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According to media reports, one million Israelis were exposed to mortar and rocket fire from Gaza* in late August 2011. Those in Beersheva had approximately 60 seconds** to drop everything and 'take cover' from the time a Code Red warning siren sounded and the minute a Palestinian rocket from Gaza sought to blow them sky-high. Forty-two year-old Galev Shklarnik –sky high in any event, had no alternative but to hold his breath and hope for the best.

Like a sitting duck in a shooting gallery, Shklarnik watched the spectacle perched on a 100 meter-high tower crane on a Beersheva construction site: 109 yards off the ground – more than the length of a football field, upended – the veteran Russian-born crane operator said with amazing pluck that it was "strange"*** to watch and wait for incoming GRAD rockets to fall out of the clear blue sky, but it would have taken him 25 minutes to climb down from his cab.

* following the August 18 Palestinian terrorist attack launched from Sinai on traffic along Route 12 to Eilat and Israel's response – a targeted strike against that took out the Popular Resistance Committee planners in Rafiah.

** for 'lead time" in other areas, see this map

*** Normally, crane operators must watch out for only four kinds of "proximity hazards": overhead power lines, telephone wires, public areas, and other cranes – not rockets.


Remember the June 2010 story "Show and Tel" about the kid who tripped over a rare Canaanite relic while on a school trip to a popular archeological site? Now it’s a 69 year-old grandfather and amateur archeologist’s turn:  Natan Ben-Yehuda tripped over another rare find walking his dog in a field in the Jezreel Valley while visiting his grandchildren in the upscale bedroom community Timrat.

The barely visible 1,700 year-old inscription on a slab of stone in a field bearing the word SHABBAT (שבת) in Hebrew script, dates back to the 6th Century.  The stone is a Sabbath boundary marker – the likes of which encircled some 200 Jewish communities in the Galilee in Roman times, circumscribing just how far one may walk on the day of rest – 1.5 km – without breaking the Sabbath. 

Why wasn’t it discovered earlier?  Apparently spotting it required perfect timing. Archeologists surmise that both the sun and the observer had to be at the right angle and distance from one another for a passerby to discern the writing…a lucky constellation that took 1,700 years to occur.  


In response to housing protests by young Tel Avivians, city hall is considering a change of heart – to relent and legalize cutting big apartments into several small rental flats*, provided  each mini apartment won't be smaller than 35 sq. meters (378 sq. feet). 

How much smaller?

Right now, the smallest apartment on record in the Big Orange is an 8- sq. meter (86 sq. foot) warren. The tiny abode whose shower telephone can reach the middle of the living room – is listed for sale at 290,000 NIS ($81,690). That's considered an affordable bargain at Tel-Aviv real estate prices.  The owner went down from 350,000 NIS ($144,450)...

* On the phenomenon of landlords carving up standard three-room flats into tiny efficiencies, see Chelm's March 2010 item The Big Bang).

** 86 square feet


Kfar Saba has established bookmobiles that operate in reverse: lending libraries at the city's bus stops where passengers can borrow books, on the run.

Two Technion grads in architecture – urban artisans Daniel Shusan and Irit Matalon dreamed up the concept, designed to make public transportation more attractive by cutting the boredom of waiting for buses and being stuck in traffic.

Kfar Saba librarians drop off the books in the morning along the main drag, and collect them from the shelves in the evening. The experimental library  works on an honor system; readers unable to finish their book while on board* are at liberty to take a book home, finish it, and return the book to any bus shelter boasting a municipal library shelf. 

* a commute back and forth from the suburb's central bus station to Tel Aviv can take an hour and a half...


A senior citizen lucked out after she jokingly told her husband he didn’t know how to pick a winner in the national lotteries, the Mifal Hapiyas.  Filling in the blanks for the first time in her life, the perky matron racked in 36 million NIS ($10 million) in prize money.          

What did the lucky couple plan to do with their windfall? 

Help their children and grandchildren buy apartments, they said.

With 27 million NIS in the bank after taxes, their winnings will just suffice to help their 7 children and 18 grandchildren buy modest apartments at current inflated real estate prices running a million NIS a pop.  


Statistics show five MKs in 2010 and six MKs in 2011 – ranging from ultra-orthodox Moshe Gafni (the United Torah Judaism party) to ultra-secular Shelly Yacimovich (the Labor party) – are responsible for half the private laws passed by the Knesset. All told, 3,103 private bills were submitted to the Knesset in 2010, and 3,500 in 2011*, compared to 47 in 1948, but 80 percent never make the cut.

One dud sought to regulate the price of popcorn in movie theatres, another to ban free newspapers.  

* January-August 2011, and the year's not yet over.