When bombs receive applause

"We are here to see Israel destroy Hamas," says Eli Chone, a 22-year-old American living in Israel. The picture shows an orthodox jew gesturing as a bomb fired from Gaza lands near the Israeli town of Sderot. Gaza's firings of bombs against Israel has in recent days led to massive Israeli air strikes on the Hamas-controlled territory.  Foto:  Ronen Zvulu / Scanpix

On a hilltop a few kilometers from Gaza Israelis sit with popcorn to follow the bombing of the area

While most of the 25,000 inhabitants of the southern town of Sderot in the evening try to stay safe indoors from the rain of rockets from Gaza, you will meet a different image on a small hill on the outskirts of the city. This place changes the ghostly atmosphere into something resembling a party.

"We are here to see Israel destroy Hamas," says Eli Chone, a 22-year-old American living in Israel.

He is one of the more than 50 people gathered on the dark hill to see Israel bomb Gaza from close distance. The hill has been transformed into something that most closely resembles the front row of a reality war theatre. It offers a direct view of the densely populated Gaza Strip.

People have dragged camping chairs and sofas to the top of the hill. Several sit with crackling bags of popcorn, while others smoke hookahs and talk cheerfully. People come and go from the site in a steady stream.

"Look there," says Eli Chone, pointing at a dot in the sky.

"It is a fighter who is about to dive. This means that it is about to shoot. "

The talk on the hill falls silent for a moment. Suddenly the night sky lights into a powerful flash, while a high column of fire rises in Gaza. A few seconds later the earth is shaken by a dull roar.

Now cheers break out on the hill, followed by solid applause.

Israel has over the last few days bombed more than 800 targets in Gaza, and the message from the politicians is that the military operation can be further intensified in the coming days.

Shortly after the plane was seen over Gaza, Palestinian media reports that it is a car with journalists who are affected. The death toll for the last day of bombings is soaring.

Over 80 killed and 500 wounded, says reports so far. Among them, children and other civilians.

Concern over the impact of the Israeli missiles doesn´t characterize the atmosphere on the hill.

"Honestly. Look at the people around you. They live in this town and must daily deal with being shot at. There's nothing to say that they are happy that the military is now fighting back. We sit and look at Israel creating peace, "said Eli Chone

His buddy Aaron Dew breaks in:

"And it's also just good fun."

To him the war scene is not so much about the struggle for peace. He lives in Jerusalem nearly 100 miles away from the rockets in Sderot. This is the second day in a row that he takes the trip south to see the matches.

"It's great to be here. You can feel the thunder and see the rockets. It is a quest for excitement. Yesterday a rocket landed just below the hill," he says.

That war and entertainment go hand in hand is well-known through most of history. Even in The Middle Ages there were spectators of wars, says Tamar Hermann, Professor of Political Science, Tel Aviv University.

"It's not that it must be defended, but it reflects, however, a vision of war that has deep historical roots," says Hermann.

Meanwhile, the scene on the hill in Sderot also portrays a characteristic of Israeli society, she says:

"The Israeli public is generally characterized by a victim mentality, which tend to see the other party to the conflict as the absolute evil. Questions such as compassion and understanding for the Palestinians is mostly something you find in higher educated circles around Tel Aviv. It is more resourceful people but also people who do not know what it means to live under the constant bombardment in the south. "

Nikolaj Krak

Cand.comm. i journalistik fra Roskilde Universitet med sidefag i religionsvidenskab ved Københavns Universitet. Har tidligere arbejdet på DR Dokumentar og Dagbladet Politiken. Ansat på Kristeligt Dagblad siden august 2011. Fra juni 2014 mellemøstkorrespondent med base i Jerusalem.

 

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