Morning After on Beach in Ashdod: Enjoying the Quiet While It Lasts

In Ashdod, residents went to bed with missiles and woke up to go the the beach

Israelis on the beach in Ashdod, May 6, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

After the cease-fire that wasn’t officially announced, Ashdod on Monday morning looked totally different from the Ashdod of Sunday night. The destruction, broken glass and fragments of shutters on the street were replaced by little girls playing in the fountain near the beach. But under the calm and summery weather, city residents were certain the return of the violence was only a matter of time.

Keren, a resident who had come to the fountain with eight of her 10 children, said they were called to send the children back to school at 9 A.M. “But it didn’t feel right,” she said. “After suffocating in the house, we’re here at the beach. Routine can wait.”

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Life over past few months, and certainly the past few days, was far from easy, she said. “It’s fear, crying and anxiety,” she said. “Even the adults feel it. From a political perspective I have no idea. It’s like a Band-Aid that’s calming the situation. Maybe it’s good for us this way. Until next time.”

Herzl Rahamim, manager of the lifeguard station at Mei Ami beach and a city resident for 62 years, was celebrating the opening of the swimming season. “The Hamasniks are manipulating us,” he said, predicting that the next round of fighting would come next month. “I hope that there will be Operation Protective Edge 2, and the land will stay quiet for 40 years.” Of Protective Edge 1, which obtained relative quiet for less than four years, he said, “There wasn’t enough deterrence.”

Alexander Birokoff immigrated to Israel from Ukraine last August with his wife and children. On Monday he was on the beach, with his iPad and a cup of coffee. In the few words he could muster in Hebrew he described how in his homeland there had also been war; the booms in Israel aren’t as bad, he said, as he displayed a picture of his family in their home’s secure room.

Eden and Talya, both 16, said they had gotten a legal exemption from attending school, which they translated into a morning of sunbathing. “There’s the feeling that something happened, that it hasn’t totally passed,” said Talya. “We’re going according to their game, not ours.” Eden said she had the feeling that “something will come back.”

Herzl Rahamim, manager of the lifeguard station at Mei Ami beach in Ashdod, May 6, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

After dropping her children at preschool at 9:30 – the assistants had come late – Michal Liapis, a local dentist, and her husband Michael, came to the shore. She had to be at work at 2 P.M. and they were taking advantage of the few hours of quiet to just watch the waves together. “We went to sleep with missiles and sirens, and we got up to total routine,” Michael said. “It’s extreme. But the truth is that there was a feeling they’d wrap this up before Independence Day. We’re optimistic, until the next round.”

Chen, a resident of Moshav Hatzav in the Be’er Tuvia Regional Council, which didn’t hear any sirens this time, was enjoying the quiet that had prevailed since the morning but didn’t think it would last long. “The price we will pay for this quiet could be very high,” she said. “Chances are it’s going to return in another month or two. We will have to deliver a blow but I have doubts about how much Bibi can create a deterrent. Something has to be done.”