'I feel safe here, maybe I'm fooling myself,' Haifa resident says

Danny Goldgeier, age eight, sleeps with his family in the small concrete shelter in the basement of their Haifa home that until Hizbullah began firing rockets into the northern port city had served as guest room and office. "They could send a Katyusha at night," said Danny as he stood barefoot in his kitchen. But it's not only the night-time threat that scares him. Even during the day he prefers to play in the shelter. His plastic toy animals and knights are spread out across the double bed there. "He is always playing a game of the good guys against the bad guys," said his mother, Carol, as she and her children sat around their kitchen table late Wednesday afternoon. Generally, she added, her son's games involved a small force of good guys that beat a large force of bad guys. "That is the way it works in the movies. Now he said there were more good guys and less bad guys because Hizbullah is only an organization and the Israeli Defense Force is bigger than they are," said Carol. As she spoke, the warning siren rang out and interrupted the conversation. Within seconds, the family relocated to the shelter in what has become a daily exercise. Hadas, 16, stationed herself by the small metal radio. Carol caught up on E-mail at the computer at her desk and Danny went back to playing with his toys. The family has rebuffed requests by friends that they relocate to Jerusalem until their departure on a pre-planned trip to the United States early next month. Carol's brother jokingly told her he would prepare fireworks for them when they arrive in the US so they will feel like they are at home. Carol and her husband Paul immigrated from the US over 20 years ago. They didn't imagine a war when they built their shelter four years ago. At the time it was simply a way to get around the building code, which allowed an extension of their home only for a bomb shelter. Now its presence has allowed them to stay put. Since it served as Carol's office space it always had a computer, fax and phone. There is also an adjacent bathroom. Now they've added a small radio that they switch on immediately after arriving so they can know where the rockets land. They've also stocked up on DVDs and water. "I feel safe here, maybe I'm fooling myself," said Carol. Hadas added that she didn't think it was right to leave. "I'm the most calm of all my friends," said Hadas, although she couldn't explain exactly why. Despite the rockets, Paul commutes daily to his job as an electrical engineer in Tel Aviv. The middle daughter, Tamar, 13, has been away at summer camp since the first rocket that hit the city last Thursday landed only 500 meters from their home. Carol said they watched it fall from their porch. It didn't surprise them, said Carol, who added that even Danny understood immediately what it was. "He said 'Mom, a missile fell.'" Since then the three of them have been at home together working on projects and hobbies. Hadas and Carol are sewing a skirt. Hadas has also been practicing playing her guitar. They have all been lifting weights. "We haven't left for four days," said Hadas as she looked up from the notebook she had been writing in. "That's not true," said her mother. "We went to the supermarket." Carol said that she feels safe as long as they stay indoors. "The big change is that [otherwise] you might have found us in public places, the beach, the pool. Now you might find us in our house or other people's houses," said Carol. Her job has not been an issue because she always worked out of her home. But she has not been able to swim and walk as she typically does. While they have compassion for the loss of civilian life in Lebanon the family supports the government's action, which they see as necessary. Carol said that she could even see a silver lining in the whole affair. "I want to thank [Hizbullah leader Sheikh] Hassan Nasralla. All this reminds most Jews abroad and most people in Israel what they are doing here," said Carol.