Seperation barrier and threats to peace

One thing the critics of Israel like to point out is the concrete separation barrier in between the main part of Israel and the West Bank.

A tour leader I spoke to told us that the concrete wall only accounts for less than 5% of the fence in between.

Not so easy to see in this picture perhaps but there is just a chain link fence in between the Jewish orchards and Palestinian towns in the background, the silver things is some rows of fruit trees with plastic sheeting over them.

Here we are passing in a quite narrow strip of land in Israel parallel with Tel Aviv.

I have done some more experimenting with Google Maps.

Note – please press the [ – ] button to zoom out on each of these maps to get a better understanding of where you are looking at.

This line drawn across is only 8.8 miles this show how narrow this section of Israel would be in parallel to a possible Palestinian state, further down a bit is Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport, this especially needs to be carefully guarded with the flights arriving and departing each day.

This map here shows the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Beer Sheva, both of these cities have been hit in recent months by GRAD missiles, these have a radius of 25 miles /40 kilometres. The diagrams show these cities are just in proximity of attacks from Gaza, now I don’t know where these are launched from in the Gaza strip exactly, so this is approximate but you should be able to get the idea, these cities are just about reachable by GRADs, and there is fear that other weapons could reach further in.

For those of you who think the middle east crisis can be fixed with a two state solution, I would advise you to check out this site, it shows how Israel’s borders are defended, and how a new Palestinian state is impractical as well as wrong I believe from a Christian biblical point of view.

I personally want to see safety and security of all people here, but I think its important know exactly the threats and practicalities involved here.

Jerusalem bus stop two weeks on:

I rode along the north part of Jaffa Street up to the bus station and saw my friend Dave along the way, actually its very easy to accidentally see anyone you might know in this city.

I think when Jesus returns here, it won’t be too hard to find him, even without a cellphone. 🙂

I visited the place where the bomb happened a few weeks ago:

Everything seems strangely normal, the man is still running the kiosk selling cigarettes, newspapers and ice cream, people are waiting for the bus, and some chap was using the phone box as well.

In fact nothing really looked any different apart from two wreaths left for the Christian woman who died, one from Israel and one from the UK.

Today, I was working home towards the bus (it was raining and I don’t like to ride my bicycle in the wet)   a short distance from work I saw a large crowd of people and some Magon David paramedics dealing with someone on the floor, they were doing resuscitation on this woman, there was a drip rigged up, and I could see a set of electric pads as well.  I prayed for this woman here that she would live, and after a while I noticed she was coughing, although the ambulance staff were still having to push her chest hard, I didn’t stick around too much longer, but will check the local news tomorrow.

You can see how fragile life can be from things happening on your street in any place, I must stress that I do feel very safe here, there isn’t a problem with alcoholism I see in Portsmouth, and there are occasional terrorist threats in the UK like the ones that happened on 7/7 on the London tube network in 2005.  Police and military are often around here in Jerusalem so security issues are spotted in almost all cases very quickly.

Blogging with Google Maps

In the last few months, some of the more memorable places I have been to I have put on my Google Maps profile. I have added this on the “Blogs by location” link on the right hand side.

Please click the and + buttons to see a full view, there isn’t an easy way of adjusting the way the zoom before pasting it into my blog.

This is a great way for traveling bloggers to list your favourite places. I will consider writing a how to, if anyone else needs it.

Just one problem I have found, the new Firefox 4.0 seems to have a bug in which I can’t edit and place pins on my maps. Firefox 3.6.15, Chrome and IE8/9 don’t have this problem, and the Firefox 4 issue happens on two different PCs with Windows XP and 7.

Also you can’t create or edit a Google Maps profile under a business Gmail account, I guess Google understands the businesses don’t want their employees to carelessly list their locations of the buildings and staff live on the internet which is sensible.

Quick return to Akko…

On Wednesday after a tricky two days with me and my colleague having to work extra hard to fix IT equipment breaking down in several places, all the staff at Bridges for Peace got to get on a retreat away up north to a Kibbutz converted into a hotel for a relaxing mid week break.

On the way we got to stop off at Akko, an ancient city that I visited only a couple of months ago, there was no obvious toilet block in the main road next to the sea, so it was a case of take a frantic wander round the old walls of city for the loo.

I saw a few new interesting discoveries, last time the sea was fierce and was lashing onto the road.  The time the tide is out, and there is this wonderful mix of ancient ruins and green seaweed or moss out in the harbour.

This adventuorous chap is doing abseiling down the sea walls, and someone else is fishing on the ruins.   I hope they know the tide times!

This may be distressing to animal lovers, but not sure who leaves a box of very new looking tiny kittens on the side of a street?

I found an English speaking young Arab girl, who said they were there just waiting for their mother, but looks to me like they were left for someone to take maybe?  Anyway she put them somewhere a bit more sheltered away from the cold wind coming from the sea.

Next, I get to learn to be a shepherd and see biblical farming techniques!