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Katyusha barrages shatter Shabbat peace in Tiberias
Hilary Leila Krieger
07/16/2006
The wide windows overlooking the Galilee were part of the appeal of the Maluls' Tiberias apartment - until Saturday, when they become a liability. The sheets of glass shattered when a Katyusha rocket landed "millimeters" away mid-Shabbat afternoon, by the estimate of Rina Malul. Her husband, who had been looking at the view, went into shock and still can't hear out of one ear. The children, aged two and four, were petrified. "It was really a hysterical moment for us," she said, adding that she plans to send her children to stay with loved ones in the center of the country. The rocket was just one of two barrages that hit Tiberias Saturday, the first time the hillside city 35 kilometers south of Lebanon has been fired on since the Yom Kippur War. At least four people were wounded and several more treated for shock. After the rockets struck, police took the streets to urge residents to stay inside. The city has cancelled summer camp for Sunday. Before that, according to Malul, everything "was very normal," with people outside and on the road. After the police warning and the second round of rockets, she said, "I think only the birds are outside." Traffic was intense as thousands of tourists were told to head home, despite it being a beautiful weekend day and peak season along the Kinneret. "There were tons of people walking out, back to their rooms and their cars," said Meira Wiseman, who spent the day at the beach at Kibbutz Haon with her husband and two young boys. On their way home to Poriya, the traffic was "really backed up" and turned a 10 minute trip into 40 minutes. On the way home, she noticed that barely a dozen cars could be spotted at a strip mall that's usually packed on a Saturday. But she stressed that "there was no sense of panic." Aside from the empty stores and traffic, she said, "It seemed like any other day until you turned on the news." Rucha Abbo spent the whole day indoors by choice, since her family had gathered to celebrate the birth of her brother's grandson. But the life-long Tiberias resident still felt frightened when the Katyushas landed in her city. "Suddenly the booms were all around us," said Abbo, whose home wasn't damaged. "Again and again the sirens and the ambulances went by." The 71-year-old has experienced all of Israel's wars from the largest city along the Kinneret and said that Saturday's events reminded her of the period before the Six Day War, "when there were problems all the time." But the Katyushas were the scariest, she said. In the other cases, she explained, the residents could see the army all around protecting them from the threat. "Now [the attacks] come from a place we can't see," she said.
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