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.

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.

Jerusalem Open Houses and Busy Streets

You can tell the seasons are changing in these old stone Jerusalem, Israel, buildings when the inside temperatures are lower than the outside temperatures.

Late Monday night it rained briefly and it was truly a big deal around here.

Yemin Moshe garden

In Yemin Moshe the grass is green, the flowers are in bloom, and the olives are ready to harvest.

As temperatures cool, it is so much more pleasant to walk around Jerusalem.

Batim MaBefnim, Houses from Within, are free open houses, with over 100 options in all parts of the city.

Volunteer in tee shirt for open house

Tens of thousands participate, and volunteers receive these special tee shirts.

Sign for Open House on King George Street for museum in Heichel Shlomo

The Art Museum in Heichal Shlomo was open without charge.

UN met in this building to work on partition plan in 1947

Beit Kedima had the yellow sign in front and tours inside.

Jerusalem Israel graffiti

One walking tour offered was Mamilla graffiti art.

Jerusalem Israel graffiti

Above the Miffal was one colorful example of Jerusalem graffiti.

Entrance to Miffal open house Jerusalem Israel

Great place, but I had already been to Miffal last year, when it was called HaMiffal.

Villa Mamilla open house door on Jerusalem street

I was going to just walk around, until more than one person pointed me to this door.

Villa Mamilla interior in Jerusalem Israel

They were correct, inside Villa Mamilla was a special experience.

Jerusalem Israel Villa Mamilla tree in courtyard

A tree was in the courtyard and stone stairway enticed visitors to go up.

Open house Villa Mamilla bedroom Jerusalem Israel

The redesigned home has 3 bedrooms that host 7-9 guests.

Jerusalem Israel villa Mamilla bedroom

While we were talking here a man passed by and told us that we should see the bathroom

Bathroom in Villa Mamilla

The tiles in the shower are so well placed we had to look again to find the drain.

Upstairs, visitors rested in the roof garden.

Jerusalem Israel courtyard in house

No way to tell how many people passed through and viewed this house.

Lounge room of Villa Mamilla open for HouseWithin Jerusalem Israel annual festival

On my way out a woman was taking a photo of herself in the first floor salon.

Door open with workers redoing house in Jerusalem

The building next door was under construction, not open for visitors, at least not this year.

Jerusalem Israel scene in a house

But down the alleyway, another door was open so I strolled in to find this scene.

Like something from an old Israeli movie with people sitting around and talking on a Friday morning.

Jerusalem Israel old house has 5 cent Coke Cola vending machine

As I turned to leave, this old Coke vending machine was in the passageway.

I’m so glad I was drawn into these open doors. You never know what you will find on the Jerusalem streets, and off the streets as well.

Jerusalem Israel annual creative art festival Manofim

The open houses were last weekend, but I remember my first visit to Hansen House eight years ago, when it was old, abandoned, and run down.

Now Hansen House is home to many events including the celebration of 10 years of the Manofim Contemporary Art Festival. See the details HERE

Pianos at Jerusalem theatre

The Piano Festival at Jerusalem Theater is back for the sixth year.

International Animation Festival sign in Jerusalem Israsel

Plus another Animation Festival this week!

No way to do it all.

Campaign signs for Elkin and Lion on side of Jerusalem Israel bus

Meanwhile signs for the municipal elections are hard to miss on Jerusalem buses.

I will not try to predict who will be the new the mayor, but we are down to a final 4 candidates.

Nor will I try to keep try to keep up with all the conferences this week.

Besides the Jewish Federations of North American General Assembly in Tel Aviv,

the fourth Israel-China Innovation Conference is at the Jerusalem Orient hotel.

Did you know Friday October 26 is International Walking Day?

So – tired or not, it is time to get out and walk again to see what is happening!