ZARIT, Israel—Karen Shabo and her husband moved from an industrial suburb of Tel Aviv to the deceptively tranquil rolling hills of northern Israel last month in hopes of raising their two children in a small, tight-knit community.
"I came in search of peace and quiet," said the 31-year-old mother, sitting in a one-room bomb shelter as Israeli artillery pounded southern Lebanon. "But instead I got missiles."
In the past week, Zarit and neighboring communities have become ghost towns as volley after volley of Hezbollah missile strikes have sailed into homes, apartments and workplaces, killing at least 12.
Roads, highways and beaches as far south as Haifa, 20 miles from the Lebanese border, are nearly empty, and those who've refused to leave scramble for shelter with each new unnerving air raid siren.
The expanding crisis began just over these hills last Wednesday, when Hezbollah militants ambushed an Israeli border patrol, killed three soldiers and captured two others and spirited them into Lebanon.
While thousands of Israelis and tourists fled, Shabo and her family hunkered down in the bomb shelter for four days as Hezbollah rockets whizzed overhead and Israeli artillery fired hundreds of rounds into southern Lebanon.
"In the south you have Hamas," she said, referring to the smaller rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. "In the north, Hezbollah. In between, you have bombings and terror attacks.
"Wherever you go you can't run from this. You can't hide."
Up the street from the bomb shelter, Eliahu Cohen's family spent the Jewish Sabbath playing soccer in their yard as a nearby Israeli artillery battery pounded Lebanon.
Cohen and his wife have lived in the hilltop farming community for nearly 40 years. They've raised eight children here and lived through years of border clashes that have numbed them to the latest conflict.
Cohen's 28-year-old daughter, Janet, stood on the front steps of the family home as her brothers and husband ignored the booms of the artillery rounds every half-minute during their afternoon soccer game.
"It will help only to deter, not to solve the problem," Janet Cohen said. "I think we should do everything to get back our soldiers. Even give them prisoners. Even if they do it again and again and again."
As dusk fell on Zarit, a group of Israeli soldiers gathered near a Humvee for an evening dinner of baloney and cheese on white bread. The soldiers were brought in to replace the unit that was attacked last week by Hezbollah.
"Morale?" said one young infantry soldier who refused to give his name. "There is no morale. We are living in uncertainty."
While the unit prepared for the possibility that Israeli ground forces might be sent into Lebanon for the first time since the military withdrew in 2000, they urged their government to exchange Lebanese prisoners for the two Israeli captives.
"We have to do everything to get the soldiers back," said the soldier. "Even if it's the number one on the most wanted list."
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Need to map