Uncertain when the next Iraqi missile will be launched at Tel Aviv, Baltimore-area native Margery Greenfeld Morgan finds herself reluctant to take a shower and wash her hair.
If the air raid sirens sounded while she was in the shower, she would have just over a minute to rinse off, grab her gas mask and run to the sealed room in her house in the suburbs of the city.
"You develop these fears," Mrs. Morgan, 40, who grew up in Pikesville and moved to Israel when she was 22, said in a telephone interview.
Her parents, sitting in front of a television almost 6,000 miles away in Pikesville, have fears of their own.
"Every time we hear there's a missile attack, our pulse beats a little faster," said Alvin Greenfeld, 66. "You worry 24 hours a day."
In addition to their oldest daughter, the Greenfelds have other relatives in Israel. Judy Greenfeld's brother, a psychiatrist, lives with his wife and two children in Ashkelon near the Gaza Strip.
"We're fearful for everyone," said Mrs. Greenfeld, 63. "When they were telling which areas had been bombed, I knew every one."
The Greenfelds called their daughter yesterday after a Scud missile exploded in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Tel Aviv, killing three people and injuring at least 98 more.
"After each attack there's a spate of calls back and forth," said Mrs. Morgan, a former editor for the Jerusalem Post who is married to the European Economic Community's ambassador to Israel. "They just check to see that everything's OK."
She reassures them, and they reassure her. But the tension and uncertainty gnaw away at everyone.
"It's difficult on both sides of the ocean," Mr. Greenfeld said. "Outwardly, whenever we talk to her, we try not to give the appearance of being stressed out."
Mrs. Morgan and her parents have been through the stresses of war before. Mrs. Morgan was living on a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip during the Yom Kippur war in 1973.
But in this war, Israel is a target instead of a direct participant. People wait anxiously for the sound of the sirens as war planes roar across the sky, Mrs. Morgan said.
"We heard a tea kettle whistle, and we almost jumped out of our skins," she said.
Still, she wouldn't leave her adopted country -- even after the EEC ordered all dependents of diplomatic personnel out of Israel. Mrs. Morgan received permission to stay.
Her parents weren't surprised by her decision, and they didn't beg her to come home. "She's very much an Israeli," Mr. Greenfeld said. "She feels she belongs there."