UPDATES: No terrorist activity in Israel overnight.
As readers of this blog know, your humble servant often takes time to thank his readers. In the last 72 hours alone, here are some of the places where readers of this blog have come from:
Sacramento, CA; Mumbai, India; Thornhill, Canada; Boston, MA; St. Louis, MO; Wunsiedel, Germany; St. Peter, MN; Riga, Latvia; Rancho Cordova, CA; Worthing, Great Britain; Claremore, OK; Sunnyvale, CA; Puyallup, WA; Winnipeg, Canada; Wolfville, Canada; Tokyo, Japan; Moody, AL; Kiev, Ukraine; Woodland, CA; Beirut, Lebanon; Ramat Gan, Israel; Sydney, Australia; Beijing, China; Dublin, Ireland; Madras, India; Taldom, Russia; Tel Aviv, Israel; Kefar Yona, Israel; Austin, TX; San Antonio, TX; Sepahan, Iran; Brooklyn, NY; Grass Valley, CA; Attard, Malta; Chester-le-street, Great Britain; Karachi, Pakistan; Istanbul, Turkey; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Mountain View, CA; Izegem, Belgium; Columbus, OH; Singapore, Singapore; Toledo, OH; Charlotte, NC; Stockholm, Sweden; Westford, MA; Preston, Great Britain; Rishon Le Zion, Israel; Soues, France; Moscow, Russia; Hendon, Great Britain; Montreal, Canada; Philadelphia, PA; Gaza, Palestinian Territory; Birmingham, Great Britain; Kirkland, WA; Merrylands, Australia; Lihue, HI; Londonderry, NH; Walnut Creek CA; Reykavik, Iceland; Conyers, GA; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Goteborg, Sweden; Wilmington, DE; Bahrain; West Orange, NJ; New York, NY; Haifa, Israel; Huntington, WV; Essex Junction, VT; Hixson, TN; Berlin, Germany; Des Plaines, IL; Saskatoon, CA; Hamburg, Germany; Wuhan, China; Fortaleza, Brazil; Thimister, Belgium; Ramat Gan, Israel; Ramat Hasharon, Israel; Whitesboro, TX; Antelope, CA; Seattle, WA; Scranton, PA; Taipei, Taiwan; Kotelniki, Russia; Caracas, Venezuela; Jakarta, Indonesia; St. Paul, MN; Antalya, Turkey; Kiselev, Ukraine; West Newton, MA; Dallas, TX; Oklahoma City, OK; Las Vegas, NV; North Hollywood, CA; Temple, TX; London, Great Britain; Netze, Germany; Eindhoven, Netherlands; Oviedo, Spain; Denham Springs, TX; Odsmal, Sweden; Kountze, TX; Beachwood, OH; Cambridge, MA; Bulverde, TX; Dublin, Ireland; San Francisco, CA; Paris, France; Davis, CA; Doha, Qatar; Hicksville, NY; Heddesheim, Germany; Phoenixville, PA; Guangzhou, China; Kfar Saba, Israel; Malvern, AR; Johannesburg, South Africa.
Your humble servant would like to thank all of you dear readers from around the world who have joined the israelstreet family and made this blog such a success!
Your humble servant and his family travel to Eilat every year. For the last decade, we have always taken Highway 40 which goes through the Negev from Beersheva to Mitzpe Ramon, then down into the world’s largest makhtesh (a recessed crater 38 km long, 6 km wide, and 450 meters deep), and on to Eilat on the Red Sea.
We always stop at the same gasoline station/snack bar in Mitzpe (as we call it) for a stretch and snacks before we start the steep descent into the makhtesh. At an elevation of almost 2800 feet, it is perched on the edge of the crater–and offers beautifully pristine views of the surrounding desert.
Leaving the station, we always spot groups of Nubian ibexes, part of a herd that regularly roams through Mitzpe and inhabits the nearby cliffs–cliffs that are rich in wildlife with leopards, hyenas, gazelles, wolves, hyraxes, Afghan foxes, caracals, and Griffith vultures.
If Mitzpe Ramon sounds a little bit like a desert oasis, that is because it is.
The southernmost of the Negev development towns, Mitzpe Ramon was founded in 1951 as a base camp for workers who were building Highway 40 to Eilat. It subsequently became inhabited by immigrants from North Africa and Romania and grew slowly and peacefully to its current population of about 5,500 residents.
At least there were about 5,500 residents until a few months ago.
According to the Israeli Interior Ministry, another 4,500 people are now jammed into Mitzpe Ramon. These 4,500 are largely Arabic speaking, Muslim “refugees” from Sudan and Eritrea who have walked across the Egyptian Sinai and infiltrated illegally across the Egyptian border. They have now basically taken over the town–squatting in every available place. Despite the best efforts of the local population to feed and clothe them, there are simply not enough resources to deal with these “refugees”.
And the Interior Ministry now projects that in another six months, the number of Eritreans and Sudanese will actually outnumber the number of citizens in Mitzpe.
This is a pattern being repeated throughout the Negev area in small and large towns alike. Eilat now finds that 25% of its population consists of illegal Eritreans and Sudanese.
Eventually, Israel will finish its fence along the Egyptian border, but until that happens, more than 3000 Eritreans and Sudanese are streaming into Israel every month–Eritreans and Sudanese who are dramatically altering the demography of southern Israel.
What will happen to all of these refugees who are already in Israel after the fence is finished? Deportation? Absorption? At the moment, it is anybody’s guess.
THIS DAY IN ISRAELI HISTORY
On January 14, 1967, Palestinian terrorists planted a land mine just outside an Israeli soccer stadium that exploded, killing 1 Israeli man and severely injuring 2 more.
On January 14, 1994, Grigory Ivanov was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in the industrial zone near Erez Junction. Islamist terrorist Hamas took credit for his murder.
On January 14, 2001, the bullet riddled body of Ron Tzalah, 32, of Kfar Yam in Gush Katif, was found near the Kfar Yam agricultural hothouses. Hamas proudly took responsibility for Tzalah’s murder.
On January 14, 2002, Sergeant Elad Abu-Gani, 19, of Tiberias, was killed and an officer sustained gunshot wounds in a terrorist ambush near Kuchin, between Nablus and Tulkarm. Fatah claimed responsibility for the attack.
On January 14, 2004, Corporal Andrei Kegeles, 19, of Nahariya; St.-Sgt. Tzur Or, 20, of Rishon Lezion; security guard Gal Shapira, 29, of Ashkelon; and Border Policeman St.-Sgt. Vladimir Trostinsky, 22, of Rehovot were all murdered and 10 more Israelis were critically wounded when a female suicide bomber detonated a bomb at the Erez Crossing in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed joint responsibility for the attack.