As Rockets Fly, Israel's Grumpy Old Men Shrug

Playing Backgammon and Watching the Missiles in Jaffa

No Big Deal: Not all Israelis are living in fear. Some shrug off the latest round of rockets as a price of life in the Middle East.
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No Big Deal: Not all Israelis are living in fear. Some shrug off the latest round of rockets as a price of life in the Middle East.

By Reuters

Published November 18, 2012.
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Emanuel Hatzofe, 84, took his time getting to the shelter of the thick concrete sea wall in Jaffa on Sunday when Israeli air-raid sirens over Tel Aviv warned of incoming rockets from the Gaza Strip.

The retired sea captain, once a guerrilla with the pre-state Jewish underground, carried his wooden stool with him, as well as a little cushion, for comfort.

The siren allows 90 seconds maximum to take shelter. It had gone silent by the time Emanuel, easing the bad knee where the bullet went through in 1948, got down in a corner of the wall, the Mediterranean Sea glinting lazily in the sunlight on the other side.

There was a double detonation in the sky somewhere over Jaffa, inland from the shore.

“That was two bangs,” he corroborated. Israel’s Iron Dome interceptor had knocked out two long-range rockets fired by Palestinian militants for the fourth time in four days.

He screwed up his eyes and looked up at a lingering twist of white smoke and vapour trailing in the sky above the old Arab town of quiet lanes and little stone mosques, now a Tel Aviv district. It was the only trace of the war to the south.

BACKGAMMON

“There will never be a solution to this,” Emanuel says.

Sitting outside his cramped workshop in an ancient wooden freight wagon from Belgian railways, he casts his mind back a long way.


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