that there is a war going on elsewhere. The only thing that you see are many tourists from the North staying here or at least staying further south and vacationing/touring here.
I do see requests for money, accommodations, etc., posted around town, however.
Shabbat, August 5, 2006
With IDF F16's and F15's thundering past my windows, I will attempt
to share with you what it feels like to live in Northern Israel these
days. Most events you have been hearing about via the media, but
others you will not. What I experienced yesterday evening is one such
I drove home from the hospital along the Jezreel Valley (Armageddon)
route that had already received several long range missile hits (I
mentioned them in earlier updates). As I drove, I realized that it
could happen again at any moment.
It was Friday, just before 5:00 PM and I had just received a most
encouraging phone call from the United States. Somebody may be
interested in helping us to get our new security enhanced Surgical
A ray of hope. I had just sat down in my living room to watch a TV
news update when the local air raid sirens moaned their ominous
warnings. I quickly walked through my kitchen into my bomb shelter
(also my laundry room) and sat down in the folding chair I had sat in
too many times already. I then realized that I was barefoot as I had
forgotten my sandals in the living room.
Oh, well. Twenty seconds later it began.
The first deafening explosion was behind my home and to the left,
closer than ever before. The building shook and I felt the
A second later the second blast was to the right of the first, shaking
the steel reinforced concrete walls and me within them.
Then the third, even closer, erupted somewhere to the side of my
home. I understand the random trajectory of rocket barrages and knew
that the next one could bring down the walls of my home.
The fourth imploded somewhere directly opposite the first two, in an
area facing my neighborhood.
The noose was closing in around me, my neighbors and my life. The
noise was sickening and it shook my soul. Yes, I was shaking and my
heart felt suddenly too heavy in my chest.
I knew that I was in the safest place possible at the time, yet I
also knew how vulnerable and face to face with mortality I was. Then,
How long to remain in my shelter? Visions of a man and his 15 year
old daughter killed the day before as they stepped out of their
shelter after a katyusha attack filled my mind. Another random rocket
suddenly landed in their front yard and snuffed out the light of
their lives. How long to wait? When would it be safe to move ... move
around my own home? My town? My country?
More jets are streaking by overhead as I write these words, drowning
out the soft music I'm trying to listen to.
After about five minutes, I slowly exited my shelter. The first thing
I did was to slip into my sandals and run upstairs to the second floor
windows to look around my once quiet neighborhood. On one side, I saw
two plumes of smoke from the first two rockets and on another side I
saw an even bigger cloud of dust and smoke from the third. They all
were about 200 - 400 meters from my home.
The fourth, I could not see. My shell-shocked neighbors were slowly
emerging from their homes, everyone looking for evidence of the
barrage that was aimed at us all. The shock of having lived through
that assault sank in, while knowing that the next one could come at
Two joggers were down the street when the first two missiles hit.
One, the slower one, took shrapnel in his shoulder. The other one,
uninjured, assisted his friend until help arrived. The windows of a
few homes were blown out, but quite miraculously nobody else was
wounded ... physically. Once again, luck or a miracle?
It took me a few hours to calm down after that attack and my
neighbors said that I had gone white. I'm not surprised as I knew
that my old heart was not pumping as it should. So, how does it feel
to live in Northern Israel these days? Strange.
A previously unknown air of vulnerability heavily fills the
atmosphere. We know that our children, neighbors, colleagues and
relatives are at this moment fighting in Lebanon to silence the guns
aimed at our hearts. We also know that an enemy, yours as well as
ours, is fueled by inexplicable hate and an unfathomable desire to
see us all dead.
I do not feel afraid, yet incredibly sad. Deeply saddened that
humanity has given birth to such blind, suffocating evil and hatred.
G-d willing, I will return to our hospital, that Emek Medical Center
and do my small part to promote sanity.
FROM: Larry Rich,Afula: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Emek Medical Center
Afula update 2
Wednesday, August 02, 2006 11:33 AM
E-mail from our friends in Tzfat
The following is a moving account written by Binyamin Alexander, a
former Australian now living in Tzfat. He and his wife, Devorah, have
been staying with us at the Lurie's for the past two weeks. The
"Leah" he mentions in his e-mail is Lori Lurie. They are a very
special Chabad couple and I pray they will soon be able to return to
The worst pain for me was in the bus.
(This first paragraph describes the first day of the war, the night
that my son was at the bank machine getting money to take a bus to
Jerusalem, and a rocket exploded across the street from him -
It started Thursday lunchtime, Devorah had seen the fires burning on
the side of Mt. Meron just across the valley and had heard the
explosions as the rockets landed at about 5:30 am but it didn't seem
to be so real until the first five or six rockets hit in a moment on
the Metzuda and in the city about 200 metres away. The sound was
like a multitude of stock whips cracking at once within our ears. We
looked out the window and saw the smoke rise from several spots.
Devorah immediately phoned the girls Chabad seminaries which are very
close to the Metzuda, and found that B"H no girls had been injured.
During the afternoon and evening the bombing became more regular and
we jumped with every explosion. We didn't know whether to go to the
miklat (shelter) or stay in our north facing top-floor apartment.
About 10 pm the police or army broadcast that everyone should go to
the miklat and we obeyed. Two or three minutes after arriving at the
miklat, a massivebombing occurred in the centre of the Artist's
Quarter, seriously wounding four children from one family. One person
had already died this day riding his bicycle through the city.
The miklat was oppressive with heat and lack of space. When things
settled down after midnight, I rang a local rav and it was agreed
that we could go home. As our bedroom faces south and our bathroom
is in the middle of the apartment, the rabbi said to go home and get
some sleep but stay out of the kitchen and the dining room. We slept
for four hours.
Teenage children were vomiting and all the seats in the bus were
full. The floor was lined with people sitting and davening.
Friday the rockets landed constantly all over Tzfat in every
direction and the tension began to rise in our hearts and the feeling
that we had to do something to protect ourselves. I went to the
nearest Shul because of the danger and to my distress found it
locked. To the two or three others who gathered in front of the Shul
, I suggested the Tzemach Tzedek in the centre of town. Only one came
because the others feared the ten minute walk in the open. We made a
Minyan and as we left the Shul a missile landed a very short distance
away. I came home as quickly as I could and Devorah and I comforted
each other in whatever way we could.
Friends phoned from the other side of town and invited us to spend
Shabbat with them in somebody else's home. The people from that
apartment had left Thursday night for the sake of their children and
gone to Yerushalayim. This apartment faced Meron in the west and was
protected from the north by taller apartment buildings. It had an
internal Miklat which was being used by our friends and their two
little daughters as a bedroom. As Devorah continued to prepare
Challot and chicken, I told them we would come at 3pm.
As the bus meandered down the magnificent hillside towards Meron the
pain started to well up in my heart. Devorah's words from Motsei
Shabbat 'does this mean that we are becoming refugees!!?' My soul
began to weep as did my eyes.
At 2:00 pm a missile (bomb) exploded one house away and we huddled in
the bathroom as they mostly come in barrages. Seconds later as the
dust settled we ran to the dining room window, reciting out loud
Tehillim [Psalm] 23. We were already dressed for Shabbat so with bags
of food, siddurim, tehillim, Tallis, Tefillin we called a cab. The
heroic driver was there three minutes later and shortly we were with
Rabbi Sholom and his family pondering our situation and wondering
what will be for the Jewish people. The Rabbis wife wanted to run to
their home 100 meters away but I said no, as their place also faces
due north with no buildings between it and Lebanon.
As the tears rolled into my beard I looked at the pain on the face of
the man sitting next to me on the floor of the bus and I took his
hand and gave it a squeeze. 'Mashiach must come now' he wispered in
pain filled Ivrit. 'Baruch Hashem.. In Yirts Hashem Chaver ' was my
subdued reply. My head slumped forward to the seat in front of me and
I whispered again and again 'Peteach et yadechah umazbiah lechol chai
ratson'. [Open your hand and satisfy all who live with favor.]
As the sun was about to disappear behind the hills, an almighty and unbelievable explosion occurred. We felt for sure that the building had been hit and he appeared to be thrown from his chair and I jumped up after him as we felt the building shake and he
raced on his knees and elbows and I ran behind him to the miklat/bedroom.
The four of us prayed fervently and when things settled down Devorah
said, "maybe we should check upstairs to make sure that the
neighbours were all right". We were afraid that the building might
be on fire and that help would be needed. The Rabbi ruled again that
we are not permitted to put our lives directly in danger and that the
ambulances would come. He then whispered "let's check the other
rooms for damage, but instead led me to the stairwell where we ran
from floor to floor confirming that nobody had been hurt and that
there was no fire. On our return we found out that there had been a
massive flash of light through the protective window of the miklat.
The three year old was badly shaken and hid under covers and fell
instantly to sleep.
Surprisingly, another couple showed up, arms laden with Shabbos food
and we had a wonderful dinner together. We spoke of words of
Chassidut and sang and ate with nervous joy, as the rabbi's wife
hesitantly went back and forth to the miklat with the baby as we
heard missiles continuing exploding all around Tzfat.
On the bus, the cellphone rang and it was Leah, now living in
Yerushalayim. As she expressed her caring, I began to sob and was
unable to respond, Devorah took the phone and they told us that we
must come to them. I couldn't stop thinking that we were leaving the
home that we love so well, the holy people who are our friends and
what they must also be going through. Did they decide to leave too?
Are they safe? What pain are they going through? I felt pains in the
side of my chest and prayed that they were just from the tension as
my wife and I struggled in our own ways to understand what was going
on and what was happening. It was hard to keep
Throughout the night the missiles never stopped and when Devorah
awoke Shabbat morning, there I was in my Tallis unsure if I should
risk going to Shul which is about 200 metres away. Devorah supported
my decision to go, reminding me that when Jews are suffering we
gather together and appeal to Hashem. And, that Rabbi Marzel of Beit
Chabad of the Old City of Tzfat, would want me to be there. Devorah
said "would The Rebbe go to Shul with you?" I answered "of course he
would". So the Rabbi and I made our way to the entrance of our
building. We ran across the road, huddling in to the walls on our
left side we ran up the stairs and then even faster along the open
stairway which was more exposed from the north. Cautiously we passed
through the Old City, broken glass under our feet, along a street
that had been bombed the night before. Into the Mikveh and then to
join the other 13 men and 4 women who had come to daven. The
davening was amazing and the first time that I had felt any internal
peace since Thursday morning.
We returned home to a full Shabbat lunch delighted that we had made
the decision to go to Shul. During lunch a number of Bochurim showed
up and miraculously we had enough challot and more than enough food
to satisfy us all. The bombing just didn't stop, but we stopped to
make sure that Shabbat was Shabbat and we had a L'Chaim and made
Brochot for the people of Israel and for the people of Tzfat
specifically. At Shul after Mincha Rabbi Marzel read a Ma'amar and
inspired us all not to fear and again at Ma'ariv my friend the Rabbi
and I sang "Al Tira" with as much power and Kavannah as we could
muster with our friends. We all hugged, wished each other "Shavuah
Tov" [a good week] and messages of safety and Chizuk and we really
didn't want to leave the company of our fellow Jews not knowing when
we would meet again.
After Havdolah both families decided that we needed to move out of
Tzfat for the short term and Roni and Rav Shalom and their daughters
left on Sunday for a Moshav in the south.
After another constantly noisy night, we went home, setting a time
limit to be at the bus station for the 11:00 am bus to Petach Tikveh
to be with Devorah's relatives.
As we were packing, minimal clothing in two small bags, Katyushas
fell on either side of our building and we dashed into the bathroom,
which people had said was the safest place to be . With Devorah
forgetting her 'Bubbie Brag Album', we ran for the bus.
Binyamin and Devorah
From: dordot2001 <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 05 Aug 2006 20:53:52 -0000
I have a neighbor who lives next door to me in our 3-building
Whenever a bomb falls too close for comfort she calls me.
Well, a bomb dropped on Shabbat afternoon right in front of her
building. It's the building in the Ofer neighborhood closest to the
hospital. Another rocket in the same barrage fell behind my building.
It's now awhile after Motze'i Shabbat. Dan and I just got back from
going to see where it fell. It landed smack dab in the middle of the
road that leads off the main highway toward the end of the building
in the direction of the hospital. If it had been a weekday...
They removed the shell and plugged the huge hole it left, apparently
temporarily with what looks like plain dirt, until proper materials
are available. It happened, after all, on Shabbat and almost no one
The rocket melted the asphalt upon impact and splatterings of molten
asphalt are on the road and elsewhere.
It broke the edges of the concrete sidewalks on both sides of the
A car that was parked on the side of the road was ignited
sympathetically and exploded. It's totally gutted.
Windows shattered in my friends' building, I am told.
A utility pole not more than 15 feet away was, miraculously, left
untouched and intact.
We did not see ball bearings strewn around. Perhaps this particular
rocket was not loaded with them. Many rockets are packed with ball
Compared to what could have happened we got away very lucky - yet
It was awful, but miracles abound. Anyone experiences this and does
not believe in miracles is wholly unrealistic and in total denial.
Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Ofer Neighborhood, Tzfat
As some of you know, Faygele's oldest son Dovid was living in Tzfat with his wife and 4 children. They both had jobs and were doing well. As soon as the bombs started falling they fled to Faygele's apartment in B'nei Brak with the clothes on their backs. Eventually they were put up in an apartment donated by someone who bought 2 apartments and made them into one big one. When his kids married and moved out, he partitioned it off to a guest apartment which is where Dovid and his family are currenty staying. The partition isn't sound proof and they can hear what is going on next door. An organization called Ezer MeTzion has donated food. However, it is mass produced and not very healthy. Neither David nor his wife Chasya can work right now, yet Dovid still has to pay rent for his apartment in Tzfat. They still have important documents and other valuables there and they pray that it doesn't get looted. It is a very sad and depressing situation.