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Americans move to north Israel despite violence

About 230 American and Canadian citizens moved to Israel on Thursday despite regional unrest and missile threats from Hezbollah.
Nearly 230 immigrants from the U.S. and Canada react as they arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday.
Nearly 230 immigrants from the U.S. and Canada react as they arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday.Barkay Wolfson / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Americans Zvi and Toby Klein and their four children left Baltimore to move to a new home in the mountains of northern Israel, well within range of the rocket barrages launched from Lebanon.

The Kleins and many of the 230 Americans and Canadians who arrived in Israel on Thursday said they do not fear the deadly rockets — that violence is part of living in Israel.

The day before, two young Arab brothers were killed in a rocket attack on Nazareth, not far from the Kleins’ new hometown of Mitzpeh Netofa.

“We know we’re jumping into the fire,” Klein told Israel Radio after landing at the airport in Tel Aviv. “There are always problems here, and possibilities for war and terrorism. It’s unfortunate but it’s part of life here.”

The Kleins brought their four boys, aged four to 14. Zvi Klein, a doctor, said that until the situation in the north calms down, the family will live in Jerusalem, which Israeli officials believe is out of rocket range.

No cancellations
The fighting broke out July 12 when Hezbollah guerrillas attacked an Israeli military border patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two others. Israel responded with airstrikes and ground attacks on Lebanon that have killed more than 300 people.

Since the fighting started, Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets into northern Israel, sending a half million Israelis into bomb shelters. Israel has warned that Hezbollah has missiles that can reach the densely populated center of the country, but has not used them.

None of the North Americans who were slated to move to Israel on Thursday canceled due to the fighting, said Michael Jankelowitz, a spokesman for the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, which promotes Jewish immigration to Israel.

The group from North America arrived as immigration from the continent was on the rise, Jankelowitz said. About 3,500 Americans and Canadians are slated to move to Israel this year, the most since 1983, he said. Total immigration is expected to be 24,000 this year.

Not letting ‘terrorism win’
Aaron and Ilanit Zakowski moved to Jerusalem with their 1-year-old son, Aryeh, from Monsey, N.Y. Aaron, 28, said he grew up with few Jews in Yorba Linda, Calif., and had longed dreamed of coming to Israel. He wasn’t deterred by the violence.

“We wouldn’t allow short, passing events to affect lifelong decisions,” he said from his new apartment. “If we had decided not to come, we would have let terrorism win.”

However, he acknowledged that he might have delayed had his family been scheduled to move farther north.

Both sets of grandparents have promised to visit within a year, he said, no matter what the situation.