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'Every Day I Was Crying': Israelis Evacuate Northern Border Amid Escalating Hezbollah Threat

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JERUSALEM – While Israel is battling Hamas every day in Gaza, they're also facing a major challenge from ongoing rocket attacks by Hezbollah on the northern border. Roughly 80,000 Israelis have had to evacuate, and many are wondering when they will be able to go home again.

Kibbutz Yiftah sits only two kilometers from the Lebanese border and its people have been living in hotels since early October. It appears they may not return home anytime soon. 

Yiftah resident Daniella Porat Penso, told us, "I think the less safe I feel is right here on the road, but I have faith."

Meital Frishman Yogev, also from Yiftah, said, "When I was alone with the kids, the room was fine and I wanted my kids to be close to me because they were all frightened and they had anxieties before they go to sleep, and they were asking about Dad. But now when he came back and we are in this little room, it's very crowded and it's very small. And we're trying to be thankful for - with the things we have. We have each other."

The close proximity of Yiftah to the Lebanese border, however, adds to the sense of fear about going home. With the escalating conflict, these residents are pressuring the Israeli Government to do whatever it must to allow them to reclaim their lives.

Daniella said, "We are much closer to the border than most of the kibbutzim in the Gaza Strip. And it's, it's scary, I must say. And we need to be sure that we're safe in order to come and live here again in our homes. So this is our request for our government, from our army. Please make us safe."

The day-to-day uncertainty takes a toll. Ongoing missile attacks from Hezbollah despite Israel's commitment to wipe out the threat, leaves many here feeling powerless.

Evacuee Meital Frishman Yogev said, "Like, every day I was crying. I'm trying to think, like, every time I feel like I don't have enough perspective to see the whole picture because I live the day by day, not even day by day, an hour by hour, because I don't know. Every morning I wake up and I'm not sure how things are going to go in the country with the war. And I feel like I have no control on life."

Hezbollah Commander Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech the day after Israel struck a top Hamas mastermind in Beirut. Nasrallah condemned the attacks saying, "Yesterday's crime will not go unpunished."  IDF Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari warned that Israeli troops are at a "high readiness for any scenario."

That kind of talk adds up to the likelihood of an extended displacement as the hope for a secure return home remains tied to the IDF's ability to remove Hezbollah from southern Lebanon. These folks realize that may be out of reach without an extended ground invasion.

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"This will take a very long time. That's what everybody keeps saying to us," Liat Engel, another woman from Yiftah, said. "The messages that we're receiving is that this will be, this will take months, months, months. And so we have to just wait and hope that the war with Hezbollah will have some kind of, will create some kind of safety net for us to be able to return home. Because without that, we will not be returning to our home in Yiftah."


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