JERUSALEM – It's someone's aunt, or a friend of a friend. A daughter. A fiance. Many Israelis and Palestinians know someone who's been hurt or killed in a Palestinian suicide bombing or an Israeli military strike.
The thousands of wounded still have lumpy pink scars on their legs and arms from the bullets or bits of metal that pierced their skin. Their numbers are a reflection of the violence that has touched nearly every life.
A day after a suicide bomber blew up a bus in downtown Jerusalem (search), killing himself and 17 other people, many were waiting to hear the final list of the dead. They nervously scanned newspapers and listened to the radio, hoping not to hear a name they know.
"I haven't heard all the names yet. I'm afraid of what I'll hear tonight," said Web page designer Rahel Sharon, 38. "I've already lost a few friends to terrorism."
Her friend Sara Duker, 22, a student from Teaneck, N.J., was killed in a bus bombing in Jerusalem in February 1996 along with her fiancee. Another friend, from the Netherlands, was killed in a shooting attack in 1994.
"It's very sad, very frightening," she said, as she stood at the bus stop where city bus No. 14 was destroyed in Wednesday's attack. She thanks God out loud each time she arrives home safely.
Another woman at the bus stop nervously asks a man if a large, unattended bag is his, worried it could be a bomb. He nods his head yes.
Out of 10 people interviewed on the street, six said they had been injured themselves or knew someone who was hurt or killed in an attack. Still, more Israelis die in traffic accidents — in 2002, 525 people were killed in car crashes, compared to 367 people who have been killed in suicide bombings in 32 months of fighting.
In Israel, word of a bombing overloads cellular phone networks, as panicked friends and relatives check on each other. The sound of more than one ambulance racing down a street — or even a car backfiring — can also stir panic.
Some Israelis, a few bus drivers in particular, have survived multiple attacks.
For one of those injured in Wednesday's bombing, it was his third confrontation with horror. The first attack in 1995 left the man in a wheelchair, a second left him in shock and the bus blast blew him out of his wheelchair on the sidewalk, lightly wounding him, the Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported.
The panic is equally unnerving for Palestinians after Israeli military strikes, which target militants but often kill and injure civilians. Four Israeli missile attacks in the last three days have hit crowded areas of Gaza.
The chop-chop of helicopter blades or first sight of a vapor trail from an Israeli F-16 fighter jet (search), is enough to set off panic in Gaza's streets after four airborne attacks in two days.
"Everyone now is a target, not only the fighters," said Radwan Aneen, 22, a falafel vendor.
His friend and fellow shopkeeper, Hammed, suffered two broken legs when Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car carrying two militants in a crowded market area Wednesday.
That attack killed the two Hamas (search) operatives, but seven bystanders also died.
"You cannot know who's riding next to you or who is walking next to you, whether you are going to return safely home," Aneen said.
That attack touched other lives, too.
Raed Amar, 27, a civil engineer from Gaza City, would always smile at the local baker who made the rich black forest cake he'd buy for his child. Unknown to him, the baker, Soheil Abu Nahel, 29, was a top-level militant in Hamas.
He was one of the two militants killed in Wednesday's strike.
"I saw him four days ago," Amar recalled. "He had learned to make a new cupcake mixed with fruit. I never thought that he was a militant."
Back in Jerusalem, Yakov Cohen, 20, reads Psalms in the bus shelter next to where the bus exploded. By reciting them, he believes, he can help stop the violence.
His knees are scarred by shrapnel that pelted his body from a December 2001 attack. In that strike, two suicide bombers blew up together at an outdoor pedestrian mall, and minutes later a car exploded in a nearby side street.
Cohen turns to Psalm 124: "If God hadn't been there for us ... when men rose up against us, then they would we have swallowed us up alive by their violent anger."
The part that gives him hope reads, "Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth."