Yair Peled was the commander of a paratrooper patrol in the fifties of the last century. During his vacations, he used to go on single-handed navigations throughout the young country that had not long since arisen. Two young people, Adam and Eretz, imbued with a sense of security – a kind of inner strength that leads them without anxiety in a world saturated with violence. When he reached Hamad’s corner in Nahal Sarpad in the Negev Mountains, he sat down to rest under an acacia tree in front of the desert. When we got to this point I understood why he chose to sit there. A small river channel joined the large wadi here, and ancient people built terraces in it, stone dams that slowed down the flow of flood water, stopped the good alluvial soil, and the water seeped in and saturated it. His eyes must have been satisfied with the sights of the terraces in every stream and in every gorge in the Negev Mountains, the multitude of remains of buildings, the ancient farms, the guard fortresses, the rock paintings that testified to bustling trade caravans. His heart must have been wide when he thought how he and his friends could restore the crown of the place to its former glory and blossom the wilderness, as our ancestors did thousands of years ago. Two Bedouins from the Serhin al-Azazama tribe interrupted his dreams and killed him there. We sat, Mariana and I, under the acacia tree. We spread a cloth over the green grass that grew in the gorge in the heart of the gray brown desert around us. We sat down to eat our hearts out and drink a cup of tea, a few meters from the wave of stones and the iron sign indicating the place of Yair’s murder.
Just before we continued to drive on, I approached to take a picture of the sign. To my dismay, I read that the day of Yair’s death was the seventh of September 1959. This is also my birthday, and I was two years old then. They must have put a bouquet of flowers on my head and sang me birthday songs. I remembered the trek I did after the army in the Alps in Austria. I then came to a narrow path above a steep chasm, and on the rock was engraved the name of a hiker who fell into the chasm. The date of its fall was also my birthday then. I traveled alone then, as in many of my life’s journeys, just me and the mountain, the steep path, and the tombstone carved in nature. I’m usually a rational person, but in that case I got a knee peck and my grandmother was on my heels.
Now, I carried out a short healing ceremony that I adapted to myself in days of weakness, which I do not believe in at all. “Tap tap tap” I hissed between my teeth, hoping Mariana wouldn’t hear me. “Virgo luck”, and I turned around to deceive the evil eye.
The members of the tribe from which Yair Peled’s killers came were deported to Sinai following the murder. In the 1950s the young country tried to get rid of the Bedouin, exiled the Sayyid across the Arabah to Jordan, and the Jahalin to Judea whom we received back after the Six Day War.
Dialogue in the dark
We continued our way with the jeep south. We drove through a crazy landscape of three conical mountains that accompanied Nahal Sarpad. Rows of stones leveled agricultural plots and testified to human presence in historical density. Plenty of reservoirs were dug in the limestone rocks and dug canals fed them with water. The hour is getting late, the sun is setting, and the way back through a wooded stream strewn with protruding rocks and channels that cut through it and slowed down the journey. When we reached Nahal Nitsana, darkness fell. In the distance, the lights of Azuz were already visible like a lighthouse in the sea. A few more kilometers and we will reach the trailer and sip thick and hot lentil soup.
Suddenly something shiny explodes in front of the jeep, followed by a bunch of gunshots and breaking glass. Mariana screams. Who the hell is shooting here, are they soldiers or terrorists, maybe smugglers. Here they are or for us. There is no time to ask, the instincts are working now. I press the gas and run away on the road marked in red and white. I have already driven it dozens of times and I know that we are not far from the road. It can’t be that these were soldiers, they wouldn’t have dared to shoot just like that with such carelessness without realizing who was driving the car. Mariana suggests that we stop, “These must be soldiers,” she says. I keep pressing the pedal, and feel that at least one tire has blown. On the other hand, I still feel in danger of death and continue to run away from the place. Far in front I see the lights of cars driving in front of me and I relax, stop and wave my hands. Military jeeps pull up next to me. “The shots fired at us are your guys”? I ask and they nod. It doesn’t comfort me to hear that we could have died from bullets from our powers. Mariana looks tough, survives the situation, we’ll probably break up later. “How dare you shoot without verifying who is driving the car,” I ask angrily or helplessly, or both. “You got out by a miracle” the soldiers answer me, “you drove through a fire area, if you had fallen into a fire funnel you would have been completely pierced”. It doesn’t calm me down or make me grateful. What is the unbearable lightness of pulling the trigger. What would they tell themselves if they killed us. Now they offer to help us and I leave to examine the damage. I stepped on spikes laid out in ambush, one tire sitting naked on the rim torn to shreds after the mad escape. A second front wheel has also slowly collapsed and is now smeared on the dirt road, a shattered rear window. How will we get out of here with two nominal tires. The soldiers help me change one wheel and bring a small compressor to compress some air in the other wheel. That’s enough for me to limp the Jeep back to the trailer with a bang.
There in the trailer, with delicious soup and a hot shower, I allow myself to unwind a little. Sitting outside wrapped in a coat, just breathing a sigh of relief that we’re fine. Gali and Ofer Mahan in Arothim offer me help. How nice of them. I met Gali for a chat and a cup of coffee once. This is the first time I speak with Ofer on the phone. Tomorrow morning I will get a spare tire for the car from them so I can go to Be’er Sheva, buy new tires and fix the window. I tell Ofer about the event and feel that I am shedding tension and doubts. “You must have entered a place you shouldn’t be,” Ofer says. “It’s still no reason to throw a grenade and shoot at a car without verifying who’s there,” I say.
I fell asleep but at two in the morning I woke up, or at three, and since then I have been writing, not missing a minute, writing down the thoughts that pass through my head, releasing the tension that has built up, understanding the difficulty that has built up inside me. I’ve been living in a trailer for two and a half years and wander restlessly, live a fairly free life, and don’t want to start being afraid of my own shadow, and I don’t deserve to die of stupidity.
What were the soldiers thinking who sat in ambush and shot at my car, without verifying who was sitting there. And if it was a Bedouin returning from the camels, then is it allowed to shoot without asking questions? I would almost say Kfar Qasim, but I’m short, who am I really? All in all, another tiny citizen and a careless citizen, who accidentally entered the area of fire, and in the end nothing happened to them except for two flat tires and a broken window, and a small trauma and a visit or two to a psychologist for a thousand shekels to put the soul through another little teacher on the disrupted path of life, And maybe a creative sequence of two hours in the dead of night that made me tick this far will be enough for me.
Ronan Raz – Agronomist by profession and traveler by heart, one of the founders of field trips in Israel, lived and traveled for seven years in Asia, Africa and America, raised crocodiles in Venezuela and fought for the elephants in Kenya. Route builder and tour guide for 25 years, owner and manager of a company Eco field trips.
All blog chapters have an introduction to wanderings
Source: כתבות – מסע אחר by www.masa.co.il.
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