Jerusalem, the center of the world.
Jerusalem, Israel, the center of world attention.
Thanks to rockets from Gaza, more people heard of Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, this year – which was interrupted as multiple incoming rocket sirens blasted warning over the Holy City.
But I was in Tel Aviv near a quiet park this Yom Yerushalayim
where the flowers were blooming.
The Tel Aviv food delivery men rode bikes, not motorcycles.
The bus stop images and ads were not the same in Tel Aviv,
even the street libraries look different to those in Jerusalem.
The Tel Aviv street cafes filled the night before with diners enjoying the pleasant evening weather, under threat of rocket fire, were deserted on what should have been a busy night.
My pleasant loft rental had no bomb shelter, so this was the safest spot to take pillows and blankets for two nights of sirens and loud booms.
However, a favorite sight in Tel Aviv was the new shuk, as three window washers were at work cleaning the large panes of glass even as rockets were being aimed from Gaza.
Back in Jerusalem, after Hamas and PIJ fired over 4,000 rockets and internet sources stirred up masses, there were reports of riots on the Temple Mount. “The hudna (cease-fire) is only temporary and conditional,” was shouted over social media “and we are raising our head in this city and saying to everyone: you must always protect our holy places and our mosque.”
Finally, on Friday afternoon, I had a chance to go see what was really happening in the Old City of Jerusalem.
It was quiet. A few yeshiva students were arriving, no one else.
Security near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Muslim Quarter and Arab shuk, was not as I expected – at times no one appeared to be watching.
An Arab woman was shopping as usual in Mamilla Mall.
The Jewish Quarter was very quiet, way too quiet.
It was not a good day for this vendor with his table set on the steps down to the Kotel, Western Wall, where the elevator construction has begun.
The Friday afternoon at the Kotel crowds were missing.
The newly resurfaced plaza area empty except for two security officers.
Corona divisions have been removed, so there was plenty of room in the men’s section, on the sunny, but not too hot afternoon.
Have we ever seen so few women at the Kotel on a Friday afternoon?
The remains of the tree set on fire by Muslim firecrackers was still visible
But a sorrier sight was the empty roads below at the gates of the Old City.
The Armenian way so often bustling with a stream of cars, had no traffic.
One vendor was open, but there was no business from passing tourists.
Reports of rioters and trouble, and the Old City streets were empty.
The safety door of this Armenian convent building is a physical reminder that Jerusalem has had many attackers over the millennia.
Like the dragons’ teeth used decades ago for security in previous eras.
The Walls of the Old City were built to keep invaders out of Jerusalem.
So folks, on Friday afternoon, I could not find those riots which scared people away. Israeli security was out and around, but appeared relaxed.
In these upside down times, it is hard to know what to believe or think.
Of over 4,000 rockets from Gaza aimed at Israel, hundreds landed in Gaza.
How many caused damage and death to their own we will never know.
You will see the sad emotional photos of cement terror tunnels and military buildings destroyed in Gaza by big bad Israel.
But also know the Gaza that you don’t see that my friend shares on Twitter.
The latest “mini-war” is over. Though does anyone assume there won’t be another one in the future as Hamas rearms with the humanitarian materials once again sent to rebuild?
Hamas spokesperson Bassem Naim claimed to Sky News that international law does not apply to them – they can fire rockets from civilian areas & target Israeli civilians.
In the past 15 years, we have had Summer Rains, Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense, Protective Edge, Black Belt and Guardian of the Walls. What name will the computer generate next time? (They do sound better in Hebrew.)
Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, with corona slowly becoming a memory, let’s hope the Israel Festival is the first of many Jerusalem events to return.
Time to go back to complaining that Jerusalem is one big construction site.
Which streets will be closed next, after they finish King David Street?
Oh and will there be a new government or 5th election?
The only thing that seems certain now – President Reuven Rivlin’s term is over very soon. Either Yitzhak Herzog or Miriam Perez are in the running for the position to be voted on by the Israeli Knesset.
Stay well out there.
Hope to see you all soon on the Jerusalem streets.