April 16, 2006
To test people’s knowledge of the Middle East, I often ask how far they think my home in north Tel Aviv, close to the Med, is from the West Bank. Guesses have often reached 500 km, when the real answer is a 4-hour walk – 15 km.
Today, we visited friends in the Negev, in the village of Dorot. It is located close to the northern perimeter of Gaza, close to Sderot, the favourite target of the Kassam rockets from Gaza – and also neighbouring Shiqnim Farm. (That’s how THEY spell it in English). That’s Arik Sharon’s farm, and it’s no mini-farm. Expansive orchards, fields of grain, dairy cows etc. etc.
So how far is Gaza – land of Hamas – from my home? To the northern border, it’s perhaps 80 km. But I live in the north of the city. So we’re talking about only 70 km from Tel Aviv to Gaza.
Danger? Our friends took us to a picnic area for post-lunch Turkish coffee. It is also a memorial for some of the battles and events that happened in the area. And it is also a place from which to look out over northern Gaza. Suddenly, whoosh! A Kassam rocket shot up from a point not more than 1 km. from us, towards Ashkelon. There was a clear tell-tale spiral of smoke, pinpointing the source and the route.
Within 3-4 minutes, by which time the launchers had surely bolted, the responding oomphs of Israeli artillery were seen and heard. They are aimed at the empty fields, trying to tell the folks over there that they are being downright silly. They do sometimes injure and kill with their rocket. We could kill every time, and yet do not.
Why didn’t I take my camera!!
The flowers, the golden and green fields. We think of the Negev as a desert – and certainly there are the classic desert-like areas. But so many parts are beautifully cultivated.
It happened that the day was a typical April day – even here in Israel. Different layers and types of clouds, suddenly a downpour, suddenly blinding sun, and, of course, wonderful rainbows.
It was a wonderful day out, despite the reminder of the life this country is forced to lead. And today (it is now Easter Monday lunch-time) we have come back from a quick trip to town. The roads are packed; in our area, many of them aiming for the auto show.
Sirens start wailing, and various types of vehicles belonging to all the emergency services start rushing towards town centre. Suicide bomber’s target this time was the ‘Head of the City’ (mayor) Shawarma stand at the old bus station. A popular gathering place. 6 dead so far, around 40 injured, many seriously.
A few more Jews/Israelis dead and injured…do they really get a plus out of this?
I don’t need the camera now…