Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Under Attack

Oh, Jerusalem!

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.

But then…

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.

Israel Under Fire – Again

The eerie ambulance sirens outside my window sound like old World War II movies set in Europe. But they are real, not video or fiction.

Here in Jerusalem, it is quiet. Perhaps too quiet for a Saturday night.

However, over 278 rockets were fired over Shabbat from Gaza into Israeli population centers. It is important to remember – at least 40 fell short, hitting Gazans. From the 2,900 rockets fired at Israel this past week, 450 fell in Gaza. They are killing their own. Also, the Israeli Electric Company will not be able to restore power to Gaza, because it is too dangerous now. Gazan rockets caused damage to their electricity supply.

Caterpillar Park in Sderot Israel for protection of children from rockets

In 2008, a cement caterpillar was built for the safety of children in Sderot. Frequent rockets from Gaza had made playing outside dangerous, now they had a place to shelter near their swings in the park.

I wrote about a visit south after attacks from Gaza three years ago.

Kibbutz Alumim bomb shelters near factory

Two years ago Kibbutz Alumim was under attack from Gaza. Their bomb shelters were placed closer to the factory entrance.

Sderot school with bomb shelters on field where children play

New schools built in the southern Israeli communities have multiple bomb shelters inside and on the grounds for children to seek a safe space.

Since 2012 I have been posting about raining rockets from Gaza.

Trips south to see bombed-out buildings much too frequent.

In 2012, seeing the Iron Dome at work for the first time was memorable,

but the new photos circulating of the iron dome at work are amazing.

At midnight May 16, 2021, a new barrage of rockets from Gaza was aimed at Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Tel Aviv, this was after multiple rockets during the days prior, day and night.

Sunday the IDF issued a statement: In response to continuous rocket fire at Israeli territory, over the last 24 hours, IAF fighter jets and aircraft struck over 90 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip.

What is important to remember, there is no equivalency between the terrorists in Gaza aiming thousands of rockets at civilian populations from in civilian locations to cause as much harm, even to their own when those rockets fall short and kill Gazans, to the Israeli precision strikes at terror structures and proclaimed terror leaders.

Here is the hospital shelter we had to go to in Tel Aviv, including patients fresh from surgery who had to get out of their beds, during a siren alert.

Where will this end? No one knows. Israel is trying to destroy the underground network and infrastructure of the terrorists. If Hamas stops the rocket and missile fire from Gaza – it’s over – at least for this time.

I have been on the road when a supposed cease fire was declared in the past, and no surprise, more rockets were fired.

Rockets from Gaza have and continue to kill Israelis in their homes. The damage to families running to shelter night after night is hard to calculate. But with every rocket or missile, there is injury, if not physical, emotional and psychological.

The Shavuot holiday begins soon, and I will leave you with a photo of some of the flowers I saw in Tel Aviv. Time is short, so I will save the photos of the outdoor cafes filled with diners one night – and empty the next.

At least the pizza delivery guys were busy as people stayed in off the streets.

And to end with a tradition, this “Hatikvah” was at the conclusion of a ceremony at Yad Vashem, “The Hope” – for better times ahead.

חג שמח

Happy and safe holiday for all.

Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day Week

Before 1967, Jerusalem was a sleepy old place, divided by a No-man’s Land. The buses arrived from the Tel Aviv area, chugging their way slowly up the winding, twisting Route One.

Jewish tourists were denied access to the Old City from 1948 – June 1967. Jews were not allowed to live in the Old City under Jordanian occupation. One had to go to the roof of Notre Dame to view the forlorn site of the Jewish Temple centuries ago.

Oh, how things have changed!

This year the population of Jerusalem is projected to exceed a million people.

Mayor Moshe Lion spoke at the annual Yekiray Yerushalayim, Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day event held at the Israel Museum on May 6th.

The previous venue for the event has been the Tower of David which is now under renovation and filled with construction equipment to make it accessible. For centuries the Tower of David was used as a military fortress to keep people out, now it is being redone to welcome everyone.

Renovation work also continues in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park.

This area was fenced off after it was sprayed with a questionable chemical.

It’s the time of year I love, when multiple colors line the Jerusalem streets.

A long time favorite, these bird of paradise are near the Knesset.

Pretty image of weeds

Even the weeds looked attractive in the evening light this week.

Other signs of returning to life, as Jerusalem festivals are back. Some are hybrid, consisting of live and recorded presentations, as was The Jerusalem Writers Festival on May 3-5th.

President Reuven Rivlin came to the Jerusalem Cinematheque to kick off
the 4th International Conference on the Freedom of the Press hosted by the Jerusalem Press Club.

The five journalism prize finalists were able to attend the live opening event held in the small theater, but most of the conference was online.

The week after Lag B’Omer was a time for weddings and celebrations. As I walked thru Mamilla Mall all I had to do was to look up to find a wedding.

Ramadan continues for another week, nightly Muslim families come to celebrate in the Old City after day time fasting.

Muslim men arrived at Jaffa Gate, with prayer rugs over their shoulder.

President Rivlin received suggestions for forming a new government at Beit Hanasi, the President’s Residence. Are we on the way to election #5?

Museum of Tolerance

The Museum of Tolerance appears to be nearing completion,

while work on the Netanyahu house continues,

and road work – too many locations to keep track of closings.

This year Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, is to go for a full week.

Jerusalem Day Israeli flags dancing in street

Last year under the corona cloud and lockdown there were no large celebrations for Yom Yerushalayim, the flags and dancing and parades were missing from the Jerusalem streets. This year the event is to return beginning on Monday afternoon, May 10th. In the evening following Jerusalem Day, the traditional Flag Dance will take place in the Old City at the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, plus multiple other events and locations.

From the May 6 opening honoring accomplishments of long-time Jerusalem residents to the special Shabbat service at the Great Synagogue hosting the Jerusalem Mayor, and until a closing concert at Safra Square on May 13th– the celebrations have returned to Jerusalem.


A festive prayer service is to be held at the Kotel, in honor of 54 years since the liberation of Jerusalem. It will begin, at 7:30 pm, on Sunday, May 9th,  as usual, combined with prayers in memory of those killed and for the recovery of those wounded at the tragedy at Mt. Meron, as well as prayers of thanksgiving for the miracle of Israel’s recovery from the coronavirus. Added will be a mass “hagomel” blessing for the first time during the Jerusalem Day eve prayers to offer gratitude for Israel’s recovery following more than a year of the pandemic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGgZbjYo1wA

Everyone can join using the above link for the live broadcast on the platforms of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Jerusalem Municipality, and itraveljerusalem.

To conclude, I am sharing Eitan Asraf’s excellent video, with visuals and edits in under 8 minutes, he has captured a wonderful overview of Jerusalem. Jerusalem Day is to be extraordinary. City website HERE

Yom Yerushalayim Sameach!