Israelis hit the pinnacle of tension in the hours before the U.S. attack on Iraq, when the order came for every person to open his gas mask kit, twist on the filter, adjust the straps to fit his head and then carry the mask at all times. Recalling the first Gulf War, when Iraqi missile attacks followed the U.S. invasion in swift succession, they anticipated sirens screaming in the middle of the night.
During the first Gulf War, the Tel-Aviv area was the target of most of the Iraqi missiles, and people left the city in droves for safer locations abroad or in the country's periphery.
Although there has been a small exodus this time, most people are staying put. But they are keeping their ears cocked and, in the meantime, allowing themselves small luxuries that they think will calm them down.