Israel’s Wondrous Ashdod! Come With Us On Our Morning Walk


UPDATE  9:26 pm Israel time Saturday

Multiple, massive explosions have just occurred to the south of our position here in Ashdod. Further updates as available. Mini update: the explosions were missile attacks on Ashkelon and Iron Dome intercepts over the city.

UPDATE 8:30 pm Israel time Saturday

Great news! Pardon my sarcasm, but the Hamas terrorists have just announced yet another ceasefire to begin at midnight tonight (your humble servant forgets if this is the second or third one in the last 24 hours). By the way, there were more missile launches at the Eshkol region at 7:11–just over an hour ago.

UPDATE 11:05 am Israel time Saturday

7 launches of terrorist missiles from Gaza have taken place against the Chof Ashkelon region between 10:50 am and 11:00 am. At this moment another terrorist missile has been launched against Israelis in the Eshkol region.

UPDATE 8:30 am Israel time Saturday

The last hour and a half has seen a massive escalation in missile attacks from the Hamas terrorists in Gaza. At 7:56 am, the IAF struck 3 Hamas bases in Gaza following the overnight attacks described below. Two minutes later, 9 Qassam rockets were fired toward Sderot; another rocket hit a factory in the Sha’ar Hanagev area critically injuring a man inside.

UPDATE 7:00 am Israel time Saturday

The early morning and night has seen continued Palestinian terrorist missile fire against the men, women, and children of southern Israel with the Eshkol region being struck at 2:54 am and at 12:15 am this morning, and Ashkelon and Chof Ashkelon at 11:14 pm, Sderot at 11:09 pm, and the Eshkol region at 9:39 pm last night.

TODAY’S BLOG:

Enough of Grads, Qassams, and mortars for the moment. This morning your humble servant is going to take you on the morning walk that he and his wife take everyday and show you a little something of why we love Ashdod. What follows are the pictures your humble servant took this morning.

It’s 5:00 am and we leave our house walking north uphill to the highest point in the neighborhood.

The top of the neighborhood: Sargon's Ashdod Yam Observation Point overlooking the Mediterranean against invasions from the sea.

As the caption reads, this structure at the top of the hill (and now in the middle of a traffic roundabout!) dates from 712 BCE and was built by Sargon of Assyria. If you recall from history, the Assyrians began invading the land of Israel around 740 BCE eventually capturing the northern Kingdom and its capital Samaria in around 715 BCE. Then they moved south to capture the southern Kingdom of Judea–eventually laying unsuccessful siege to Jerusalem. Ashdod was their farthest foray south and Ashdod Yam was built as an observation point to protect Sargon’s main capture of Ashdod itself (about a mile inland).

A close up of the Assyrian Observation Point (712 BCE) in Ashdod Yam.

From the old to the new, as soon as we start down the hill toward Topaz Beach–the furthest beach south in Ashdod–we come to another roundabout (the largest in Ashdod) and are greeted with:

The satellite sculpture at Topaz Beach: in daytime it is yellow; at night it glows different colors from orange and green to blue and red. The Mediterranean Sea is in the background. Ashdod is awash in amazing sculpture.

And now we cross over Moshe Dayan Boulevard that ends in a circle around the satellite structure. Up and down both sides of Moshe Dayan is a promenade that parallels the Ashdod beaches for about 7 miles.

Part of the promenade near Topaz Beach. Hundreds of "exercise stops" punctuate the walkway (red) and bikeway (green) on either side. In the early morning and evening, thousands of Ashdodos (my name for Ashdod residents) walk and exercise up and down the promenade.

As we walk down the promenade toward the seashore this morning–what do we see but eyalim (deer), grazing in the dunes.

With apologies for the poor quality of the zoom lens on my Canon, one of the small deer can just barely be made out in the center of the photo.

On we go to the beach with a stop at the “Fort” or “Castle.” According to the Israel Antiquities Commission, the “Fort” dates from Byzantine Period at about 600 CE. It was later captured by Arabs and then by Crusaders in 1099 CE.

Two of the towers in the Fort--the Mediterranean can be seen in the background.

Another view of the large Fort/Castle from the inside. Note the well-defined rooms:

And onto the beach–looking south toward Ashkelon:

Note the fisherman foreground right already out at 5:20 am.

The warm blue waters of the Mediterranean:

Anyone for a morning swim?

As we head back up the hill to our house:

Seashells and flowers. The yellow flower is a "ha lemonit" (the lemon)--a common flower in the dunes.

And wild fig trees:

One of hundreds of wild fig trees in the dunes.

And grapevines:

Watch out for snakes! They love grapes too.

And again, the wonders of archaeology. All along the way there are literally tens of thousands of potsherds scattered in the dunes–most dating to the Philistine period about 3100 years ago:

Note the intricately designed pot part (from the upper part of the small pot near the opening) just above the animal burrow.

And on past the Crusader sarcophagi–up on top of the dune in front of our house:

The Crusaders buried here died sometime around the year 1150 CE. Note the orange markers of the Israel Antiquities Commission in the background.

And finally one last stroll to our house–and one of our friends digging for food in the grass (note his amazing beak):

Israel's national bird, the duchifat--this one inhabits one of the trees in our yard with his family.

And so ends our 45 minute walk this morning: a little history, a little sculpture, a little nature, a little water, and all of this in absolutely wondrous Ashdod!

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