Friday, March 28, 2014

Riding missiles on the Rabin Square

In the 1980s the municipality of Tel Aviv used to invite the IDF Armoured Corps to bring into town dozens of tanks every year, put them in the big square opposite the town hall. The public used to come in great numbers to  The Square of the Kings of Israel. Children especially enjoyed climbing on the tanks and hanging from the cannons. Some of them even succeeded to be photographed with their finger on the trigger of a machine gun. 

Years have passed and the annual tank exhibition got out of fashion. Indeed, the armoured corps as such fell out of favour when already for decades the IDF did not any more fight against another regular army. Also the 18-year olds who volunteer for the armour discovered that most of the time the army is taking them out of the tanks and sends them on foot to maintain checkpoints on the roads of the West Bank, and shoot tear-gas at young stone throwers. Meanwhile, the square in the heart of Tel-Aviv became identified mainly with mass peace demonstrations, and with the great hope which flared up for a moment at the Oslo Agreements. Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated at this square behind the town hall, the square since that day bearing his name.

And again, years have past with continuing occupation and extending settlements and  Palestinian resistance continuing as well. And the hope died down, with only some glowing ambers  left here and there, and a rather stubborn American Secretary of State.     
On the occasion of The Israeli Science Day, the military exhibition for the pleasure of the city's children  returned this week to the square in the heart of Tel Aviv. 

Not tanks this time. This year was brought to the square and presented proudly, the Iron Dome missile system which is intended to intercept short-range missiles. And at the firm demand of the competing producer of the Arrow Missiles, also its anti-missile missiles are part of the exhibition. The development of the middle range missile against missile, called Magic Wand, is not yet completed and it will have to wait for next year. Foreign sources have already for years told that Israel possesses its own offensive missiles, named 'Jericho', which can carry nuclear warheads to any point in the middle East and quite a bit beyond. However, Israel never admitted their existence, and certainly they are not included in the exhibition.

It is difficult for children to climb on vertically exposed missiles, but at least there was made available a photo opportunity where they could get photographed as if riding a missile high in the sky.