For those who didn’t know, I’m mildly obsessed with borders.
Last week, during a trip to the North, I had the opportunity to observe the Israel-Lebanon border (Blue Line) from several new and interesting vantage points, at Hunin Castle, just south of the Lebanese border, and at Misgav Am, which is situated immediately east of the Blue Line.
Today, my wife and I took a short day trip to the south of the country, and I seized the opportunity to visit Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip one more time.
The following photos were taken from Kibuts Netiv HaAsara (the photos taken at sunset) and from Zikkim Beach, on the Gaza border. All are unedited and were taken by my wife.
Needless to say, visiting the border region with Gaza is highly inadvisable during times of hostilities and rocket fire emanating from the Strip. Thankfully today the area was quiet. Visiting the border gives me very mixed feelings. For one, I feel sad; or perhaps solemn is a better word. Undoubtedly, there are many innocent civilians effectively blockaded in Gaza: by Israel to the west, east, and north; and by Egypt to the south.
The details for fellow border fans:
The sunset photos were taken from two lookout points on Kibbuts Netiv HaAsara, which lies immediately north of the Gaza Strip and the Erez Crossing. The concrete wall that can be seen in the photos isn’t the actual border; it’s a fortification to protect the residents of the kibbuts.
As one would expect, this part of the kibbuts is tense: commanding army watchtowers protrude from strategically located positions on the concrete barrier. The border itself is located just a couple of hundred meters to the south of this fortification.
Kibbuts residents — all of whom were extremely friendly and reassured me that I wasn’t the first curious person to sightsee the border there — told me that during times of hostility, this area is closed off to civilians. A 20 year old resident of the kibbuts declined to be interviewed for my burgeoning YouTube channel, but described life on the kibbuts as follows: “it’s 97% heaven (during times of quiet) and 3% hell (during times of war).”
From Netiv HaAsara the high-rise buildings of Jabalia, north of Gaza City, are clearly visible, alongside the meandering minarets. Just beyond the wall, one can make out a checkpoint, probably operated by Hamas, on the Gazan side. The sunset over Gaza that we encountered, when we visited, was absolutely stunning. The photos as I’ve uploaded them below are completely unedited.
Another place to spot the border is at Zikkim Beach which is popular with surfers in the south of the country. In fact, the Gaza-Israel border intersects the beach. As one walks southwards from the beach bar, towards Gaza, a progressively more imposing series of fortifications is encountered, which culminates in a closed military area where the IDF maintains a base.
This is the area from which Avera Mengistu tragically crossed into the Strip. As of the time of this writing, he is still being held by Hamas, alongside Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin soldier who was serving in the IDF. Here, as in Netiv HaAsara and several other of the kibbutsim that dot the periphery of the Strip, the high rises of Gaza can be seen with the naked eye, although they look more impressive through the zoomed-in photographic lens used to take these photos.
Credit for all photos: Hannah Schneiderman.