Lately i have been taking early morning and late evening walks and runs in our brand new "midron park", usually topped of by a serious work-out in the open air free gym and a water drinking pause at the very end of the deck, above the huge evening waves crashing just below (and sometimes all over me, allowing for a salty cooling shower). During the cool eveing hours the northern, almost finished part of the park (which isn't open ye, but trust Jaffans to find a way in) many hang around, with fresh grapes, watermelon, drinks, surrounded by their kids running wild on the green grass ans sandy slopes. Thus, on my way back, there is always someone offering me a drink or sweet cool fruit.
Although not yet finished, the park is a true blessing, inspite of its sorry story, as it is also the grave of Palestinian Jaffa: When the Palestinian homes of Jaffa were demolished, their rubble was thrown on the Ajami beach, just south of the Jaffa harbour. Soon all kinds of junk followed the rubble. The underworld also quite loved the location for getting rid of suspicious "materials" of all kinds from cars used in robberies to body parts and drug stashes, weapons, explosives, you name it.
Thus, a huge rubble mountain was created, called "the garbage mountain". Only a very small part of the original beach was left; the "Jabaliyah beach, not known to most Tel Avivians.
The municipality intended to create an artifical piece of land and construct villas and other housing for the very well to do, in order to "uplift the level of the local population".
The Jaffa community, united for the first , them to court and won. The rest is history. A park was to be created, and a small part of the beach was restored as well.
And, the truth, the park is great. OK, there is a lot of water-using soft green grass (irrigated with de-salienated sea water, i have been told) but that makes for great picknicks and games. The open air gym is already popular, so for once, thanks, municipality, thanks mishlama. What started out as destruction , turned into some sort of a blessing.
But blessings is not what this story is all about.
The new homes of the ultra rich in Ajami, are being constructed by "illegal" workers, mostly from the territories. Low pay and horrid labor conditions are all part of the ugly game of labor relations in construction. Nothing new there. On large construction projects you'll mostly find Chinese and Romanian labor migrants. But when constructing oriental style villas, you need stone masons for the creation of arches and arabesques: Palestinians from the occupied territories. They work hard and receive low pay, the risk is mostly on them. The conditions in the occupied territories are so difficult, many of tem have no choice, but to come to Israel and work here in order to provide for their poor families.
Yesterday the border police carried out a manhunt for "illegal" construction workers. Some of them gt away, quickly running to wherever they could hide. In some cases, sympathetic locals, both Palestinians and Jews, helped to hide them, feeling uncomfortable and perhaps guilty with the man hunt going no in their now quite fancy neighborhood. after all, the police are not chasing criminals, but people whose only crime is wanting to provide for their families through hard physsical labour few Israelis are willing to do.
The hunt went on for many hours. Until sunset, or so we thought.
On may way back from my run, quite late, almost midnight, i saw them, again, border police and soldiers carefully going through the park. Searching.
When going out running i only carry water, no id. But they weren't looking for me and the likes of me. The man hunt was still on.