Another Round from Gaza

Another Round from Gaza

Jerusalem, Israel, has been under siege the last two weeks, with a battle between Moshe Lion and Ofer Berkovitch for the position of Mayor of Jerusalem.

As of now it appears Moshe Lion has won the election.

A very different battle has been going on in Israel’s south along the Gaza border.

Southern Israel students hold protest near Knesset after walk from Sderot

Hundreds of students from Sderot led the way on a journey to the Rose Garden, across from the Knesset, to protest growing up on the front line of a war zone, and declared: “Let Us Grow Up in Quiet.”

As I wrote last week for 17 years southern Israel has been under attack. 

Ashkelon building hit by rocket where man was killed

After Israel allowed the transfer of $15 million to Hamas from Qatar, a barrage of 500 rockets fell on southern Israel in one day.

This building in Ashkelon took a direct hit.

One man was killed and one woman seriously injured.

Micky Rosenfeld talking to media near building damaged by Hamas rocket

At the site, police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld held interview after interview with the media.

Ashkelon rocket damaged building next to synagogue

But did you see that the building across the way had shrapnel marks?

Damage from rocket in Ashkelon

The heavily damaged building is next door to a synagogue, which like many synagogues in southern Israel is located inside a bomb shelter.

During the barrage of rockets from Gaza, most Israelis huddled in bomb shelters.

Damage in apartment of many killed in Ashkelon by Hamas rocket

This view of the apartment where the man was killed shows part of the destruction.

Damaged building in Ashkelon where man was killed by rocket from Gaza

The kitchen reminded me of the home in Kiryat Malachi in 2012, where 3 people were killed by a Hamas rocket that hit their building during Operation Pillar of Defense. 

Damaged apartment of man killed by rocket hit in Ashkelon

While the apartment in Ashkelon was destroyed, the fish bowl that sat on a shelf and the flat screen TV next to it were unscratched.

Room of Apartment in building damaged by rocket in Ashkelon

Besides the apartment of the dead man, other families in the building were severely affected.

Damage of home ruined by Hamas rocket in Ashkelon

The property loss to the apartments on the side of building that was hit was extensive.

Ashkelon shopping strip near damaged building.

Though restaurants in Sderot without bomb shelters were forced to close, these stores next to the damaged building in Ashkelon were open for business as politicians arrived all day to make statements to the media eager for a story.

The building which took a direct hit with a fatality got a bit of coverage and media interest.

But Ashkelon, a city of 150,000, suffered more damage. After a sleepless night with repeated warnings of incoming rockets, many properties were damaged.

Safe room in Ashkelon home damaged because of Gaza rocket

This safe room saved a family from harm.

They were not directly hit, but a rocket that hit the roof of the building next door caused their windows to shatter.

Take a few minutes and hear a father explain his pain.

Playground in Sderot empty on day of from school because of rocket attack from Gaza

There was no school in the south, but there were no children playing on this Sderot playground.

With the constant rocket barrage, staying in or near a bomb shelter was the only wise thing to do.

MDA in Sderot ready during crisis

Across the street, Yonatan Yagodovsky of MDA first gave us instructions where to go for a red alert. Only afterwards did he describe the work and dedication of MDA over the years, and especially during the last few days.

Scene of fire from gas explosion at Sderot bakery

Sderot took direct hits from from rockets this time. Thanks to the Iron Dome not all rockets from Gaza cause damage.

However, a piece of shrapnel that fell caused a fire at this bakery.

Fire in gas tanks hit by rocket shot down by Iron dome

Deputy Mayor Elad Kalimi told how three gas tanks behind him exploded and destroyed the bakery. It took hours to control the fire.

Kissufim road empty during crisis in southern Israel 500 missiles in one day

Next stop was Kissufim, note how empty the roads were in middle of the day.

Sorry I missed getting a photo of the MDA ambulances parked next to a bomb shelter at a bus stop.

Ambulances were out on the roads ready to roll in an instant, but I saw no military vehicles.

Rocket from Gaza landed between these homes caused damage to trees and homes

Kissufim is a small community near the Gaza border fence.

Over night, a rocket had fallen between this row of homes.

Glass windows were shattered. Shrapnel marks were evident.

Tree branches scattered all around.

There were no serious physical injuries as all stayed in safe rooms.

Baby seat in back of car damaged by Hamas Rocket on Kissufim

At another site on Kissufim, this car window was damaged and the baby seat exposed. Here damage was from shrapnel of a rocket which landed nearby on a pile of mulch.

kissufim home near Gaza border

This is the home next to the damaged car.

500 rockets. Rockets fell on the beach. Rockets fell between houses.

I kept thinking that it was one mini-miracle after another.

Gaza piles garbage near fence with Kissufim

Our guide at Kissufim made sure to point out the mountain of garbage over the border fence, rising from the former flat fertile fields in Gaza.

Bomb shelter on parking lot at Yad Mordechai "this area is not safe"

“This area is not protected” reads the warning not to stand near the opening in this bomb shelter in parking lot of Yad Mordechai.

We missed a red alert warning which went off before we arrived at Kissufim.

As we were to leave from Yad Mordechai, a red alert went off. Instead of running into this dark shelter alone, I headed to the one inside the restaurant where everyone gathered, waited, and then dispersed.

Residents are tired of living on the front lines of an area where they are not protected.

View of Ashkelon near sunset from moving bus

We drove back to Jerusalem, past Kibbutz Saad, past Ashkelon, as the sun set.

Terror. Anger. Frustration. Miracles. Israel.

SIGD Celebrated in Jerusalem

SIGD Celebrated in Jerusalem

Sigd is one of the most photo worthy, special annual events held in Jerusalem, Israel.

Tens of thousands Ethiopian-Israelis and others gathered at the Tayelet, Armon Hanatziv promenade, for the annual Sigd Festival gathering today. Prayers went from early morning through to breaking a fast at 2:00 pm.

Sigd in Jerusalem Israel

Crowds lined the path and filled gardens of the Tayelet with the Old City in view.

Men around Ethiopian holy book at Sigd in tayelet

Besides the main ceremony, men were gathered around their holy books.

View on Old City on Sigd with figures dressed as in time to Beit Hamikdash

These cutout figures were dressed as in Temple times.

Ethiopian Israeli man and woman with view of Jerusalem in background

Generations of Ethiopian-Israelis come together on Sigd.

Sigd Ethiopian festival in Jerusalem Israel

For thousands of years in Ethiopia, they dreamed of returning to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Israel women in costume for Sigd

For Sigd, smiles and colorful costumes were abundant.

Ethiopian Sigd holiday and women praying.

White clothing was worn by women dressed in old traditional outfits prayering.

Sigd prayers in Jerusalem Israel

These women were probably all born in Ethiopia, each must have a story of how they and families arrived in Israel.

Crowds were huge. Security was especially tight.

Jerusalem Israel Ethiopian Israeli rabbi Rav Shaul

But at least I got to see Rav Shaul and others arrive and enter, as I impatiently waited entry.

Kessim on stage for Sigd at Haas Promenade

Once in the very restricted area, this was view of the main stage with the Kessim under colorful umbrellas.

Ethiopian religious leaders Kessim in Jerusalem for Sigd

The prayers were still being chanted around noon.

Kessim at Sigd Jerusalem Israel

One man near the stage raised his hands in prayer.

Kessim shaking hands with President Rivlin at Sigd

President Rivlin reached up to shake hands with the Kessim as he proceeded to the stage to speak.

Ethiopian Israeli women walking to find bus home from Sigd

So many buses, from all over Israel were lined up, it was a long walk for these women to find their bus home. One was complaining in Hebrew about the distance, but I thought how much longer and difficult was the journey from Ethiopia to Israel.

Sigd was celebrated 50 days after Yom Kippur by Ethiopian Jews going to the mountains yearning to return to Zion. On the top of the mountain, the faithful would pray and fast. At the conclusion of the prayers, the Kessim would break bread known as Dabu which symbolized the bread served in the Temple. Today in Jerusalem, Israel, Sigd was remembered looking toward the Old City and site of the Temple.

Here is a short video near the end of the prayer service.

More Sigd photos on Facebook HERE 

Tuesday or Sunday, Election and Harvest Week in Jerusalem, Israel

Tuesday or Sunday, Election and Harvest Week in Jerusalem, Israel

Sunday.

One thing people mention they miss most living in Israeli is Sunday.

In Israel it is a regular week day, with school and work beginning bright and early Sunday morning.

No more Monday morning blues in Israel, by Monday evening the week feels half over.

View of Kotel and Har Habayit from Rova Jerusalem Israel

In Jerusalem on a Sunday we can enjoy special scenes like this one in Old City, but it’s not a day off.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018, was a national holiday, Election Day.

Elections for local governance and municipalities in Israel are held every 5 years.

Many olim joked that having this Tuesday off from work made it feel like Sunday.

Sadly in Jerusalem even though it was not a work day, the turnout was low.

Apathy with only a 30% voter turnout?

Ofer Berkovitch for Jerusalem Mayor

A runoff election is to be held in two weeks between Ofer Berkovitch and Moshe Lion.

Meanwhile, the future leadership of Jerusalem, Israel, is an unknown.

Line of tourists going into Jewish Quarter Old City Jerusalem Israel

Nevertheless, tourists keep coming by the tens of thousands. One part of a group in this photo was heading into the Old City near the Jewish Quarter.

Har Hazetim and view from Old City Jerusalem Israel

Seeing the grave stones on Har Hazetim, the Mount of Olives, with the Arab buildings up next to, and even on top of ancient Jewish graves, is another visual tourist experience.

Soldiers and tourist near Zion Gate in Jerusalem Israel entrance to Old City

Entering the Old City through Zion Gate, with its bullet-marked stone walls, is often the route for tourists and new IDF soldiers to learn history first hand.

The symbol of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is a sword wrapped by an olive branch.

Olives and olive oil have connection to Eretz Yisrael going back thousands of years.

While elections are every five years, harvesting olives has been an annual event for centuries.

Jerusalem Israel President House Olive tree in back ground

There are 60 olive trees on the grounds of Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

Among other things I learned this week, olive trees can live 2,000 years.

So important is the harvesting of olives there is a special word for it in Hebrew, מסיק, masik.

Jerusalem Israel olive harvest

So this week after the first winter rain, President Rivlin invited olive growers to help him harvest the presidential olives.

Israel President at Biet Hanasi

President Rivlin and his wife Nechama came out to greet the invited guests, Arab, Jewish, religious, secular, of all ages, some seventh-generation farmers.

Those little orange rakes were good for official photographs.

But the serious harvesting was done by large electric tools.

Cat in garden of Israeli President in Jerusalem Israel

And as usual in the Presidential gardens, the Presidential Cat was on guard supervising.

The fall season is not just for harvesting olives.

post for annual Oud Festival in Jerusalem Israel

The annual Oud Festival is coming up soon.

Sugganiot ready for Hanukah

And suffganiot, those Hanukkah donuts, are appearing and disappearing from bakery shelves.

Jerusalem Israel message of support with Pittsburgh on walls of Old City

And with all this happening, a shadow over this past week was cast by the unthinkable events in Pittsburgh which we learned about after Shabbat here in Jerusalem. As young people gathered Sunday night to sing Hebrew sad songs in Zion Square, this message of support was shown on the walls of the Old City.

Up-down, another roller coaster week, but if you want to end on a positive note, meet one of Israel’s proud olive growers.

Not everyone in Israel wants to go into hi-tech, some still believe in value of agriculture.

The sun is shining, the weather cooling, and it’s a great time to get out and walk around to see what else is happening in Jerusalem, but watch out for those black overripe olives that have fallen on sidewalks.