Middle East

Israeli Settlers Staying Put, Despite the Rockets

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Even as Hezbollah rockets continue to strike northern Israel, some civilians are staying put in their homes. Susan Yitzhak is one of those who has decided to remain in the settlement of Mitzpe Netufa, which has been hit by Hezbollah rockets. She talks with Alex Chadwick about life in the settlement.


And we're going to northern Israel now. Susan Yitzhak was born in the United States on Long Island. She lives now in the town of Mitzpe Netufa. It's a small community on a hill in northern Israel. She's there with her family. Susan Yitzhak, thank you for speaking with us on DAY TO DAY.

Ms. SUSAN YITZHAK (Resident, Israel): You're very welcome.

CHADWICK: Have rockets been landing in your town, in your community?

Ms. YITZHAK: Well, you have to understand, we really do live on the side of a hill and we live in a rural area. So a rocket landed a mile from here on one side, a mile from here on the other side. There've been many, many forest fires started by the rockets. But by chance, because the Hezbollah doesn't have very good aim with these things, they haven't landed on us, but only by chance. The siren goes off here, we run into the shelter that we have in a ground floor room in our house, and we feel very lucky that we have such a convenient place to take shelter.

CHADWICK: So you do have a shelter in your house, and how much of the day are you spending there?

Ms. YITZHAK: Well, like I said, we're lucky because we - it's right here and we have a siren so we don't spend too much time here, but we don't live in a border town, we don't live in Nahariyya. But if we want to leave our settlement or drive on the road then we're exposing ourselves to rocket attacks.

CHADWICK: But you could drive on those roads and get out of there, couldn't you?

Ms. YITZHAK: We could evacuate the whole - north of Israel could evacuate to the south, but there are no hotel rooms available, people can't stay with relatives in their apartments. People in Israel have very small homes. They can't stay with their relatives.

I want to let you know that Haifa has not been declared an emergency area. Everybody has to go to work. The scariest day of my life in Israel, I have to take my daughter to chemotherapy treatments in Rambam hospital and on Sunday a week and a half ago I had to drive to Rambam.

I drove there, I parked the car. There was a siren. We ran into the shelter. We heard boom boom very close. That was - at that moment eight people were killed in another part of the city. There was - 10 minutes later the government instructions say you can leave after 10 minutes. We left the shelter, we walked as fast was we could the two blocks to the hospital.

There was another siren. We sheltered under a doorway. We heard some more booms and we continued on our way in, you know, in hope of reaching the hospital without by chance getting hit with a rocket or a near rocket, because of course they're packed with deadly ball bearings.

CHADWICK: Susan, it sounds like a very uncomfortable way to be living. But if you say people are - really have to go to work and life goes on more or less normally...

Ms. YITZHAK: No, no, life is not going on normally. All the banks are closed. All the services are closed. Half of the families have left here, not because actually that they're frightened of getting hit by rockets, but because there's nothing to do and nowhere to go. No, I wouldn't say that life is going on normally.

I would say that everybody is determined that we have to end the Hezbollah and we're willing to take as long as it takes. But it's not possible to have normal life with terrorists on our border shooting rockets at every city, every day.

CHADWICK: You know, the international community has commented on what it calls proportionality. And though things sound bad for you there, I think they're much worse in the reports that we hear from cities like Tyre in southern Lebanon where communities are just...

Ms. YITZHAK: Mr. Chadwick, I want to tell you that in my opinion those people are as much victims as I am of the Hezbollah. I'm sure that the average Lebanese person does not agree with terrorists in their home or in their neighborhood or in their country who - these people - they're terrifying because their goal is to destroy me and my country and they're terrifying to the Lebanese people because they don't mind how many civilians in Lebanon are killed, you know? They started this war and we're defending ourselves. And their people are being destroyed also.

CHADWICK: Susan Yitzhak is living in the community of Mitzpe Netufa in northern Israel with her family and children. Susan, thank you for speaking with us on DAY TO DAY.

Ms. YITZHAK: Thank you for talking to me.

CHADWICK: And you can follow all of NPR's coverage of the crisis in the Middle East. Go to npr.org/Mideast.

(Soundbite of music)

CHADWICK: And stay with us on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.

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