- The town of Hadera, which after Jerusalem has suffered
more bombings and drive-by shootings than anywhere in Israel, has become
a place of closed doors and shuttered windows following reports that a
suicide bomber has penetrated a security cordon.
- Israeli military intelligence warned Hadera last week
that a would-be killer was poised to strike - only days after four women
were shot dead in daylight in the main street.
- Most of the attacks have been the work of Palestinians
from the "triangle of terror" in the West Bank, bounded by Jenin,
Tulkarm and Kalkilya - all hotbeds of Islamic militancy. They are close
to Hadera, which lies in the narrow "waistline" of Israel, about
25 miles north of Tel Aviv.
- The town's residents, many of whom have been wounded
in attacks, are feeling the strain. In the busy central market, where the
poorest Russian and Ethiopian immigrants do their shopping, fear gripped
the crowd one day last week when a car backfired.
- An elderly woman dropped her shopping and clutched at
the arm of a passer-by; a mother snatched her baby from its pram and rushed
behind a building. Only when a police van appeared carrying armed officers
was there an almost tangible release of tension.
- Constant Threat: The People of Hadera are
Considered Soft Targets for Terrorists
- "The 80,000 Jews here live every day with the
that they are a soft target for the terrorists, whose bases are on our
doorstep," said the mayor, Israel Sadan. "There are too many
back roads and unmarked tracks for our security forces to close off, so
we have to rely on good intelligence-gathering to provide advance
- There was no such warning last Sunday, however, when
a two-man team from the Islamic Jihad organisation, riding in a stolen
vehicle bearing Israeli number plates, raked the centre of town with
Four women waiting at a bus stop outside the library on Hanessi Street
were gunned down. One of the undercover police squads that constantly roam
Hadera quickly arrived and shot both gunmen dead.
- "It could be said that we were lucky because they
didn't get a chance to use the extra ammunition they were carrying,"
said Mr Sadan. "For me, though, I think of these ordinary women who
left home one morning and never came back - simply because they were in
the wrong place at the wrong time."
- One of them, Ayala Levy, 39, worked at a kindergarten.
The joys of her life were her two daughters, aged four and five, which
she had conceived after a decade of trying.
- "She and her husband were so happy, looking forward
so much to moving into a new house," said her sister Anat. "Ayala
felt that we should respect the Arabs, but always be on our guard with
them. All she really wanted was a quiet life."
- The youngest of the victims was Smadar Levy, 23, whose
ambition was to study medicine and who loved dancing. She and her new
a policeman, were thinking about marriage. "They were like a pair
of turtle doves," said a relative. "She had so many plans for
- Another keen young dancer, Vered Yarimi, 16, was among
a dozen people wounded. Her mother carried her bloodstained shoes to the
hospital, where the schoolgirl kept asking her: "Will I ever walk
- As a former commander of the Border Guard unit, mayor
Sadan is familiar with the problems of security along the "seam"
separating Israel from territory under the control of Yasser Arafat's
- Back in 1995, he suggested to the then prime minister,
Yitzhak Rabin, that it might become necessary to construct a permanent
defence line - "high fences, electronic surveillance,
- along the entire 220-mile frontier. The government regarded the idea
as too expensive.
- Earlier this month, the Israeli army mounted new
into Palestinian territory, positioning tanks around Jenin, Tulkarm and
other trouble spots in an attempt to block terrorist access routes to
towns such as Hadera. Yet that did not prevent the slaughter on Hanessi
Street, nor a drive-by shooting a few hours earlier that killed a soldier
in a nearby kibbutz.
- "We know for sure that these attacks involved
of the Palestinian security police - the very same forces that are supposed
to be clamping down on terrorist activity," said Mr Sadan. "They
could do it if they wanted to, but instead Arafat prefers to conduct
like a gangster."
- After the latest warning of a suicide bomber on the
residents of Hadera were urged by police loudspeakers to get children off
the streets and to stay in their homes.
- "The terrorists want us to know that they will hit
Hadera at every opportunity," said a businessman hurrying to be with
his family. "But although the town has suffered a lot, here we have
something of the frontier spirit."
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