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Seeing the Conflict Through Civilian Eyes

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Seeing the Conflict Through Civilian Eyes

Middle East

Seeing the Conflict Through Civilian Eyes

Seeing the Conflict Through Civilian Eyes

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Rivky Kaplan of Sefat, Israel, tells Michele Norris about rocket attacks that injured her husband and damaged her home, while in Khiam, Lebanon, Hassan Yusef offers Norris a view of the conflict from the Lebanese side of the border.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris.

Now we're going to talk to some of the people whose homes are right where the attacks are happening, on both sides of the border. Earlier today I spoke with Rivky Kaplan, she lives in Israel in the town of Sefat. It's about ten miles south of the border. Her home was damaged by a rocket, yesterday.

Ms. RIVKY KAPLAN (Sefat resident): We had warned that there might be katyushas, missiles in Sefat. I hadn't taken the warning seriously until I heard some tremendously loud crashes. I gathered my children together - I have five children, we were in the house. We rushed into the bomb shelter, and just then there was a tremendously loud crash. The windows caved in, the pictures fell off the wall, the plants fell off the shelves. My children were, as you can imagine, quite hysterical. I immediately called my husband, asked him what to do, and he said stay put. And then when the house started filling with smoke, I realized maybe that wasn't the best idea, so I quickly gathered my children and ran across the street to my mother-in-law.

NORRIS: Was anyone hurt?

Ms. KAPLAN: In my particular neighborhood, thank God, nobody was hurt. There was a lot of damage, but just to the buildings, to the house, to property. But the most frightening experience was that later that evening, just as I put my kids to sleep and reassured them everything would be okay and it was going to be quiet, about ten to eight in the evening, there was again tremendously loud booms. I immediately grabbed my children, I had put them to sleep in their beds, but I quickly grabbed them and put them into the bunker. And a couple minutes later, my husband called to tell me that his car had taken a hit and he was okay, but he was on the way to the hospital.

NORRIS: Now did you say...

Ms. KAPLAN: It was a very terrifying experience.

NORRIS: Did you say your husband was taken to the hospital?

Ms. KAPLAN: My husband was, because about 8:00 in the evening, he was driving home, he heard loud crashes. He knew that there were other missiles hitting, he didn't - he was trying to figure out where he should hide. He was in the car so he pulled to the side of the road. Before he had a chance to make a decision, the car shook tremendously, the windows all blew out, his head just started gushing blood. So he pulled to the side of the road, hailed the next car that passed by and they took him to the hospital. Thank God his wounds are just superficial, but it was a tremendous scare.

He spent a few hours in the hospital where they assessed him. I joined him in the hospital for some of that time. As you can well imagine, the emergency room was total chaos, it was like a zoo, there were injured coming in and out continuously, and thank God he came home last night at about midnight.

NORRIS: Ms. Kaplan, I'm curious in your thoughts on Israel's response to Hezbollah's capture of these Israeli soldiers. What do you think about what's going on right now?

Ms. KAPLAN: I think it's a story that you can't just look at this as a single incident. It's a continuous incident, and I think it's unfortunate, because we see that the problem areas right now, are particularly coming from the area where Israel showed weakness.

We showed weakness when we returned Gaza, we showed weakness six years ago, when we retreated from Lebanon, and that was feeding into the terrorists.

I think it's time for Israel to, once and for all, stand up for who they are and take care of their country and take care of their people - whatever that involves, that's what they have to be doing right now.

NORRIS: Is it a bit of a conundrum, though, in taking care of their people, are they also putting their people at risk? Your house was bombed.

Ms. KAPLAN: That's correct, that's unfortunately the situation we've gotten into. I still feel strongly, that Israel needs to do what needs to be done, right now, to establish itself as a strong, secure country.

NORRIS: Mrs. Kaplan, before we let you go you noted that your husband was in hospital, he's doing better now, how are your children doing?

Ms. KAPLAN: My children are quite scared. They're quite traumatized. They don't want to really leave me even to go to the bathroom; they want me to come with them. They keep asking every couple of minutes, mom are you sure there's no katyushas? How do you know there's no katyushas? How do we know it's going to be quiet?

I'm trying to be as calm on the surface as possible, so that they should get that feeling that things are okay, that mommy and poppy are in control, and I just pray, I pray to God that everything will be resolved.

NORRIS: Rivky Kaplan has taken her family to a summer camp, outside Haifa, to get away from the rockets.

On the Lebanese side of the border, in the town of Khiam, Hassan Yusef and his family also hope for a safe end to the conflict.

Mr. Yusef and his wife and their children, are holed up in a safe room in their home.

Mr. HASSAN YUSEF (Khiam resident): Other night there was a lot of air strike, you know, almost the whole night, and you can hear the airplanes. It was very close, you know, and there was some shelling and bombing through the night, but until now, we didn't heard about any casualties.

NORRIS: Israel apparently is dropping leaflets throughout the area, telling residents to stay away from Hezbollah locations, have you seen any of that?

Mr. YUSEF: No, no because you know, I don't you know, take this chance to go outside and look. At least twice, you know, when I have been outside this protected room, just to hand, to bring some bread and other items, you know, food items.

NORRIS: Tell me about your family.

Mr. YUSEF: I have, you know, a wife and four children. They are between 15 and seven years old. This generation, you know, they didn't experience the war as I did, where, you know, I did experience it, you know, in 1976 and '82, and so on. So that's why they are terrified. They don't know where they can hold to, you know, it's very sad to watch that.

You know, you can control, you know...

NORRIS: We lost the phone line at that point, and could not get back in touch with Mr. Yusef.

Beirut has also been attacked by Israeli missiles. Mohammed Shublaq has family that also lives in the suburbs. No one in his family has been injured. Even while his family's home is under fire, he continues his support of Hezbollah.

Mr. MUHAMMAD SHUBLAC (Beirut resident): I support because, like, when I see what's happening with the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and how the Israelis are surrounding them. And, like, I believe that the resistance here is trying to say to Israel that, you know, no more, you can't do anything now. And, like, people are really upset of all these operations, of all this aggression from the Israelis, and there showing that they're strong, unlike what the Palestinians are now.

NORRIS: Mr. Shublac, when you talk to your neighbors and your family members, is there support or condemnation for Hezbollah and their actions?

Mr. SHUBLAC: Well actually there is, like, talking, and some people they say that it's, like, ruining the economy. But others, and the - especially people who hasn't, like, forgotten the years of which Israel occupied, like, a huge part of South Lebanon - and people kind of, you know, have this connection with the resistance, with freeing the captives, with, you know, being strong against Israel, because they believe in their cause.

NORRIS: That's Mohammed Shublaq in Beirut. We also spoke with Hassan Yusef in Khiam, Lebanon, and Rivky Kaplan in Sefat, Israel.

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BLOCK: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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