Americans in Lebanon, Israel Confront Anxiety of War

While Israeli troops and Hezbollah continue to wage war along the Israel-Lebanon border, some Americans on the ground in both countries who are touring, visiting relatives, studying abroad and even living, and anxious about their personal well-being.

There are about 25,000 Americans in Lebanon, and an estimated 8,000 of them want to leave as soon as possible. U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman said cruise ships and helicopters would ferry about 1,000 people daily, starting Wednesday; the United States hopes to move about 3,000 Americans on Thursday.

At least 120 American visitors were flown out of Lebanon by helicopter Tuesday. Hundreds more, including many students, waited in frustration. But some Americans living in Israel say the latest violence is just one more example of that country's struggle to defend itself.

Sylva Boghossian, who is Armenian-American, was vacationing in Lebanon when the war broke out. She said Beirut is "just unbelievable," and that people there are very hospitable, kind and welcoming.

Video: Click here to listen to Boghossian's interview.

"We have had the best time up until the fighting started last week," she told FOX News. "We felt safe, we felt comfortable, the nightlife is amazing, the shopping, the ruins ... it's really was an incredible trip."

But she said she has not received very much information from the American government on plans to evacuate her from Lebanon. The U.S. Embassy said Tuesday it had begun contacting Americans "for a series of departures from Lebanon via air and sea" and told citizens "not to move" until contacted by the Embassy. Many expressed frustration at how the evacuations are being handled.

The embassy said helicopters "continued to fly American citizens with urgent medical problems and for humanitarian reasons out of Lebanon." It said all Americans who wish to be transported out of the company will be accommodated, "although not everyone will travel at the same time."

Sylvie Schultz, a 45-year-old Texan who was vacationing in Lebanon with friends and family, said although violence is plaguing some parts of the country, she has felt safe — for the most part. Three days ago, she said, a bomb dropped 1,000 yards away from where she was sitting.

Video: Click here to listen to Shultz's interview

"It was a very loud explosion, then a second explosion, and then anti-aircraft gunfire, and at that moment, complete chaos and panic set in and everybody was running. People were running for their cars and we had to go down to the bomb shelter. So at that moment, yes, you're shaken and it's scary," she said.

Schultz said she was getting most of her evacuation information from media, friends and family calling from the United States. She said she registered with the U.S. embassy in Beirut a few days ago but had not heard much since then. She said her ordeal has been made easier by the Lebanese people.

"We understand there's a lot of people they have to move, but it's very frustrating because there is no communication," she said. "The people of Lebanon, the hotel, the general public, everybody has just been fabulous ... we have not felt afraid because we know we can depend on them to tell us what to do, when to do it. So from that standpoint, no, we're not afraid."

Florida resident Jay Cheikhali's family is trapped in Lebanon. His wife, Susan, and four children were supposed to be picked up Tuesday morning to be evacuated, but no one showed up to bring them. He said he has tried to enlist the help of his senators, Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, in his efforst to communicate with the U.S. Embassy.

Video: Click here to watch Cheikhali's interview

"Everybody told me, just monitor the news, see what's going on," Cheikhali told FOX News. "I'm really, really disappointed. We don't know, we don't know what to do right now."

Los Angeles resident Nada Safady travels to Beirut every summer to visit her family and now is stuck in Lebanon with her three children. She said she'd like to evacuate through Syria, but she doesn't want to show officials there her children's American passports.

Video: Click here to watch Safady's interview

"I'm afraid that somebody will decide to kidnap them or hurt them or something like that. I don't trust the road going up there and [the] border there, I don't trust the people in Syria neither," Safady said. "I'm just waiting to see what the American embassy's going to do."

There is one saving grace, Safady said.

"Luckily where I am, it's very safe," she said. "We hear everything, Lebanon's very small, we hear the bombs, we hear the problems, we're safe, so far." interviewed two Americans living in Israel, who said they have no plans to leave but are hunkering down if necessary.

Yitz and Debbie Feigenbaum moved to Israel 13 years ago from Miami, Fla., and currently live in Kibbutz Merav, about a half an hour from Afula, where missiles hit this week. They have three children, ages 9, 11 and 13. Yitz Feigenbaum works with at-risk youth who have been removed from their abusive homes and have started a new life on the kibbutz, while his wife works as physical therapist in Afula.

"Though we have been assigned to the closest bomb shelter and the shelter has now been cleaned out and prepared for use, so far there has been no need," Yitz Feigenbaum told in an e-mail. "We have not considered leaving the country and we do not plan to do so because of the current situation."

The Feigenbaums moved to Israel because they wanted to raise their children in the Jewish state.

"We felt honored to live in a generation where the Jewish people can protect themselves and that never again should we live in a world were a Jewish life is reduced to a number on our arm," Yitz Fegenbaum explained. "Now that our right to exist is under attack by terror from the south and terror from the north, we are proud to be citizens of this state who say to our enemies, 'no more' and 'never again' (will Jewish blood be shed without a price)."

Leora Fischer, moved to Tel Aviv from Boston just one year ago. The 25-year-old Connecticut native explained that residing in Tel Aviv is like "living in a bubble," in that people there are somewhat removed from much of the violence — whether it be last summer's partial disengagement from the West Bank and Gaza, or the latest Hezbollah attacks.

"For the past week Israel has been bombarded with katyusha rockets from the north, Qassam rockets from the south and suicide bombers trying to carry out their missions in between. The news runs all night long and everyone, in Israel and abroad, has something to say. Although, walking down the streets of Tel Aviv, you might not know it. There are still lines outside of the bars, people laying on the beach and others escaping the heat in the air-conditioned malls," Fischer told in an e-mail.

Although many things in Tel Aviv appear normal, Fischer said everyone there knows someone who has been more directly affected by the current violence and they try to cope the best they can with their usual routine.

"I moved to Israel one year ago and I am not going anywhere, nor are any of my friends," Fischer said. "When we came to Israel, we knew that life was not going to be easy. Unfortunately rockets and terrorist attacks are part of our reality, but that is not going to send me packing. Israel has fought for the past 58 years to exist. Today is no different."

U.S. Humanitarian Effort Focuses on Victims of Conflict.

Some Americans Still Brave Trip to Israel.

U.S. Congress is considering resolutions supporting Israel.

U.N. Security Council awaits return of U.N. mission to the region.

• A brief history of the Lebanese-Israeli conflict.

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