If you were to set out for a stroll around this small town (pop: approximately 6000), you’d likely never believe it to be part of the same country that is so frequently associated with headlines referring to political turmoil, rocket attacks and cross-border infiltrations.
In fact, one glance at the kids riding on bikes or playing in parks, the busy supermarket and shops, the gallery, community center, bulletin boards, and even the lone Fed Ex delivery truck making its rounds; a glance also at the blooming forests full of olive and palm trees, or the gardens spilling over with geraniums, birds of paradise, wildflowers and roses; another glance in the direction of the numerous mosaics decorating facades of homes, road signs and grade school; yet another glance at the breathtaking views overlooking pastoral landscapes, spacious orchards and villages perched on rolling hillsides; and finally, with eyes shut, a listen to the birdsong that can be heard quite easily all around this town, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this place for paradise.
And I could quite easily get used to this kind of life (for a spell anyway); far from the madding, partying, beach-swarming, bench-pressing, ice-cream gorging, shopping-minded, marathon-training, electric-scooter-riding, crazed-taxi-driving, high-flying, tech-prying eyes and crowds elsewhere in the country.
Crisp cloudless blue skies as far as the eye can see, an untouched cupola above our heads, this celestial stillness is only rarely disturbed by the trailing plume of airplane smoke.
But when, quite unexpectedly, a military jet races across the sky or a helicopter whirs above, or when a siren pierces the quiet normalcy of daily life, that’s all it takes to be jarringly reminded that this town – as the crow flies (or in local vernacular, according to airspace) – is situated a mere seven kilometers from an international border and no-man’s land, where battles have been waged, where threats have been made, and where everlasting peace is still a dream away.