Hezbollah Rockets Kill Three More in Israel

The Israeli army says it has established a five-mile buffer zone in southern Lebanon, but resistance from Hezbollah is fierce. And a rocket attack in northern Israel kills a mother and two daughters.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

The Israeli army says it's established positions in 11 border villages in southern Lebanon to help secure a five mile buffer zone. In many of these areas Israeli soldiers have met fierce resistance. Rocket attacks today have been particularly damaging in northern Israel. NPR's Eric Westervelt is on the Israeli/Lebanese border. Eric, thanks for being with us.

ERIC WESTERVELT reporting:

Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: And what do you know about these rocket attacks today?

WESTERVELT: Police confirm that a mother and her two daughters were killed today when a rocket hit their home in the western Galilee near the Israeli-Arab village of Arabala-Ramshi(ph). Thirty-three Israeli civilians have now been killed by Hezbollah's Katyusha rocket fire. Rockets also landed in Nahariya, Malot(ph), and in the Kiritch-Mona(ph) area. That's where I'm reporting from. Kiritch-Mona has been hit by more than 500 rockets in the last three weeks, Scott. More than any other town in Israel. Today farm fields and national park lands around here are again on fire and blazing.

SIMON: I know you've been talking with some Israeli who've just come out of Lebanon. What have they been saying? What are their impressions?

WESTERVELT: Well, it was interesting. I was speaking with some soldiers from an elite unit within an infantry battalion. They had just returned from Lebanon. They had switched out with another unit after fighting for almost a week. And when I was talking with them - they asked me not to give the exactly location - when I was talking with them the sirens again started wailing and they were advised to take cover, because more Hezbollah rocket fire was on its way. So I ended up interviewing them in a bomb shelter.

And these soldiers were expressing some frustration not only in the nature of the guerilla fight, and an enemy that they say has repeatedly hidden themselves in civilian areas - they found boxes of ammunition, they said, stacked nearly to the ceiling in several villages, but they were also frustrated, of course, that their towns and villages were still under daily Hezbollah rocket fire. Many of them were from the north of Israel and certainly frustrated that their families and friends have had to flee southward, that their lands are on fire, and that people have to live in fear in bomb shelters, despite their continued effort on the ground militarily inside south Lebanon.

SIMON: Eric, help us understand what daily life has become in some of these areas that you've been roving around in your reporting. You know, for example, when you mentioned - is it Kiritch-Mona where 500 rockets have fallen? That's very difficult for I think anybody sitting at home in the United States to imagine.

WESTERVELT: Well, some people, including farmers, say they just have to keep doing what they're doing. They have crops to tend to, they have livestock that need tending to. You don't see that many people out on the streets, mostly soldiers and police and people who say they just have no choice but to continue their jobs.

But throughout the northern Galilee, Scott, you sometimes do get these jarring sights, where in one field - you know, a field is on fire from a rocket attack, and then in the next one you see a farmer tending to his crops. It's sort of a - now a common sight, but it's still certainly a jarring one.

SIMON: NPR's Eric Westervelt speaking with us from along the Israeli/Lebanon border. Thanks very much.

WESTERVELT: You're welcome, Scott.

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