Times tense in sister city

Times tense in sister city

Katyusha rockets rained down on Nahariya as Judith Jochnowitz spoke with The Jewish Standard via phone on Tuesday. They could not be heard over the phone, as her office is a windowless concrete box beneath four solid concrete floors of Western Galilee Hospital-Nahariya, for which she is the international liaison. But she said that her room shook. It would later be learned, according to the Jerusalem Post, that one of the 1′ bombs that fell as she was on the phone had killed a man leaving his bomb shelter.

But that is how Nahariya is right now, according to the people who live there: Dangerous, and though the streets are eerily quiet, still being battered, as Hezbollah and the press have made the sister city of the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey one of their main targets.

"It seems like every time I come into my office, there are either foreign press here or more Katyushas," said Jochnowitz.

When the bombings started July 13, her hospital discharged as many patients as it could. The rest were moved to the facility’s underground bunker, which has room for between 450 and 600 patients.

Since the bombings started, the hospital had taken in roughly 400 patients affected by bombings, many of them suffering from shock. Among them were ” soldiers. One, said Jachnowitz, died on the way to the hospital. The rest were being treated.

A bombed-out building in Nahariya.

The whole city of around 56,000 people was in a state of emergency as this paper went to press, said Galia Mor, the assistant to Nahariya’s mayor Jackie Sabag. Sixty-six bombs had hit the town by Monday, damaging between 80 and 100 houses and killing the first Israeli civilian who died during fighting between Israeli forces and the Lebanon-based terror organization.

And while the Israeli government shut down businesses in the north of Israel, most of Nahariya’s municipal workers and scores of skilled volunteers such as electricians were still working to keep relative calm in the area and to make sure that the citizens who remained there had what they needed to survive as they spent most of their time in bomb shelters, coming out only periodically to shop, whenever stores opened for a few hours at a time.

"The situation is very frightening to people. We feel very unsafe," said Mor. "But people need a lot of things. Elderly people need our welfare help. And after sitting in shelters for days, people are asking for food for babies, diapers, and water."

The mayor was trying to get together a fund to help his city, and the Jewish Agency for Israel had helped take 700 children and some of their families out of the town to a summer camp in another part of Israel, said Mor.

UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey is encouraging people to "write e-mails in support" of Nahariyans, and it has opened a mailbox on its Website where people can give donations to Israel, said Miriam Allenson, the federation’s director of media relations.

"At this point it is too early to know exactly what we can do," said Allenson of the UJA-NNJ’s sister city. "We have our solidarity rally Sunday (see page 6) that will include a slideshow of what is going on to give them an idea of what has happened in Nahariya."

This is not the first time the city has been bombed by Hezbollah, said Mor, but the atmosphere is different from when the city, which is six miles away from the Lebanese border, was attacked in ‘000, she said.

"Last time, people were sitting in caf?s and talking. It was like a holiday because no one had to work," she said. "This time, everything is closed."

And for Nahariyans like Ziva Paltziano, the situation is nerve-wracking. She has spent her time mostly in her apartment, where she has a concrete closet that she has been using in lieu of a bomb shelter. She goes there when she is scared, as she did when a bomb on Tuesday hit about 500 meters from her home.

"I was in my living room, talking to a friend in Los Angeles when it hit," she recalled. "It was so loud that my friend heard it. It was heard as far away as Los Angeles. This is scary."

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