After attacks, child in Kiryat Shmona voices fears, hopes

Though my grandson in Kiryat Shmona is only 8 years old, he is a battle-hardened political realist.

From the moment Yuval heard that an Israeli helicopter had polished off a terrorist commander in Lebanon late last month, he told his mother, "We'll be sleeping in our air-raid shelter tonight."

Unfortunately, army commanders in the area weren't listening to Yuval and so the residents of Kiryat Shmona were only ordered into their shelters after the first barrage of Katyusha rockets hit the town.

That was less of a problem for Yuval and his family than it was for many of their neighbors; Yuval and his family have a shelter in the basement of their own house. But since it was completely dark inside the house when they rushed to the shelter — the initial shelling knocked out the town's electricity supply — getting down into it was no easy matter.

First, my daughter Dana descended with her two boys, who begged her not to leave them alone in the shelter. But she shook them off and rushed upstairs again to grab her sleeping little girl and bring her to the relative safety of the basement. Making matters worse was the fact that Dana's husband, Moshe, was outside opening public shelters. So the kids were worried about their father as well.

When I spoke to Yuval the next day, he was completely open about his feelings. He told me: "I was very frightened. It was over a year since the last Katyushas and this time they must have landed nearby for the booms we heard, even down in the basement, were something terrible."

After the all-clear was sounded, Yuval didn't feel much better because he saw that one of the rockets had indeed landed only a couple of hundred meters away, virtually destroying his old kindergarten.

When his mother asked whether he would rather live elsewhere, however, Yuval said "no."

"After all," he explained, "the terrorists blow up buses, plant bombs and stab people all over the country. So there is no point in running from one place to another."

Not all the residents of Kiryat Shmona hold the same point of view. A young mother interviewed by Israeli TV after a rocket hit her house said she wants very badly to get out of the town.

"If I had the money to buy a place somewhere else, I'd be off in a flash," she declared. "My attitude is shared by all my friends."

My daughter and her family are in a different category. They would have no difficulty relocating to another part of Israel. But they came to the town out of idealism and have remained there because they love it.

At the same time, Yuval wasn't speaking only for himself when he told me: "I wish that when the generals are deciding whether or not to take a particular action in Lebanon, they would take our situation into consideration."