Archives for March 2011

03.27.2011 – Coexistence in maternity ward

As tensions mount on border, Palestinian woman from Gaza and Israeli woman from Gaza vicinity kibbutz lie side by side at Rehovot hospital after giving birth to their baby girls

Meital Yasur Beit-Or

Published: 03.27.11, 07:24 / Israel Culture

Complex Israeli reality creates unusual meeting: On the backdrop of the Israel border, a Palestinian woman from the Gaza Strip and an Israeli resident of a Gaza vicinity kibbutz found themselves last week hospitalized in the same room at the Kaplan Medical Center’s maternity ward.

The Palestinian woman, Naama Athoua of Jabaliya, was rushed to the Rehovot hospital last Sunday at the end of the ninth month of her pregnancy in a life-endangering situation.

Dr. Avi Metzkel, head of the hospital’s high-risk pregnancy unit, explained that Naama arrived with a very low number of platelets, which could have led to a hemorrhage and put the life of the mother and fetus in danger.

“The patient was brought to Kaplan due to the fact that she was unable to receive proper care in the Strip at the end of her pregnancy,” said Dr. Metzkel. “We began with aggressive treatment, and within two days the number of platelets reached normal values and she went into labor without causing the fetus any distress.

“The baby girl was born in a completely normal delivery, and at the moment the mother’s condition is stable and she is receiving medication allowing her to breastfeed. Naama will soon be discharged back to Gaza, with instructions for continued treatment.”

Athoua gave birth to her sixth daughter, Mina, and was hospitalized in Kaplan’s maternity ward. Later in the week she was joined by Yael Frenkel of Kibbutz Sa’ad in the Gaza vicinity, who gave birth to her first daughter.

Several minutes after being transferred with her baby from the delivery room to the maternity ward, Frenkel discovered that her roommate was a neighbor from Gaza. “The kibbutz is really close to Gaza, and we have minimal contact with our neighbors from the Strip,” she said.

“My husband serves as the kibbutz’s security coordinator, and unfortunately some rockets have been fired into our community from the Gaza area in the past. The irony of faith is that while I was in the room with Naama Athoua, my husband’s parents informed me that a rocket hit their home in Beersheba. Nonetheless, a baby is a baby, and I’m glad that the Kaplan medical staff managed to save the life of Naama and her baby girl.”

“The reality outside the maternity ward had no effect on the good and relaxed atmosphere between the two women in the room. We nurses tried to provide a pleasant and homelike atmosphere,” added nurse Larisa Kolash



03.25.2011 – Family Affair / The Speyers, Bnei Re’em

Hadar (37 ), Moshe (37 ), Mor (13 ), Shahar (11 ), Talia (6 ), of the religious moshav, Bnei Re’em.

By  and Avner Avrahami | Mar.25, 2011 | 12:31 PM

The Speyers at home in Moshav Bnei Re’em ‏(from left‏): Shahar and Moshe, Talia, Hadar and Mor; on the floor: Patrick.

* The cast: Hadar (37 ), Moshe (37 ), Mor (13 ), Shahar (11 ), Talia (6 ).

* The home: The family lives “in the expansion section” of the moshav, or cooperative rural village, in 170 square meters on half a dunam (1/8 acre ), in a contemporary, one-floor home with a flat roof. The walls are yellowish; in the front is tuff and plants on window sills, palms, a Chinese orange tree and philodendron growing in earthen jars; in the back is a pergola, grass, an olive tree, Chinese honeysuckle and a vineyard.

* Vineyard: On the other side of the fence, belonging to a neighbor (“He has a boutique winery” ), the vineyard stretches to the horizon and is rather bare at the moment. The family gets two bottles as a gift every year.

* Entering: On the other side of the broad entry door (with iron fittings) sits Patrick (a rabbit who has been placed on the porch for some air, in his cage ). There is a large space with “matte-silk porcelain” floor tiling. This is the “public area,” which includes living room, open kitchen (with an island ), dining area, TV corner and a study with two computers. On the left is the “private area,” consisting of a master bedroom and three children’s rooms (“without computers on principle, and we also know their Facebook passwords” ). The architectural principles were set by Hadar.

* Architectural principles: The structure is on one floor, all the bedrooms face east for “delightful morning light,” and the construction lines are hidden and reflected in the interior design, we are told. Gray is beautiful but earth colors are preferable (“They create a sense of warmth” ). We are given a tour.

* Tour: The living room contains two brown suede sofas (purchased at Bilu Junction ) and a coffee table at a diagonal, as though straddling an angle between them (the hidden construction line again ). Abutting the wall are two Mexican-style chairs (from Tel Aviv ), on the ceiling is a trellised lampshade (from Cyprus ) with multiple candle-like light bulbs. There is no carpet (“We preferred not to cover the floor” ). A wall niche contains a library of religious works, including a Babylonian Talmud and also two shofars (ram’s horns ), a bar-mitzvah gift to Mor from his grandfather. We head for the bedrooms.

* The bedrooms: Mor’s room boasts a Real Madrid flag, Shahar is a Barcelona fan and Talia has flowers painted above her pink-covered bed. We peek into the master bedroom (the bed has a broad, altar-like wooden frame ), then look into the study (a Technion diploma ) and finally gather around the kitchen island (muffins from the oven ).

* Real estate history: The family moved here from Rehovot in 2006, paying (“everything included” ) NIS 900,000 (“Let’s see you buy a house like this today for NIS 2.5 million” ). They have a mortgage (12 years ) and are living with it “peacefully.” Their neighbors in the Ackerstein-paved neighborhood are, like them, affiliated with the national-religious movement (“People don’t drive here on Shabbat” ).

* Livelihoods and occupations: Moshe is an accountant and a partner in Micha Azoulay & Co. on Hashmonaim Street, Tel Aviv. He works a six-day week, on Tuesdays and Fridays teaches chartered accountancy at the College of Management in Rishon Letzion (“Teaching is therapy” ), finds the profession’s creativity in tax planning and says December is the cruelest month (tax returns ). He gets to work and back in his 2010 Suzuki Alto along with the shuttle into Tel Aviv from the new parking lot outside the city on the highway (“I was one of the first users” ), which he terms a success story (“45 minutes from home to office door” ). Twice a week he makes sure to get home by 4 P.M. (“I am a father at home” ), assists the children when needed in mathematics and Gemara (“my subjects” ).

* Hadar: She is an architect, a graduate of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, self-employed and working from home. She focuses on private residential design and has clients from the area: Rehovot, Yad Binyamin, Ganei Tal and Nehusha (“which is more of a nature reserve, without lighting at nights, so the grasshoppers can mate” ). She believes in functionality (“An architect is not a sculptor” ), describes Jerusalem’s Chord’s Bridge as “a clever wink in a heavy city.” Being self-employed, she says, allows her to divide the day so that she can be “a mom at home.” In addition, she does volunteer work once a week (Wednesday mornings ) at a nursing home in Yad Binyamin (“I felt that I was missing the act of giving” ), and drives a 2009 Ford Focus station wagon.

* The children: Mor is in the eighth grade in a yeshiva that is part of a network of religious institutions for boys and girls named for Rabbi Kook in Yad Binyamin (NIS 8,500 a year ), gets home after a long school day, but next year will sleep over (at his request ) in the yeshiva’s boarding school twice a week and every second Shabbat. Extra-curricular activities: soccer and breeding fish (“I have ‘Thai fighters,’ a goldfish and two Telescopes [a type of goldfish]” ). Shahar is in the fifth grade in a state-religious school in Yad Binyamin and plays soccer in the afternoon with a regular group of children (“I’m a forward who can smell goals” ). Talia attends a local kindergarten, getting there and back with Mom, except for Tuesdays (Dad ).

* Moshe’s bio: Born in 1974, Bnei Brak, Moshe spent his childhood in Rishon Letzion and has two younger brothers (“For 65 years only boys were born in our family – until Talia” ); his native-born parents, children of Holocaust survivors, were members of Bnei Akiva, the national-religious youth movement. His father, whose origins are in Germany, was a financial adviser (until he suffered a stroke ); his mother, descended from Hungarian parents, was a teacher. Moshe attended a state-religious primary school in Rishon Letzion, a high-school yeshiva, then a pre-army religious institution in Safed before doing military service in the navy. He married Hadar in the course of that service.

* Hadar: Nee Schwarzappel, she was born in 1973 (November 29, the anniversary of the UN partition resolution ) and is eldest of four (two brothers and a sister ) in their religious-Zionist family; her parents are native-born and her grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Her father is a vice president for finances in an investment company, her mother is an interior designer. She attended a primary state-religious school in Rishon Letzion, then an ulpana (girls’ religious school ) in which she took expanded matriculation courses in Bible, Mishna and chemistry; she did army service (“which was not really encouraged by the ulpana” ) in Safed as a teacher-soldier within the framework of the Israel Society for the Protection of Nature (“with an emphasis on Safed’s heritage, hikes in Amud valley” ). She has known Moshe since childhood; they were both members of Bnei Akiva when it was still coed. “There is a tendency toward ultra-Orthodoxy,” he says, “a tendency of ‘strengthening.'” In any event, before he left for the pre-army institution in Safed, he asked her siblings if they would like him to take her a package (she was already serving there ). Hadar, updated about this development, was curious and called him.

* The meeting: At the end of that conversation they arranged to meet in a Chinese restaurant in Rishon Letzion. “It was on the fourth day of [the Hebrew month of] Shvat, in the year 5752,” they both remember. “And I also remember her hair flying in the wind,” Moshe says. They were married after two years and nine months.

* The wedding: It was in 1994 at the Genesis Hall, Rishon Letzion. Moshe was a soldier, Hadar a student; the parents paid (“We weren’t even 21 yet” ). Moshe recalls almost collapsing when the photographer asked him to carry the bride on his shoulders (“Even though she weighed 49 kilos, I didn’t take the dress into account” ). The families, who knew each other, wept with happiness. The Wine Grapes Band played Hasidic music and then went into samba mode. All the children were born in Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot (“with epidural” ).

* Daily routine: Moshe gets up at 6 A.M., washes his hands, dresses and leaves for Tel Aviv without having anything to eat or drink. He recites the morning prayers in the old synagogue of the Montefiore neighborhood near his office and then has a bagel with Bulgarian cheese at Schnitzel King (a nearby restaurant ). Hadar gets up at 6:30, wakes Mor, prepares a chocolate drink and sandwiches for everyone, has a glass of water and wakes Shahar and Talia. Mor leaves for her transportation to school, followed by Shahar 20 minutes later. Hadar drives Talia to the kindergarten at 8 (“after a stormy argument about what to wear” ).

* Lunch: Moshe has a big meal in a salad place (“Couscous is mandatory on Wednesdays at Kebab-Burger” ), Mor eats only Mom’s food in the yeshiva (he doesn’t like the food that’s served there ), and Shahar, Talia and Hadar eat at home (“Pasta and schnitzel are always welcome” ). Mor gets back between 5 and 6 P.M., Moshe is flexible (between 4 and 9:30 ), but supper is at 6:30. Hadar only nibbles so that she can have a late hot meal with Moshe (“sweet potato ravioli” ).

* TV: Hadar likes “Grey’s Anatomy” and the Israeli series “Yellow Peppers,” Moshe goes for “the Champions League [in soccer] and ‘TV-sleeping,'” Talia likes the Children’s Channel on cable TV, and the boys rarely watch.

* Dreams: “To live in Safed when we’re old” – Hadar; “To have real conversations with Dad like we used to” – Moshe. Mor – “a lawyer,” Shahar – “to play for Barcelona,” Talia – “to be a mom.”

* Household chores: The family has a cleaning person from Ashkelon once a week, for four hours (NIS 40/hour plus travel expenses ). Hadar is in charge of cooking, laundry and sick children, bills is Moshe, shopping is together (“the Rami Levy supermarket in the Big center at Kastina Junction and extra stuff from Shmulik’s grocery store” ).

* Fights and making up: “If you come from a religious home, there is less chance of divorce,” Moshe says, “and we, thank God, have not had any difficult periods in our relationship.”

* Peace: “There is no partner,” Moshe says. “The disengagement from Gaza was a pilot effort that failed.” Hadar: “Life is more important than land.”

* Happiness quotient (scale of 1-10 ): Hadar, Moshe and Shahar – 9; Mor and Talia – 10.

The place

Bnei Re’em – This is a religious moshav located near Re’em Junction (Masmiya ), named for the Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (an acronym in Hebrew ), and established 1949.

03.24.2011 – Israel under fire – escalation in rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza

24 Mar 2011
The current escalation began on March 19 when exceptional barrages of over 50 120mm-mortar shells targeted villages in the western Negev.
Home in southern Israel hit by Kassam rocket, Mar 26, 2011 (Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/ Chameleons Eye)
Home in southern Israel hit by Kassam rocket, Mar 26, 2011 (Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/ Chameleons Eye)
On Saturday, March 19, terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired some 50 mortars into southern Israel, landing in the areas of Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, and Sdot Hanegev. These attacks – which represent an unprecedented increase in the projectile fire emanating from the Gaza Strip since the end of Operation Cast Lead in 2009 – injured two Israeli civilians in a Kibbutz in Eshkol and caused damage to property. Launched from the Gaza Strip with the clear intention of targeting and terrorizing Israeli civilians, these mortars exploded in and around populated areas. The Hamas terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for these attacks.

On Tuesday afternoon (March 22), mortars were fired from northern Gaza towards the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council in southern Israel. In response, the IDF fired mortars at the launching point in Gaza. It appears that Palestinians uninvolved in the original mortar firing were injured by these mortars.

On Tuesday evening (March 22), Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a cell of four terrorists in the Gaza Strip as they attempted to launch a Grad rocket towards Israel. A hit was identified and the IAF planes returned to their base safely. The terrorists were attempting to launch the Grad rocket a short time after another Grad rocket fell in open territory in Ashkelon, causing no injuries or damage.

The IDF regrets the harm caused to these uninvolved Palestinians. However, the IDF wishes to emphasize that it is the terrorist organization Hamas that chose to launch mortars from amongst the civilian population, using them as human shields. The following day, the IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration coordinated the transfer of an 8-year-old Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip to Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot after he was injured by Israeli mortar fire.

On Tuesday night (March 22), a Grad missile which was fired from the Gaza Strip landed 5 km south of the center of Ashdod – a port city in southern Israel with a population of over 200,000. The following day, Israeli Air Force aircraft targeted a rocket launching device in the northern Gaza Strip from which a Grad missile was fired at Ashdod last night. A hit was confirmed.

On Wednesday morning (March 23) at around 5:30 a.m, a Grad rocket fired from Gaza landed in the city of Beer Sheba, causing damage to infrastructure and a residential building. One man was injured by shrapnel and transfered to the Soroka Hospital. Three other people were treated by rescue forces for shock.

Two Grad rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed on Thursday (March 24) in open territory in the Ashdod area and the Eshkol Regional Council. Since Thursday morning, six other rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, causing no damage or injuries.

On Saturday (March 26), three Kassam rockets were fired at Israeli territory, one causing severe damage to a home in the Eshkol Regional Council area.

In response to the barrage of Grad rockets, Kassam rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza at the Israeli home front in the south, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has targeted smuggling tunnels and terror activity sites in the Gaza Strip.

“Iron Dome” system to be deployed in southern Israel

Photo: IDF Spokesperson

March 25: The IDF Chief of the General Staff has ordered, in accordance with government directives, to deploy the Iron Dome system in southern Israel in the coming days.

The Iron Dome is considered a significant achievement of the Israeli security industry, at the moment in the process of assimilating into the air force and to being put into operational use. The system is currently under evaluation. It will be used to respond to the threat of rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel. Its capabilities including attacking, alerting and protection.

The decision to accelerate the deployment of the system was made in light of recent events in southern Israel and according to security assessments. The deployment will not be permanent, allowing the systems to be moved between areas according to evolving security assessments.

PM Netanyahu at the weekly Cabinet meeting (Sunday, 27 March 2011):

“Israel has been under missile threat for 20 years, since the Gulf War. I do not want to foster the illusion that Iron Dome, which we are deploying today, for the first time, will provide a complete or comprehensive answer.

Iron Dome is still in the experimental stage and we do not have the possibility of deploying batteries to protect every home, school, base and installation. The true answer to the missile threat is a combination of aggressive and deterrent measures, protective measures and a strong stand by the Government and the public.

In any case, Israel holds Hamas responsible for everything fired at us from the Gaza Strip.”

03.23.11 – Palestinian boy injured by IDF fire taken for treatment in Israel

Palestinian boy injured by IDF fire taken for treatment in Israel
23 March 2011 , 20:24
Palestinian boy injured by IDF fire taken for treatment in Israel

The boy was injured during IDF retaliation to rocket fire from the northern Gaza Strip and will be given full medical treatment. Archive photo: IDF Spokesperson IDF Spokesperson

IDF Website

The IDF, the Civil Administration and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories coordinated the reception of a Palestinian child who was seriously injured in the IAF’s retaliation attack in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday (Mar. 22) for full medical treatment at the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

The eight-year-old boy was taken for treatment in Israel by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot’s request to Palestinian officials.

On Tuesday, IDF forces responded to projectiles fired at Israeli territory  from the northern Gaza Strip. The attack took place in the afternoon when projectiles were fired toward the area of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. In response, IDF forces fired mortars to the point from which rockets were launched resulting in the injury of uninvolved civilians. Among them was the boy taken for medical treatment in Israel today.

The IDF regrets harming any uninvolved civilians but stresses that it is the Hamas terror organization which chooses to operate from the heart of civilian activity and uses people as a human shield. The event is currently being investigated.