Efrat, Israel: Standing at an empty bus stop on Hebron Road under a bright hot sun, an American traveler leaving Jerusalem for the West Bank community of Efrat suddenly feels his senses turned up a notch.
Waiting for the 167 bus heading south, the traveler watches four Israeli soldiers at a makeshift military checkpoint stop taxis, passenger cars and commercial trucks, delaying the Friday "have to get home for Shabbat" rush hour traffic.
Amid growing calls for a renewed major military offensive to complete the destruction of the terrorist infrastructure in the territories, Israelis braced for more attacks from Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen who have killed at least 31 Israelis since Operation Defensive Shield ended in early May.
Israeli officials insist their six-week assault in the West Bank that began March 29 was having success before it was aborted under pressure from the United States. But there appeared no consensus on whether to resume the assault.
Jerusalem: Sitting in a converted bomb shelter in the basement of the hotel at the Ramat Rachel Kibbutz here, about 40 American Jewish college students are sharing their anxiety.
Like a group therapy session, they talk about their frustration, fear and anger over the recent rising levels of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments on their campuses by pro-Palestinian activists, as violence continues unabated in the Middle East.
It has been almost a year since a suicide bomber stood in line outside the Dolphinarium disco in Tel Aviv and blew himself up along with 21 Israelis, almost all teenage girls. Leanora Bachar, a social worker who rushed to care for the families of victims that night, still gets emotional when she thinks about it.
"I actually heard the blast," Bachar said. "I live fairly close and my house shook, so I knew it was a bomb."
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, widely regarded as a successful military strategist, displayed his political acumen this week when he turned a stunning defeat of his emergency economic package by the Knesset into a victory not only for the package but also for his political career.
"Sharon became a real hero," said Mordechai Kedar, a professor at Bar-Ilan University. "And he is now very high in the polls."
Palestinian President Yasir Arafat came under increasing internal pressure this week to implement structural changes in the Palestinian Authority, but many Israeli leaders and analysts dismissed any chance that the kind of reforms demanded by the United States and Israel would be forthcoming.