Beginning 6/19, we left Jerusalem and began travelling. We spent the majority of the day in Sderot, a town I am familiar with from previous summers of volunteering. Dar, our local guide, was very thorough and explained the situation very well. One thing that definitely stuck out to me was that the average rocket launched from Gaza costs $150-$200, while one Iron Dome defense missile costs $62,000. For this reason, the Iron Dome system does not destroy the small Cassam rockets, nor rockets which are headed for unpopulated fields and other areas. For this reason, over 8,500 rockets have hit Sderot, which is a total sham and a disrespect to the community. Unfortunately, as Dar explained, many people, even Jews in Israel, are not aware of Sderot’s situation, or they assume the town is a military base and that is why it is targeted. Finally, that evening, we were treated to an authentic Israeli “bbq” dinner, which I very much enjoyed. The staff was very friendly, and we all sat around swapping stories and sharing experiences from the day.
The next day, on 6/20, we spent the morning learning about the Bedouin population and how they play into the huge web of factions that is Israel. Unfortunately, many of the Bedouins are illegally settling land, despite the Israeli government offering them parcels of land (based on number of wives, woah) for free. The Israeli Government has not yet found the time or money to deal with these illegal dwellings as of yet, and the longer they wait the harder it will be. The Bedouin are responsible for much of the illegal gun and drug trade in Israel, and they even engage in the practice of selling women as wives. Of course, the UN has decreed that the Bedouin are indigenous only to the Negev, and not to any of the other countries or areas they exist in or roam around. The double standard is astounding.
For the evening, an Israeli Rock Singer named Gilad Vital came to our hotel in Arad and shared his story. Gilad grew up in Northern Israel, under constant rocket fire from Hezbollah. He shared a very inspiring story, and explained how after the army he traveled, and it was there he began to finally and fully appreciate the importance of the IDF and Israelis struggle. He played awesome classic rock, both American and Israeli, and he had everyone clapping and dancing out of their seats by the end. I hope to bring him to my University in Boston. So good so far!