Jerusalem — Before the final press event of Condoleezza Rice’s latest four-day visit in the Middle East, stride piano blues piped into the room perked up a news conference hall half-full with journalists yawning at the early hour and the U.S.’s latest attempt at high profile Arab-Israeli diplomacy. Call it the shuttling secretary stomp.
Tel Aviv — Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market is normally a cacophony of blaring Mediterranean music and bellowing produce merchants hawking a rainbow of produce. But on Monday, a Palestinian suicide bomber turned the open-air thoroughfare known in Hebrew as “the shuk” into a nightmare of screams and wailing sirens.
Jerusalem — The summer has been busy for Yafit Kaduri. The 18-year-old waitress at the Sbarro pizza in the central part of this city described a restaurant packed with American, French and Mexican tourists.
As she passed out advertisement leaflets on a cobblestone street just around the corner, Kaduri shrugged off fears of a repeat of the August 2001 Sbarro bombing that killed 15.
“Whoever lives here knows it could happen anywhere,” she said. “Should we stop living because of this?”
Tel Aviv — Boaz Levy couldn’t recall the last time he had been to a peace rally.
As demonstrators filed past the street bench where he rested after a 120,000-strong demonstration Saturday night supporting a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Levy explained that the dejection from three and a half years of daily violence stifled any motivation to speak out.
Ramallah, West Bank — The crisis of Rafah’s open border morphed into a four-way diplomatic power struggle this week that reinforced Hamas’ ascendance in the rivalry against President Mahmoud Abbas’ weaker Palestinian Authority.
A Palestinian Authority official said Abbas wants the Egyptians to help him deploy some 200 to 300 of his presidential guard forces along the border in order to uphold the Palestinian commitments under a U.S.-brokered agreement with Israel that’s supposed to keep the passages open.
Sderot, Israel — The rocket alert was drowned out by the cacophony from the children’s Tu b’Shevat party. By the time the first kids dashed to the bomb shelter at the Parent and Child Community Center here, it was too late.
The Kassam rocket thundered overhead, accompanied by a subtle tremble.
"You heard that boom," asked Dalia Yosef, the director of the Sderot Resilience Center, which focuses on easing the psychological toll of the rockets. "It’s not that far away."
Zikkim Beach, Israel — Itzik Levy rambles up a grassy sand dune just three miles down the coast from Ashkelon and surveys what he hopes one day could be the site of his new home.
Some 19 years ago, Levy had moved to the settlement of Eli Sinai on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip amid dunes with a similar view of the Mediterranean’s blue horizon. Now he’s lobbying the Israeli government to set aside areas like Zikkim Beach or the dunes of Nitzanim for Eli Sinai residents who want to rebuild their communities inside the Green Line.