Israel Journal: The whole country is not at war

Lisa Zehner

Police gathered at the Western Wall in large numbers expecting a demonstration on Friday.

JERUSALEM, Israel. – The most surprising news coming out of Israel was not numbers of casualties from airstrikes in Gaza, but the absence of expected demonstrations in the country’s capital on Friday.


Rumors circulated the city streets that a large demonstration against the Israeli airstrikes of Gaza was expected at the Old City’s Western Wall the day before the Jewish Sabbath.

Israeli soldiers patrol the Old City of Jerusalem Friday preparing for a demonstration that never took place.


Security was in high numbers in all of the city’s quarters in preparation to control any violence that might break out from demonstrators. Visitors to the country were told to avoid the area in case something should happen.


But nothing happened. Everyone in the Old City went on about their business and those gathered at the Western Wall celebrated and prepared for the Sabbath by dancing and singing in circles.


The mosques filled for evening prayer and police closed off the Muslim quarter. The city remained in peace all weekend with fighting just some miles south, while Tel Aviv did have some demonstration on Saturday evening that were mostly nonviolent.


However, for an American-journalist who had preconceived ideas of Israel’s past conflicts, one thing was clear: though the army is fighting in the south, the rest of the country seems relatively unscathed by the fighting, excluding high tensions and emotions among its supporting and opposing citizens.


Despite the close proximity of some of the cities such as Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, the fighting still seems distant. At the same time, the distance is about the same as Minneapolis to St. Cloud for example (give or take a few miles). I also had several friends e-mail me asking if I was safe and if I could hear the explosions they were seeing on T.V. For the most part, I have felt safe and couldn’t hear any explosions from the south. Ultimately, the whole country is not at war.