One Year Later, Vestiges of War Fading in Israel Hezbollah guerrillas fired some 4,000 rockets into northern Israel during the war. But now, much of the damage has been repaired, and tourists are back in droves. For some, though, the scars have yet to heal.
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One Year Later, Vestiges of War Fading in Israel

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One Year Later, Vestiges of War Fading in Israel

One Year Later, Vestiges of War Fading in Israel

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Michele Norris.

In northern Israel, there are very few physical reminders of last year's war with Hezbollah. Tourists have returned, hotels are fully booked. But many residents say life has not yet returned to normal and there are fears of a new conflict. Yesterday, we heard from Lebanon, a year after the war.

Today, NPR's Linda Gradstein is in Israel.

(Soundbite of people singing)

LINDA GRADSTEIN: About a hundred Israelis sit around a camp fire in a forest clearing less than two miles from the border with Lebanon. From here, you can clearly see the lights of several Lebanese villages.

Andy Friedman, who lives in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, has come here with his wife and three sons for a weeklong vacation.

Mr. ANDY FRIEDMAN (Tourist): Because it's beautiful, because it's green, because it's cool, because there are places to swim. It's a great time to be with the family.

GRADSTEIN: Friedman says his choice of a vacation destination was at least partly political, like almost everything in Israel.

Mr. FRIEDMAN: For us, there was a double push, if you will. One is to show Hezbollah, to show people that would have us not be here, that we are here and that we're not going anywhere. And number two is to give some support to the residents that are feeling very strongly that the country has not totally recovered from the war.

GRADSTEIN: One of the most popular pursuits here is kayaking down the Hatzbani River, which flows across the Lebanese border. Whole families crowd into the boats, laughing and yelling as they crash into riverbanks and other kayaks.

It's all music to Eitan Rahimi's ears. Rahimi is the general manager of the 120-room hotel at Kibbutz Hagoshrim. When the war broke out last year, all of the guests left. He kept the hotel open and it became a media center for journalists covering the war. Now, he says, the hotel is fully booked with Israeli families for the rest of the summer and into the fall during the Jewish holidays.

He says the memories of the war have quickly faded.

Mr. EITAN RAHIMI (General Manager, Kibbutz Hagoshrim): The memory of the people is short. We get used to back to the normal life quick as we can. You cannot all the time remember what happened, and we have to look forward.

GRADSTEIN: But not everyone here can do that. The nearby town of Kiryat Shmona was pounded with more than a thousand rockets during the war. Many of the residents like 52-year-old Morris Manan left, taking refuge with relatives in the center of the country. On the last day of the war, says Manan, a Katyusha scored a direct hit on his house.

Mr. MORRIS MANAN: (Through translator) Both the house and the air-conditioning business I had in the front yard were heavily damaged. My car was also burned. I've rebuilt the house but I haven't restarted the business. I just don't have the energy.

GRADSTEIN: Manan says the government compensation didn't cover his rebuilding costs, and he has to dig in to his savings. A part of the wall inside the front door remains unrepaired. He says he is not sure why he's left it that way.

The war began when Hezbollah guerillas captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid, prompting massive Israeli air and ground attacks. There's been no sign of life from either of those soldiers. Israeli media have reported that at least one of them is believed to have died from his injuries soon after his capture.

Getting the soldiers back was one stated aim of the war. The other was to destroy Hezbollah. But a year later, a senior Israeli military official says Hezbollah has rebuilt its medium- and long-range rocket capability. The official says that while the Lebanese army and U.N. peacekeepers are now deployed in South Lebanon, Hezbollah has simply moved its operations a few miles northward.

Yossi Nahari sits in his deserted falafel shop in Kiryat Shmona. He's lived in this town for more than 40 years and he's certain another war is only a matter of time.

Mr. YOSSI NAHARI: (Through translator) From all the signs and everything we feel here, there could be a war any minute. The situation with the Syrians, Iran, with Hezbollah - if there isn't a war, that will be a miracle.

GRADSTEIN: Linda Gradstein, NPR News, Kiryat Shmona.

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