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Israel Pounds Lebanon for Seventh Day, Hezbollah Rockets Hit Northern Israel


A barrage of Hezbollah rockets hit northern Israel, killing one man and injuring at least 14 others, while Israel continued its bombardment and air strikes of Lebanon, killing at least 30 people. VOA's Sonja Pace was in northern Israel, including the port city of Haifa and reports on events there.

It was 12:45 local time in Haifa when the air raid sirens went off. Seconds later the sound of a dull thud in the distance signaled a Katyusha rocket had hit.

The few people who were on the streets of this normally bustling city hurried back to their homes or into air raid shelters.

Israel radio reported four rockets had hit Haifa, this time with no casualties and little damage. But, it was not to be the last attack of the day.

In all, Hezbollah rockets struck towns across northern Israel, including Nahariya, Safed, Acre and Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee.

This was the seventh straight day of violence and it has taken its toll.

In Lebanon, thousands of foreigners prepared to leave the country as Israeli warplanes continued to pound suspected Hezbollah positions in and around Beirut.

U.N. peace envoys were in Israel to boost diplomatic efforts to end the violence.

And in Haifa, residents reacted to the latest rocket attacks with a mixture of fear, anger and resignation.

Standing across from an apartment building that was hit by a Katyusha rocket on Monday, Yaakov leaves no doubt who is to blame. He says he has only disdain for the Shiite Muslims to the north.

"I know them well from my time in the military in southern Lebanon," he said, adding bluntly "they are bad people and we should have killed more of them."

While Yaakov's reaction may be extreme, an Israeli opinion poll shows the public strongly supports Israel's latest military action.

On a small street in the old section of Haifa, four men sit at tables outside a café playing backgammon. They say there is little use sitting at home. If we are to die, it's God's will, they say.

Nearby, Schmuel Belen, 95, has come out to visit his friend, the local shopkeeper.

"I am [an] old man. … before 63 years, before Hitler," he said. "So, I see more. I speak to you. I am [an] old man. I may die today, tomorrow."

Schmuel Belen shrugs off the violence, saying he's seen so much worse under the Nazis, back in his home in Romania.

Belen is a Jew, his friend the shopkeeper is a Christian Arab. They've known each other for years and the shopkeeper checks on his friend to make sure he is ok.

Not all people here are as unfazed by the violence as Belen and his friend. Many have already left Haifa and other towns across the north for safer areas in the south. Others have expressed their hopes in graffiti near Haifa's port calling for a cease-fire, an end to the violence.

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