Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ashdod and the Terror Flotilla

We spent last weekend in Ashdod where the Terror Flotilla and the Rachel Corrie have put in. Ashdod is a large, thriving beach metropolis, now the fourth largest city in Israel. It is hot and humid here in the summer, and we kept telling our friends that they had to come to the high desert in Mitzpe Ramon if they really wanted comfortable summer weather.

There seems to be a continuous building boom in Ashdod, as in many Israeli cities, even tho Ashdod is in range of terrorist missiles from the Gaza Strip. One struck and destroyed a home near our friends' apartment during Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. The sunsets over the Mediterranean Sea are beautiful in Ashdod and the beach inviting. There is even a ruined Byzantine Fortress on the beach which is fun to explore.

Mediterranean sunset at Ashdod (Click for full size image).

Exotic African trees grow in Ashdod

Ashdod and the area south of it, including the Gaza Strip, were home to the Philistines in Biblical times (which is why the Romans denigradingly called Judea "Philistia"), and with the Hamas presence in Gaza today, the area continues its tradition as a sanctuary for the enemies of the Jews. The story of Samson and the Philistines is commemorated near the beach with this statue.

Samson destroys the Philistine temple. (Note Delilah's shears.)

The Port of Asdod is a busy commercial shipping center. You can always see large container vessels in the waters off the beach and docked at the port's piers.

Ashdod port, to the right in the distance.

Panoramic view of Ashdod Port from Jonah's Hill. The military section of the port is to the left surrounded by the cement break wall. (Click for full-size image.) 

Much of the news coverage about the Terror Flotilla originated from Givat Yonah or Jonah's Hill, as it overlooks the port, and the port itself was off-limits to reporters while the Flotilla was docked.

A German (or Dutch?) reporter broadcasting last Saturday night from Jonah's Hill, the day the Rachel Corrie was brought to Ashdod Port.

Jonah's Hill is the site of a lighthouse and modern day sea radar to help ships navigate the Port area. The structure also looks like a Ralston Purina factory with its red checked paint.

Ashdod lighthouse and sea radar on Jonah's Hill.

In the daylight you can see the anti-Hamas and anti-Turkish graffiti written nearby.

Tradition holds that this hill, Givat Yonah or Jonah's Hill, is the burial place of Jonah the Prophet. It was also a lookout for the British during the mandate to prevent "illegal" Jewish immigrants from entering Palestine. On a clear day you can see Gaza to the south and Jerusalem to the east. How fitting, then, that it now overlooks the Port City of Ashdod which keeps out weapons for  Gaza terrorists.

(As always, click for full-size image.)

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