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Mihal Eliav lives in Beersheba. Previously, she wrote about her visits to Sderot where she plans to live. Now she has written several impressions of Beersheba under attack. Her second Beersheba war diary entry was published here. This is the second.

Shalom all,
Waited a few days this time before writing, to let my brain cool down a little. This might or might not work- here goes:

I was out to Sderot again day before yesterday to visit a friend. This was the first time the trip didn't include that strange moment of electric knowledge: now we're in range. This time, the whole thing is in range. Here in Be'er Sheva, direct hits on a high school across the way, a nursery school and the Ethiopian artists' workshop next to the student dorms, and houses etc. along the road. Netivot. Sderot, where upon alighting, the first thing I saw was the damage to the little shuk.

My cafe was open and I had a coffee I didn't want, to show solidarity, then walked up to B's neighborhood on the extreme west side of town. Most of the shops are closed, and all the nice cafťs are open but empty. Empty streets, very pleasant - if it wasn't for the reason.

Sitting on his front porch, B and I were interrupted three times in the course of the morning. His shelter is under the stairs in a little closet. It is similar to mine, only he's got a nice stock of wine in there just in case. We made lunch around noon and were interrupted in the middle of the first spoonful.

These interruptions are short - Sderot is only 4 kilometers from the border, so between the time the radar senses the shot, the siren (only there it's a voice, very loud) and the sound of the fall, is only about 15 seconds. One waits in shelter after the boom for only a few seconds before going out and carrying on with whatever it was. So the soup was still nice and hot.

B is in trouble with the Lefties, of which he is one, because he won't toe the line. This line is the one which condemns Israel for disproportionate response. I'm with B; I know that whatever their limitations intellectually, Hamas knows without the shadow of a doubt that Israel has far, far more fire power than they do. So, the risks are clear and there is no point in spelling it out yet again.

Sderot is full of journalists and impressive equipment. Some look like they're camping there. Sderot is also full of volunteers from all over, mostly they do activities with kids in the neighborhood shelters. Single mums and their kids are away, bussed to the Children's Museum in Holon for the day. The youth centers in various out-of-range towns are organizing 'fun days' and new experiments in distance learning. Mostly, Sderot is full of a stoic fear.

In the line of my duty as a reporter, I went to a hill just near B's house. Since the start of the ground attack, there are people on this hill, watching the war in Gaza. Here's what it looks like: the hill is directly above road 34 to kibbutz Yad Mordechai. About 500m further, looking directly west over the fields of Nir Am, you see the border; a low but complicated fence with a plowed strip. In front of the border are some greenhouses, and there are some on the other side too. Looking southwest, you can see all of Gaza City under a pall of smoke. Letting the eye travel slowly north, you see (though it looks like one large city) the Jabaliya refugee camp, then Beyt Lahiya, then Beyt Hanun, then the area where the Erez crossing is, then some areas of fields and trees, then either Karmiya or Yad Mordechai. Zikim is there too but hidden by trees. You see a lot of sea behind, starting approximately where Erez is. [Oh, I miss those beautiful beaches...] Then you see the chimneys of the power plant, and part of white Ashkelon. Now, turn east and follow the land across the gently rolling landscape of Lachish province. It's getting green out there, though this winter has been dry. To my taste, this is one of the prettiest parts of the country. Look further east and a bit north - what??!! Kiryat Gat, by golly, I can't believe it's so, so close! I used to work there, that's halfway across Israel! OK, the map shows that it's just under 20k, pretty close after all. But then- look further east, as far as you can see. Yes, it's the Hevron range. Which means that if Hamas only doubles its range again, it could start pounding on the PA! The implications and confusions are too much.

Everything to the west and north is covered with an ugly yellowgrey cloud of bomb smoke. War. Otherwise, there's not a lot to see. No action, no jet trails, no mushroom clouds. Two large balloons, one near where Dugit used to be and one closer to the power station, are tethered at medium height - these according to my informant, carry the sensors that warn us of immanent missile. They don't move; nothing moves in this scene except the occasional bird or butterfly. The last building in a row of apartment houses in Beyt Hannun is out of line- it must've taken a pretty hard hit.

The people, 10 or so, on the hill are just standing around looking. One has a chair, one has some major cameras with lenses like artillery; one or two have binoculars. There is little talk. B writes:

"Local residents have come to watch with their children and some have even brought easy chairs with them . Garinim (sunflower seeds) are passed around and my binoculars are in great demand by the kids. I talk to some of them and they tell me about their friends and workers over there with whom they worked and drank and played shesh besh (backgammon) and how they feel for them, and at the same time how good it is to see them, finally, getting their true dessert. 'It is better than television' one says, and they laugh.

"There is a ĎRED ALERTí on our side and nobody pays attention. I ask them whether they are not scared and they laugh. 'God will take care of us' says another amid hoots of agreement. The whole situation is surrealistic."

None of this, not even the air above dear Ashkelon, is clear. -So I can only observe and try to record these impressions for later thought.

Your hawkeye in the south,

Mihal Eliav

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000651.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 3 Comments

What does Israel have to say about the life of a Palestinian, dead or alive? Also, what does Zionism have to do with Judaism? Wasn't it a political movement? And if it does have a connection with Judaism, why are so many Jews opposed to it?

Henson Shakleburg, Wednesday, January 28th

Palestinians should convert to Judaism

Philip I, Saturday, January 10th

I wonder how it would feel and I wonder what one would do if one was to be evicted from one's property because the American Government decided to do the right thing and give that property back to the indigenous population whom it was originally stolen from.

I reckon not one property owner who would be happy with that, they would probably take up arms to protect their property, yet the American Indian has equal if not greater claim to their lands than Zionists to Palestine.

As such is it not reasonable for the Palestinians to be really pissed off?

David B, Saturday, January 10th

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