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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Israel wary of new Lebanon hostilities
By Martin Patience
BBC News, northern Israel

Kiryat Shmona
Kiryat Shmona in wartime: More than 1,000 rockets hit the town

A year ago at the Israeli-Lebanese border, the clear blue sky was streaked with vapour trails of Hezbollah rockets racing southwards into Israel.

The hills echoed with the boom of Israeli heavy artillery being fired back into Lebanon.

A year on, the atmosphere on the border is very different - there is quiet.

In the Israeli town of Metula, a few metres from the border, locals sedately go about their business, trawling the aisles of the local supermarket for provisions.

Outside, a man lugs cases of Coca-Cola to his battered truck - cold drinks for a group of thirsty farm workers.

Yaniv Yehuda
You never know when they will land again - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon
Yaniv Yehuda

But reminders of last summer's 34-day war between Israel and the Islamist movement Hezbollah are easy to spot.

A few hundred metres away from the supermarket, white UN armoured personnel carriers slowly patrol the Lebanese-side of the border, deployed as part of the ceasefire agreement ending the conflict.

On the anniversary of the war, many Israelis are wary that hostilities could resume.

"It's not nice to live in the shadow of the Katyusha rockets," says Yaniv Yehuda, a 29-year-old student.

"You never know when they will land again - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon."

For many Israelis, last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah represented the opening shots in a wider war against what they see as Islamic fundamentalism - represented by Islamist groups Hezbollah and Hamas, and Iran.

Israel Lebanon map
For more than a month last year, more than a million Israelis were forced to live in bomb shelters.

Almost 4,000 Hezbollah rockets - packed with hundreds of ball bearings - landed in the north of Israel, killing 43 Israeli civilians.

About 500,000 Israelis packed their bags and left the north of Israel.

'Long nightmare'

More than 1,000 rockets hit the town of Kiryat Shmona, home to about 22,000 Israelis.

More than half of the town's inhabitants fled during the war. Ami Zinaty, 52, a community leader, and one of his daughters stayed behind.

Mr Zinaty was in charge of evacuations from the town.

Ami Zinaty and family
Ami Zinaty (left) stayed in Kiryat Shmona throughout the war
"This is the third time I've had to do it," he says. "I didn't know what to feel, my only concern was to get people to safety."

"It doesn't matter how many wars you've been through," he says. "They are always one long nightmare."

But like Mr Zinaty, many Israelis believed that the war demonstrated the resilience of the Jewish people, despite the major failings of the Israeli government and military.

Following the war, there were bitter recriminations about the perceived bungling of Israeli political and military leaders. These continue.

In Haifa, Israel's third largest city, Ronan Yonitov, 37, a labourer, says that his 11-year-old daughter still jumps when she hears a bang.

"She thinks it's a Katyusha landing," he says. "Now she hates Arabs because of last summer."




SEE ALSO
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Rockets from Lebanon hit Israel
18 Jun 07 |  Middle East
Israelis call on Olmert to resign
03 May 07 |  Middle East
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31 Aug 06 |  Middle East



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