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Inbal Elmaliach grabbed her two young children, still dressed in their pajamas and before they had a chance to brush their teeth, secured them in the car and drove south out of Nahariya on Thursday morning.
Her hasty decision to leave came just a few minutes after a Katyusha rocket landed on her street in the heart of Nahariya's Hayarok neighborhood, leaving one woman dead and 29 wounded.
"We got out at 7:45 a.m.," she said in a telephone interview from her in-laws' home in the Krayot area near Haifa. "We left without anything. No clothes, no shoes and no diapers. Many of my friends are still there and now they can't get out even though they are packed and ready to leave."
Elmaliach said that she and her husband now planned to spend the weekend with family near Jerusalem and that they had no immediate plans to return home.
"We are a very close community, everyone knows each other," continued Elmaliach, describing her neighborhood, which was built a few years ago especially for families with young children. "We know the woman who was killed and are really sorry for her family." She added that her own family had passed the night in their sealed room as directed by the Home Front Command.
As of lunchtime Thursday, the Home Front Command was advising families in Nahariya to stay in or near their homes.
A friend of Elmaliach's, Aviv Lazarovitch, was sitting in his sealed room when The Jerusalem Post spoke to him Thursday.
"We are seriously considering leaving here, too," he said. "My four-year-old daughter was hysterical this morning when she heard the rockets falling. She is calm now but we can't take much more."
Another Nahariya resident, Shirli Lagrissy, was already on her way to Petah Tikva with her three-year-old daughter.
"My sister was supposed to come and see us this weekend but now we will go and stay with her," said Lagrissy, who works in a women's clothing store in the city. "It is very stressful and we have no plans to return until things calm down."
Further to the east in Rosh Pina, resident Adam Stevens, a single father of two, said that the situation was relatively calm where he was.
"They took the locks off the bomb shelters," he told the Post. "But my daughter's summer camp is continuing as usual. I had to take the day off work because my son's special education school was closed down this morning after a Katyusha fell nearby."
A combat soldier in the reserves, Stevens said that he is concerned about being called up soon.
"I am worried about my kids and who will look after them," said the 41-year-old, who is formerly from New Zealand. "However, emotionally I want to get out there and fight for my country."
The Social Affairs Ministry set up a hot line Thursday to deal with the psychological stress faced by residents in the North from Metulla to Nahariya. Social workers, psychologists, education experts and volunteers will man the hot line, which can be reached on the main number 118.
Residents of Nahariya can also call (04) 987-9801 or (04) 987-9811 for assistance. The ministry said it was also sending specialists in the field of trauma and stress to bomb shelters to help calm children and parents.
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