Israelis slow to return north

Kai Ryssdal Aug 14, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: On the other side of the border in northern Israel, it’s a similar story. Not as much destruction there. But plenty of economic dislocation. Patrick Anidjar reports for the Agence France Presse in Jerusalem.

PATRICK ANIDJAR: Well, it depends where. Mainly in the Haifa area — Haifa, which is the third city in Israel — almost everything was paralyzed. Of course, in the cities next to the border, the Lebanese border, everything was shut down for the entire 34 days of the war. It means you don’t have any shops, factories, industries working. Of course, you don’t have any tourism going on. And it’s a very touristic place. I mean, you have a beautiful seashore in the area. And the hotels were empty. Most of the population, also, almost half a million people, went south.

RYSSDAL: Do you know whether those displaced people are now heading back north to place like Haifa.

ANIDJAR: Very, very slowly. Very, very slowly. I think people are waiting to see if that cease-fire is something serious or not. And also, I think, they are afraid to see the damages caused by the rockets. So, slowly, slowly, I think people will go north.

RYSSDAL: Do you know what plans the Israeli government has for restitution and compensation for people whose homes and shops and businesses have destroyed?

ANIDJAR: Well, hopefully, they’ll have a plan. But they didn’t share it with us. And nobody’s talking about that right now. I think it’s too early. Obviously, they are going to release some money and nobody knows what kind of figure the government is talking about. They have to evaluate the damage and it’s really too early.

RYSSDAL: Patrick Anidjar is with Agence France Presse in Jerusalem. Mr. Anidjar, thank you for your time.

ANIDJAR: You’re very welcome.

RYSSDAL: Make of this what you will, but the benchmark TA-25 stock index in Tel Aviv was basically flat today. In Beirut, the main stock index was up 5 percent or so. On Wall Street there was some early enthusiasm but the rally kind of fizzled out.

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