As I reported in yesterday’s blog, posted this morning, I woke with the knowledge that the ceasefire was to begin at 8.00 am.
I woke some time before 8. Then I heard a boom which sounded 5-10 miles away and another more distant one. Apparently a major barrage across central Israel and the Negev. One rocket hit near Bethlehem seriously damaging a Palestinian house. Fortunately, no-one was injured.
This rather contradicts Hamas’s claim that thir rockets only target Jews. But what would the world have said if that rocket hit the Church of the Nativity?
So far, the ceasefire has held all day.
We decided to rest for most of the morning then set off for Tel Aviv. My main impression here was the number of flags hanging from buildings and flying from cars. Not huge flags, but small statements of patriotism and solidarity.
We visited the port of Tel Aviv and Hayaarkon Park where the river runs through and under a sequence of road and pedestrian bridges and widens into a park with a zoo and other facilities.
We watched people canoeing and rowing, and generally messing about in boats. In the distance the towering downtown skyline, so recently streaked with rocket trails and Iron Dome interceptions. I could not help but wonder what the people of Gaza would have made of that scene. I had thoughts of 1st and 3rd world countries butted up against each other and thought of the accusations of Apartheid. But the faces I met on my walk – black, brown, white, Asian, Oriental, Arab and Jew – gave the lie to that. What we have are two peoples living in disturbingly different worlds in the same small space.
One part of haYaarkon Park is given over to collections of black obelisks, flanking plantations of palm trees, each obelisk engraved with the names of Israelis who died in its various wars and from terror attacks.
On one, relatives of the deceased had stuck small ‘yizkor’ or annual remembrace notes attached to now dried and faded flowers, some flanked by the Israeli flag; very poignant in the early evening heat of a Tel Aviv summer rush hour.
Back ‘home’, Israel’s Channel 10 was presenting, as far as I could make out, my Hebrew being rather primitive, a balanced view of the Gaza aftermath; scenes of devastion in Gaza, interviews with Gazans, discussions in the studio, without the haranguing, sarcasm and naked partisan aggression of the British television interviewer whose default manner is to present a tone and facial expression which can only be described as revulsion, reserved exclusively for representatives of the Israeli government.
Other news stories from the UK shown today were the resignation of Baroness Warsi due to her disagreeing with her government’s policy on Gaza, David Miliband’s defence of her, and the Tricycle’s theatre’s hypocritical cancelling of its eight year hosting of the Jewish Film Festival because it is part-funded by the Israeli Embassy.
Being away from the UK certainly gives a different perspective on your own country’s news output. I feel calmer here, not being constantly bombarded by skewed news coverage of Gaza.
There’s no triumphalism in Israel. Too many died.