Nahariya: 'It's not like it was before'

Men try their best to catch Mediterranean fish. A middle-aged man practices martial arts by the boardwalk. Dozens of children tell jokes while enjoying a day of swimming. With a combination of faith, anger, defiance and uncertainty, Nahariya residents resumed their daily lives this week, after a month in which the city's public areas were almost entirely deserted. "Israelis are people with a lot of courage," says Jisele Chawat, the sun beating down on her. "We are not scared. We want to live. We need to live." At the Western Galilee Hospital, a site that suddenly became the "front line" of the recent war when a Katyusha rocket scored a direct hit on an empty patient room, things are returning to normal everyday craziness. During the war, the hospital went underground, in a basement shelter that at one point housed 1,900 patients, including more than 1,000 wounded soldiers and civilians. The hospital was almost revolutionary in its success in creating a makeshift multiple-ward care-center over the course of the war. Now, everyone has been moved back upstairs. Some residents turned to faith to describe how they try to go on living without a constant state of fear. Hatchoniel Nissim, a gabbai at a local synagogue, noted a prayer from the Yom Kippur service that says we hope that no tool used against us will be successful. He said faith in God is the only way to survive in a country with so many enemies. Ortal, a student at the Technion in Haifa, traveled to the university and back home each day during the war. She said that whether or not a rocket hits you is mostly a matter of fate. "You can't escape it, because it follows you wherever you go," she said. "We try to be optimistic. We continue our daily lives, but we also have to realistic. We all know who is on the other side." After a month in which hundreds of rockets fell on this town, killing five and wounding dozens, residents seem eager to show that they are unaffected by Hizbullah's attacks, but also clearly think that there is much more to come. An ice cream store located on downtown Sderot Haga'aton reopened last Tuesday, the day after the UN-brokered cease-fire took effect. The owner said that business is about 80 percent of what it was before the war. A crowd of his friends sits at a table nearby. They argue about whether the rockets will start falling again within a year, or only half a year. Many store owners are happy to be able to earn at least a small amount now, after everything was closed for five weeks. "There are a lot more people now than last week," an owner of a beachside cafe said. "But it's not enough, not like it was before." He said that the beach still only has about a third of crowd it would have on a normal weekday morning. He attributed this to some people being afraid to come, but more to the fact that after spending a month in hotels, many don't have much money to spend. He added, though, that more than anything else, people are simply not in the mood to enjoy themselves again just yet. "Many are depressed," he said. "We lost the war. We lost our respect for ourselves." "Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow," Chawat said, "but life goes on today."