Rachel Haber

On Sunday night, all the street lights in the neighborhood suddenly went dark and the sound of tanks rolling down the streets as troops began to take up positions was heard

Rachel Haber and her family lived in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood, near the border that separated the two parts of the city in the pre-war period. She remembers the months before the war as a period of increasing tension – Arab radio broadcasts in Hebrew (which she listened to despite her mother’s ban) promised the destruction of Israel, the Tiran Straits were closed and in the neighborhood’s synagogue they said Psalms throughout the day in hopes of a miracle.

On Sunday night, all the street lights in the neighborhood suddenly went dark and the sound of tanks rolling down the streets as troops began to take up positions was heard. Nineteen year old Rachel became very anxious. The next morning was quiet, so Haber’s mother decided to send Rachel’s younger sister to the neighborhood school, but she told Rachel to stay home and not go to the distant seminary where she studies. Later that morning, Rachel’s uncle came by and persuaded them to come with him to his home in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, which was further away from the border and had a bomb shelter in the building. They picked up Rachel’s younger sister from school and got to her uncle’s house just before the siren sounded. The family spent the next few days in the bomb shelter, listening to the sounds of shelling and feeling the shelter itself trembling with the intensity of the attacks nearby. They worried about Rachel’s father and recited Psalms.

Finally, the rumble of battle began to subside, and radio broadcasts began to reveal the extent of the victory for the State of Israel. Haber never forgot the excitement she felt on hearing that the Western Wall had been liberated. On Friday, the authorities allowed residents to return to their homes, but Rachel’s mother refused because she was afraid to find out what had become of her house. Rachel and her uncle went to the family home and found that the windows had been broken, some of the stairs were damaged, and the large water tank on the roof of the house had been broken, flooding the one and a half room apartment. But Haber’s mother’s real concern was the fate of her husband who had been drafted and from whom nothing had been heard. Rachel went to the army offices to try to find out what had happened to him, but could get no information. The next day, familiar footsteps were heard in military boots – Haber’s father returned from the front for a short visit and he was safe and sound.