The Wednesday night was very nervous for Israelis who were expecting Iraqi missile strikes. Many people stayed up until morning watching television to know all details of the American operation in Iraq and, more importantly, not to miss possible instructions of the Homefront Command (civil defence) on individual protection measures.
On Wednesday, the Homefront Command ordered all Israelis to prepare gas masks. It is prescribed to bear gas masks permanently. They are becoming an inherent part of every Israeli's wardrobe, local observers joke gloomily.
Nevertheless, life is going on in the country, despite the war. On Thursday, spring school vacations ended in Israel. Education Minister Limor Livnat made a special statement in this connection, pointing out that school schedules will not be changed. However, many parents are discontent with this decision. They believe it would be better to make the vacations a couple of days longer.
However, Thursday in Israel began as every other day - grown-ups went to work, children went to school. There is no panic in the country. The situation is calm in the Palestinian Authority, too. No clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians were reported from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the night - for the first time over the 30 months of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, local observers point out.
Nevertheless, all Palestinian territories have been completely blocked. Israel anticipates stepping up terrorist activities of radical Palestinian organisations in connection with the U.S. operation in Iraq. Members of their leadership are reported to have asked activists "to punish Israel for the American aggression against an Islamic country." The logic of these calls is evident - Israel is America's principal ally in the Middle East and, moreover, "it must be clear to everyone" that the interests of Israel determine the American actions in the region.
Therefore, Israeli tanks have encircled the Palestinian towns and people in the West Bank "to avoid troubles." The Gaza Strip is also shut off. The night was calm there, too.
However, the Israelis are unlikely to believe that Palestinian attacks will be discontinued. On the contrary, their danger is only increasing, according to many appraisals.
Similarly, no one can guarantee security of the population against Iraqi Scud missiles. During the first Gulf war, 39 such missiles hit Israel, mostly the "Greater Tel-Aviv." Possibly, this is the reason why most foreign correspondents who came to Israel "on the war" spend last night in Tel Aviv expecting a missile strike on the city. Few journalists went to Jerusalem - Hussein is unlikely to attack a holy city of the Muslims. As for Tel Aviv, some Islamic radicals call it "a purely Jewish centre" and "a focus of Evil."