As the Middle East ricocheted last week from dreams of peace to the possibility of renewed--and perhaps even more widespread--violence, TIME asked a number of people living amid the turmoil to keep daily diaries. The reports--gathered by TIME's Jerusalem bureau chief Matt Rees and Jerusalem reporters Jamil Hamad and Aharon Klein--tell the tale of people struggling to adjust in the face of a collapsing world. Some greet the new chaos with resignation, others with a fervent, steely passion to win what they feel their people deserve. All the entries are tinged with sadness. The week began with a hurried summit in Egypt, at which President Clinton squeezed an oral cease-fire plan from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. On Friday, wild fighting in many of the disputed areas left nine Palestinians dead and at least 80 wounded on both sides. The sadness, it seems, may be with us a while longer.
ATARA TRIESTMAN, 35, IS A DANCE THERAPIST WHO LIVES IN JERUSALEM WITH HUSBAND YONI, SON AMIOR, 3, AND DAUGHTER SHEFA, 18 MONTHS.
In some ways it seems that life continues as usual, and I'm trying to feel strength from the routine, but the truth is, life hasn't been normal at all. When the rioting started, I thought I'd better stock up on food and formula in case we need to go down to the bomb shelters. I went to buy diapers today, and they were almost completely sold out--I guess everyone thought the same thing. I bought diapers that were two sizes too big. Better to have them around, just in case.
Last night we visited friends in Elazar [a moderate settlement near Jerusalem in the West Bank]. I asked my husband to call first and make sure the roads were open and it was safe to drive there. The friend in Elazar said it was, but this morning we heard on the news that a woman driving that road got stoned and was in the hospital. It's not clear if she will live. This morning, I wanted to visit friends in [another settlement called] Efrat, but I was too scared to go. The roads aren't safe anymore. Especially the tunnel road that you take to Efrat. There are two tunnels. If the Palestinians cut you off between the tunnels, it's like a siege. There's nowhere to go. Bethlehem is right nearby, and you could get lynched.
In the evening I went to the bat mitzvah of the daughter of my childhood friend. My friend said she considered canceling the bat mitzvah because of all the rioting but decided that she would be giving them--the Arabs--a victory. I sat at a table with two friends. The first lives in Givon, past Ramot on the edge of Jerusalem, right near Ramallah. She said that after the lynching, she took her three children and moved in with her mother. She took everything that was valuable to her--photographs and jewelry--because she was afraid the house might get ransacked. It struck me that where she lives is not a stereotypical religious settlement. Givon is basically secular and affluent.
I'm not a person who panics easily. Many of the people I know are totally panicked, but I try to remain calm. Maybe it's denial.
Still, I've started to think what I would take with me if I needed to evacuate the house. My friend just called from her office in Jerusalem and can't get home to Efrat because the roads are closed. She might have to sleep over here with us. That means there was probably stoning on that road.