Skip to main content /WORLD /WORLD


Terror shakes serenity in Israeli beach city

Residents of Netanya still frequent the beaches there, but terror attacks have scared away many tourists.
Residents of Netanya still frequent the beaches there, but terror attacks have scared away many tourists.  

NETANYA, Israel (CNN) -- Like most Israeli cities struck by Palestinian terror attacks, Netanya has two faces.

One reflects the indelible images of seven suicide bombings since the Palestinian intifada began 21 months ago, including the worst attack of all -- the March 27 Passover bombing at the Park Hotel that killed 29 people and wounded more than 140.

But Netanya is also a vibrant beach town, known as the Diamond City for its district of stores selling the precious stones. A generation of young people has grown up on the beaches, and they're not letting the threat of terrorism keep them away.

"The terrorists want that life will stop," said one young man. "We are doing the opposite."

Still, the terror attacks, especially the Passover bombing, have taken their toll.

While the locals continue going to the beaches, the usual crush of tourists is absent. Tourism was down 73 percent in April from the same time a year earlier, and hotels are serving half the number of Israelis they usually do, according to a hotel association. In the stores of the diamond center, sales are way down. Many shops have closed.

And there is fear, which can't be measured by numbers or percentages.

"Terrorism isn't when something happens and people are involved and killed in this most horrendous way that we have been suffering," said Anthony Felix, one of a group of civilians who have volunteered to help police patrol the city.

"The real terror is what goes on in people's lives the whole of the time because that's what terror is all about."

Roadblocks in the heart of the city are reminders that the threat is ever present. Netanya lies just a few miles from the West Bank, home to many of the suicide bombers.

The March 27 Passover attack caused extensive damage to the interior of Netanya's Park Hotel and killed 29 people.  

"The people in the cars here are showing you a great deal of patience and indeed, pleasure, at the visible level of security because it makes them feel safer," Felix said.

"I don't want to prepare myself for any more," said Marc Kahlberg, chief of Netanya's tourist police. "I've seen enough carnage in the last three months. You can never forget this carnage, and we are here to prevent them, prevent them from what they have been doing."

Amid the death and destruction of the terror attacks, the residents of Netanya are trying to go on with daily life.

Thirteen-year-old Natali recently marked her bat mitzvah. In the current climate, the ceremonial passage into adulthood for Jewish adolescents raises inevitable questions about what the future holds.

"We are living for the moment," said Natali's mother, Aliza. "This is the moment ... from now to now."




Back to the top