Sunday, July 29, 2018

New Explosive Drone Threat From Gaza

On May 13, 2018, around 9pm, an explosion was heard in one of the communities on the Gaza border. Residents who came out of their homes found on their front lawn two explosive devices attached to something that appeared to be a small parachute, white and square. One of the devices exploded, but didn't cause any damage. 

Security forces that arrived at the town gathered the findings, but couldn't explain at the time how and where did they come from.

Several days later a similar device was once again discovered on the outskirts of that town, which is located across the border from Gaza City. This time, security forces could point to a connection between the explosive devices and a drone coming from the strip.

After the third time that month that a drone infiltrated this town, it likely did not make its way back, and went down on the way. The IDF didn't report to the public about this incident, and to this day it only has vague comments to offer on it, despite the fact the findings collected from the front lawn that first time were presented to some of the town's residents.

The IDF doesn't know how many explosive-carrying drones were sent over the last year from the Gaza Strip, how many of them made it back in one piece, and whether this is the harbinger of what's to come in the next round of fighting—waves of explosive drones. But the working assumption in the Southern Command is that Hamas does have the capability to operate dangerous drones.

Two months ago, walls were fortified at barracks housing soldiers who operate the Iron Dome batteries scattered across the south. The only possible explanation for these fortifications in the form of concrete walls, which separate the batteries and the barracks, is the concern that someone is planning to target the launching systems, which are armed with missiles. Such an explosion can cause many casualties among the soldiers who reside nearby.

An accurate hit on an Iron Dome battery is one of Hamas's clear objectives, as this isn't merely another prestigious target, but a symbol—much like infiltration into an Israeli community, kidnapping a soldier or sabotaging the obstacle Israel is building on the border. And the simplest way to get to the Iron Dome batteries is by launching a drone that could drop an explosive on them, or blow up itself.

The drones launched toward that community in May were likely the "pilot" for an operational plan. To Hamas, the explosive-carrying drones and the "suicide" drones' main job is to cause mass casualties or to accurately hit military targets. If Israel causes mass casualties in the strip, Hamas in response will launch the explosive drones towards Israeli communities on the Gaza border. It could hit a basketball court in the middle of a game, or a beach on a hot summer day. In the Zikim area, for example, several drones from Gaza were found this year. Another possible scenario is for such a drone to fly over an Israeli sniper position and drop a small explosive, like a grenade, in response to sniper fire on Palestinian rioters.

According to data from the Overland Crossings Authority at the Defense Ministry, in 2016, 110 complete drones and 51 drone parts were seized at both crossings. In 2017, 70 complete drones and 301 drone parts were seized. And in 2018 so far, 60 complete drones and 400 drone parts have been seized. Most of the equipment was purchased online from companies like AliExpress.

The question is how many drones weren't captured and were able to get into the strip. The search for the drones is complicated due to their relatively small size. Normally they are concealed—in parts or whole—inside the mass amounts of toys going into Gaza, and at times inside the luggage of a person coming into the strip. In addition, the route to transport goods from Egypt into Gaza—through the Salah al-Din crossing near the Rafah crossing—is not under Israeli monitoring, and it has no information on what comes through it.

The data show that Hamas, unlike the IDF, considers the smuggling of drones a main effort, just like the effort to bring in drone parts to the strip. The drone parts get to the organization's workshops, where professionals put them together and adjust them for military activity. Inside those workshops, even bigger drones can be built, which could carry four kilograms and more.

By the way, Hamas engineer Fadi Albatsh, who was assassinated in April 2018 in Malaysia, was also working on developing unmanned aircraft. One of his fields of expertise was encrypted communications between the operator and the drone.

The ‘Games’ Palestinian Children Play

...whether Gaza is run by Hamas or the PA, Israel will continue to be saddled with neighbors who raise their kids to be murderers and arsonists.

Stephen M. Flatow. 27 July '18..

We’re always being told that there is a significant difference between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Supposedly, the P.A. is “moderate,” while Hamas is “extremist.” But the PA.’s public endorsement this week of the Gaza kite terrorists makes it clear that there is no meaningful difference between it and Hamas at all.

Here is the text of the statement by Palestinian Authority Government Spokesman Yusuf Al-Mahmoud, as published in the official P.A. daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on July 22 and made available by the invaluable Palestinian Media Watch:

“The occupation’s escalation, to which the Gaza Strip—which is under siege—has been witness in recent hours, constitutes part of the occupation government’s policy towards our residents and the heroic members of our people. … The occupation is striving to create equivalence in which there is a parallel between the newest and most lethal fighter jets and a children’s game such as kites used by peaceful protesters as one of the means of protest against the siege and the occupation.”

Let’s take a careful look at the P.A. spokesman’s words, starting with the way he refers to Israel. Notice that he doesn’t say the word “Israel” at all. The Jewish state is “the occupation” or “the occupation government.” Al-Mahmoud is so consumed with hatred of Israel that he can’t even bring himself to utter its name.

Some 25 years after the Oslo accords—25 years after the Palestinian pledged to live in peace and coexistence with Israel—25 years after the media and peace activists insisted that the Palestinians had really changed—they still can’t even say the word “Israel.”

Read more on this subject here

Friday, July 27, 2018

And They Still Continue to Come to Israel

A surprise welcome to Birthright Israel participants
at Ben Gurion Airport

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Myths of the Middle East - Part 1

( This article has been cross posted from the blog Grandma's Army)

The destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E., was the most traumatic and transformative event for the Jewish people to have ever taken place.  According to rabbinic tradition, the Second Temple in 70 C.E. was destroyed by the Romans on the very same day, and this time the Jewish people were exiled from their homeland of Israel. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine. The name was derived from the Philistines, a people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add insult to injury.

Another long list of traumatic events suffered by the Jews are believed to have occurred around the same day, quite a few of which have been  historically proved. Since then, from that day to the present time, Jews all over the world have fasted in order to commemorate specific events related to the Destruction. Today, we are almost at the end of the three weeks of mourning preceding the fast known as Tisha b’Av (ninth of the month of Av).

In order to commemorate these tragic events Jews gather on Tisha b”Av every year in their synagogue.  There they fast, pray, and read the sad and depressing prophetic writings concerning the destruction of their Temple and land.  
An anecdote is told of the great French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte.  He once was traveling through a small Jewish town in Europe, where he entered a synagogue. There he saw an incredible sight.  Men and women sitting on the floor and weeping, while holding candles and reading from books.  It was a dark and gloomy sight to behold.
Napoleon asked why the people were weeping and wanted to know what misfortune had happened here, and why he had not heard about it.  An enlightened Jewish French officer told him that nothing new and terrible had happened.   The Jewish people had a custom to gather once a year on a day called the ninth day of Av, the day that marks the destruction of the Jewish people's Temple.   After their second Temple was destroyed the people were scattered all over the world and sold as slaves. Some escaped and built their homes the world over.  Somehow the Jewish people exist without their country and their Temple. 
Napoleon inquired as to how many years they have been doing this and when he was answered, for more than 1,700 years, he exclaimed,  "Certainly a people which has mourned the loss of their Temple for so long will survive to see it rebuilt!"
When the Jews recaptured East Jerusalem during the 1967 war, a war of aggression by the Arabs against the Jews – Israel begged Jordan not to join in, promising that Israel wouldn’t attack Jordan. The Jordanians ignored the Israeli pleas and wound up losing East Jerusalem to the Jews, who then reunited their ancient capital and gained access to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall of the old Temple. They incredibly allowed the Muslim Waqf to retain religious control of the Temple Mount. This magnanimity – another example of the Jewish cultural inclination to compromise rather than to fight - allowed the Muslims to retain a foothold in the old city of Jerusalem and, over the years, to enhance and expand their efforts, both at control and at refusing Jews access to the Temple Mount, the holiest place in the world for Jews.

What this fast itself also tells the world is that the Jews were in Jerusalem before the Babylonians, before the Romans, before the Christians and, most certainly, before the Muslims. When the Jews didn’t have it, it was an Arab backwater, unremarked upon in Arab literature or theology and largely ignored. What so many in the west don’t grasp is that the Jews alone are the indigenous people of the land, and that Judaism is based on an actual nation which practiced its religion in the historic kingdom of Judea.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Brainwashed "Intellectual" Fascists

A letter written below by a non - Jewish Scottish professor to his students who voted to boycott Israel. 

It's a response from Dr. Denis MacEoin, a non-Jewish professor, to the motion put forward by The Edinburgh Student's Association to boycott all things Israeli, in which they claim Israel is under an apartheid regime.  Denis is an expert in Middle Eastern affairs and was a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.  Here's his letter to the students:

TO: The Committee Edinburgh University Student Association.

May I be permitted to say a few words to members of the EUSA?  I am an Edinburgh graduate (MA 1975) who studied Persian, Arabic and Islamic History in Buccleuch Place under William Montgomery Watt and Laurence Elwell Sutton, two of Britain 's great Middle East experts in their day.  I later went on to do a PhD at Cambridge and to teach Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University .  Naturally, I am the author of several books and hundreds of articles in this field.  I say all that to show that I am well informed in Middle Eastern affairs and that, for that reason, I am shocked and disheartened by the EUSA motion and vote.

I am shocked for a simple reason: there is not and has never been a system of apartheid in Israel .  That is not my opinion, that is fact that can be tested against reality by any Edinburgh student, should he or she choose to visit Israel to see for themselves.  Let me spell this out, since I have the impression that those members of EUSA who voted for this motion are absolutely clueless in matters concerning Israel, and that they are, in all likelihood, the victims of extremely biased propaganda coming from the anti-Israel lobby.

Being anti-Israel is not in itself objectionable.  But I'm not talking about ordinary criticism of Israel.  I'm speaking of a hatred that permits itself no boundaries in the lies and myths it pours out.  Thus, Israel is repeatedly referred to as a "Nazi" state.  In what sense is this true, even as a metaphor?  Where are the Israeli concentration camps?  The einzatsgruppen?  The SS?  The Nuremberg Laws?  The Final Solution?  None of these things nor anything remotely resembling them exists in Israel, precisely because the Jews, more than anyone on earth, understand what Nazism stood for.

It is claimed that there has been an Israeli Holocaust in Gaza (or elsewhere).  Where?  When?  No honest historian would treat that claim with anything but the contempt it deserves.  But calling Jews Nazis and saying they have committed a Holocaust is as basic a way to subvert historical fact as anything I can think of.

Likewise apartheid.  For apartheid to exist, there would have to be a situation that closely resembled how things were in South Africa under the apartheid regime.  Unfortunately for those who believe this, a weekend in any part of Israel would be enough to show how ridiculous the claim is.

That a body of university students actually fell for this and voted on it is a sad comment on the state of modern education.  The most obvious focus for apartheid would be the country's 20% Arab population.  Under Israeli law, Arab Israelis have exactly the same rights as Jews or anyone else; Muslims have the same rights as Jews or Christians; Baha'is, severely persecuted in Iran, flourish in Israel, where they have their world center; Ahmadi Muslims, severely persecuted in Pakistan and elsewhere, are kept safe by Israel; the holy places of all religions are protected under a specific Israeli law.  Arabs form 20% of the university population (an exact echo of their percentage in the general population).

In Iran, the Bahai's (the largest religious minority) are forbidden to study in any university or to run their own universities: why aren't your members boycotting Iran?  Arabs in Israel can go anywhere they want, unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa.  They use public transport, they eat in restaurants, they go to swimming pools, they use libraries, they go to cinemas alongside Jews - something no blacks were able to do inSouth Africa.

Israeli hospitals not only treat Jews and Arabs, they also treat Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank.  On the same wards, in the same operating theatres.

In Israel , women have the same rights as men: there is no gender apartheid.  Gay men and women face no restrictions, and Palestinian gays often escape into Israel, knowing they may be killed at home.

It seems bizarre to me that LGBT groups call for a boycott of Israel and say nothing about countries like Iran, where gay men are hanged or stoned to death.  That illustrates a mindset that beggars belief.

Intelligent students thinking it's better to be silent about regimes that kill gay people, but good to condemn the only country in the Middle East that rescues and protects gay people.  Is that supposed to be a sick joke?

University is supposed to be about learning to use your brain, to think rationally, to examine evidence, to reach conclusions based on solid evidence, to compare sources, to weigh up one view against one or more others.  If the best Edinburgh can now produce are students who have no idea how to do any of these things, then the future is bleak.

I do not object to well-documented criticism of Israel.  I do object when supposedly intelligent people single the Jewish state out above states that are horrific in their treatment of their populations.  We are going through the biggest upheaval in the Middle East since the 7th and 8th centuries, and it's clear that Arabs and Iranians are rebelling against terrifying regimes that fight back by killing their own citizens.

Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, do not rebel (though they are free to protest).  Yet Edinburgh students mount no demonstrations and call for no boycotts against Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran.  They prefer to make false accusations against one of the world's freest countries, the only country in the Middle East that has taken in Darfur refugees, the only country in the Middle East that gives refuge to gay men and women, the only country in the Middle East that protects the Bahai's...  Need I go on?

The imbalance is perceptible, and it sheds no credit on anyone who voted for this boycott.  I ask you to show some common sense.  Get information from the Israeli embassy.  Ask for some speakers.  Listen to more than one side.  Do not make your minds up until you have given a fair hearing to both parties.  You have a duty to your students, and that is to protect them from one-sided argument.

They are not at university to be propagandized.  And they are certainly not there to be tricked into anti-Semitism by punishing one country among all the countries of the world, which happens to be the only Jewish state.  If there had been a single Jewish state in the 1930's (which, sadly, there was not), don't you think Adolf Hitler would have decided to boycott it?

Your generation has a duty to ensure that the perennial racism of anti-Semitism never sets down roots among you.  Today, however, there are clear signs that it has done so and is putting down more.  You have a chance to avert a very great evil, simply by using reason and a sense of fair play.  Please tell me that this makes sense.  I have given you some of the evidence.  It's up to you to find out more.

Yours sincerely,
Denis MacEoin

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Journalists Take Note

No, this round of fighting in Gaza did not start with the IDF bombing Hamas targets. Get your headlines correct according to the sequence of events !!!
The sequence of events for journalists:
­čö║ Hamas snipers opened fire at #IDF on the border with Gaza, killing a soldier ­čö║Israeli forces retaliated against Hamas targets. ­čö║Israelis instructed to remain near shelters due to potential attacks. ­čö║Gaza terrorists launch rockets

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Israeli 7 Year Old Becomes Chess Champion

In an international competition, an Israeli 7 year old beat all competitors in her age group

Monday, July 9, 2018

Israelis Speak About Living with Hamas Terror

Hear the stories of Israelis who survive the ongoing threat of Hamas terror. 

Rockets, mortar shells, infiltration attempts, fire kites and balloons – this is reality for Israelis who live near the Gaza border in the shadow of Hamas’ terrorism.

Living in a constant state of war, with up to five seconds to find shelter before a mortar launched by Hamas explodes near them, these Israelis face the constant menace of  Palestinian terrorists based just a few miles away.

While these attacks mostly fail to cause bodily harm, the emotional scars they 
leave are indelible.

Ensure that the entire world hears their stories!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Arab officials: US peace plan to focus on Gaza ‎first, circumvent PA ‎

Initiative seeks to alleviate the crisis in Gaza while allowing Arab world to adjust to the fact that a comprehensive peace plan may exclude the Palestinian Authority • PA President Abbas "has to wake up before it is too late," Ramallah official says.

Arab officials confirmed to Israel Hayom over the weekend that the regional peace plan being devised by the United States will focus on resolving the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip prior to dealing with the other cardinal issues involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has billed the plan as the "deal of the century," is determined to push it through with the help of the moderate Arab state ‎‎– Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – even if it means going over Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' head, the officials said.

Abbas declared that he would not engage with the U.S. on peace talks after Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December and subsequently relocated the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Palestinian leader maintains that these moves clearly demonstrate Trump's pro-Israel bias and therefore the U.S. cannot act as an impartial peace broker between Israel and the Palestinians.

The officials noted that the American plan to solve the crisis in Gaza was also the reason why, despite the growing tensions on the Israel-Gaza border, both Israel and Hamas are trying to avoid escalation.
Senior Arab diplomats familiar with the plan as well as top Ramallah officials, said that Cairo, Amman, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have repeatedly urged Abbas to meet with U.S. officials and discuss the plan but to no avail.

Given Abbas' prolonged rejectionism, moderate Arab leaders see no other choice but to go over his head and have decided to back Washington's plan to present the peace plan to the Palestinian people directly, the diplomats said.

A high-ranking Jordanian diplomat told Israel Hayom that during senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt's recent visit to the region, they explained the tenets of the plan, which focused on "neutralizing the Gaza issue."
Hamas ousted Abbas' Fatah movement from the Gaza Strip in a military coup in 2007, essentially splitting the Palestinian Authority in two. The Western-backed Abbas and Gaza's rulers have signed several reconciliation deals over the past decade, most recently in 2017, but all have collapsed before the ink was even dry, mostly over Hamas' adamant refusal to disarm.

The 2007 coup prompted Israel and Egypt to place a blockade on Gaza, so as to thwart Hamas' efforts to smuggle terrorists and weapons into the enclave. But a decade of Hamas rule has brought Gaza to the brink of disaster, and the ongoing rift between the rival Palestinian factions has also been clouding domestic and foreign policies in moderate Arab states, whose leaders are now pushing for a solution that would alleviate Gazans' distress.

According to Arab diplomats familiar with the details of the plan, the American scheme includes a long-term cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Gaza-based terrorist groups, which would be mediated by the moderate Arab states.

Once the cease-fire agreement takes effect and proves lasting, a series of economic programs will be implemented to improve the situation in Gaza, where unemployment nears 50%. These projects, as well as a series of infrastructural rehabilitation plans – including the construction of a special Palestinian port in Cyprus – will be sponsored by the international community.

"A regional peace plan would be viable only if it includes the changing reality in the Gaza Strip," a senior Jordanian official told Israel Hayom.

"The blockade on Gaza cannot continue. The Strip is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster and if that happens, both Israel and the moderate Arab states would be made to pay a price, and especially the Palestinian leadership.

"Unfortunately, by refusing any diplomatic move mediated by the U.S. and declaring he will boycott the Americans' efforts, Abu Mazen [Abbas] is excluding himself from the negotiations over the arrangements in Gaza," he said.

A senior Egyptian official also confirmed that resolving the Gaza crisis would be the first step in the U.S. peace plan.

"Trump and his people have proven that they can think outside the box and suggest creative solutions. … Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority have not ruled Gaza for over a decade and the bottom line is that any deal involving Gaza will ultimately be in the hands of those controlling it on the ground, meaning Hamas," he said, stressing that Cairo would back the U.S. plan even if it meant sidelining Abbas.

Other Arab officials said that the idea behind the "Gaza first" initiative seeks to both alleviate the crisis in the enclave while allowing the Arab world to adjust to the idea that a more comprehensive peace plan would exclude the current leadership in Ramallah.

"This will ease the blockade and allow for the implementation of dozens of projects that have already been approved and funded," one official said.

A senior Palestinian official told Israel Hayom that "there is great concern in the rais' [Abbas'] office over Trump's move. Obviously, neither Trump nor anyone else can make Hamas and the other groups in Gaza disarm, but unless Abu Mazen rethinks his steps he may find himself as irrelevant as [Yasser] Arafat was at the end of his days.

"Trump pursues unconventional diplomacy – something that North Korea and Iran have come to realize – and it seems that the Arab states and the Europeans have come to accept it," he continued. "Only Abbas remains obstinate and the Palestinian people will end up paying the price.

"This is not the leadership Abu Mazen had envisioned and it is definitely not the legacy he wants to leave behind. He has to wake up and come to grips with the plan Trump and the Arab states are promoting, before it is too late," he warned.

The Battle Against Ignorance

‘Our greatest struggle is to combat ignorance,” said the deputy head of the Yesha Council, (Council of Judea and Samaria) recently To illustrate this problem he gave examples of tours on which he has taken other journalists. When he took the senior editor of an important Israeli media outlet to the city of Ariel, the editor expected to find everyone living in caravans, because that was his concept of the “settler” movement. He was unaware that there are also urban areas in the West Bank.
On another occasion, when he took journalists to Eli, where the first Orthodox pre-military academy was founded in 1988 – an academy that now boasts over 3,000 graduates, most of whom have served in combat units, and more than half of whom have been military officers and/or are leading figures in major organizations and institutions – the journalists were again surprised.

Some 100,000 Palestinians earn their livelihoods through Jewish- owned commercial and industrial enterprises, and visitors get a chance to meet some of them when they visit factories, stores and restaurants.
The Palestinians want to work there because even though the salaries are not great, they are in line with Israel’s basic wage, and are twice as high as what they would earn in the Palestinian Authority.

Journalists are not the only people taken on these eye-opening tours.

Groups, large and small, also include people who are brought to Israel by J Street and by AIPAC as well as many other organizations. The Mayor of Efrat, who is also the equivalent of the “settler” community’s minister of public diplomacy, has over the past two years addressed 180 such groups, including American congressional delegations which will not necessarily come to the West Bank but are always willing to meet with West Bank representatives to hear their views and to try to get a better understanding of the complexities in the relationship between them and the Palestinians.

Though not everyone in the “settler” movement believes in giving the Palestinians greater autonomy, there are those that do. While not in favor of the two state solution, they do believe that the Palestinians should have a greater say in running their own lives, and that Palestinian mayors should be able to consult on a regular basis with their Israeli counterparts in order to improve the quality of life of their constituents.

People don’t realize that the “settler” movement is doing more than anyone else with regard to Israeli-Palestinian coexistence, said Dilmoni.
It was also pointed out that one of the most common misconceptions about the “settlers” is that they all belong to the National Religious camp. Only a third of them do, a third are ultra religious, and the remaining third are secular. Not all make their homes in the West Bank for ideological reasons.

Some come for the quality of life, where the environment is less crowded and less polluted, but where all the community services available in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem also exist, though not always as close at hand.

Shiloh, the biblical city which was the capital of the 12 tribes when they first crossed into the Promised Land, is the West Bank’s jewel in the crown, a site visited by pilgrims as well as tourists. It is steeped in history as well as in spirituality, and last year hosted more than 100,000 tourists, including groups from Russia and China.

The visitors who are opposed to the “settlement” movement will not necessarily change their minds, but participating in the visits allows them to experience the reality and not to rely on false media reports, which often tend to demonize the “settlers”. The tours aim to give visitors something to think about.

Friday, July 6, 2018

A wedding in India

I don't normally write about such personal experiences, but our trip to India to attend the wedding of the son of a good friend of ours was so special that I feel I must record the details of the event ...........
So the wedding extravaganza is over, Wow! It began with an hour of dancing to welcome the groom as his car drove him into the hotel guest arrival area (incidentally, the hotel is next door to a very elaborate shopping mall, so you don’t get wet going from one to the other in this, the monsoon season)
Many of the men were dressed in turbans and even I was drawn away to ensure I got fitted with a turban. 
As we generated to the hall where the wedding ceremony was to be held, we were greeted on the stage with the most elaborate “canopy”on a stage decorated with the most beautiful flower arrangements and seating for, we estimate, over 500 people. The “priest” spent the next 30 mins with the bride’s parents on the stage in intense conversation, about what, who knows? Then the groom joined them  where more intense conversation took place. All this was accompanied by music of a decibel level that makes Israeli weddings seem like nothing. Most of the guests at this stage were outside the hall in the entrance area eating.
Finally, some 1.1/2 to 2 hours after the start of the welcome dances for the groom, the bride made her entrance into the hall under her own mobile intricate flower bedecked canopy held by 4 people holding it over the head of the bride as she moved to the stage and this canopy was then removed. At this point it is important to comment on the exotic saris and gowns that so many of the women were wearing, absolutely beautiful.
With the bride and groom now on stage, the exchange of vows started over flaming coals and although we could see some of what was happening, the number of official photographers hid much from the view of the guests. It is important to point out that only the bride’s parents were on stage during this ceremony, the groom’s parents were not involved at all, as the principle is that the bride is being taken from her parents to live with her husband at the home of the grooms parents, where they have their apartment within the apartment of the parents. Whatever the ceremony was that was going on on-stage, no-one could hear anything. The “priest” was not using a microphone, the background music was deafening and most guests were milling around talking.
The whole ceremony was concluded after approx. 3 .1/2 hours after which we returned to our room (the wedding was in the same hotel where we were staying) to “recover” and prepare for the reception. The reception consisted of every guest , approx 700, queuing in a very orderly manner to go up on the stage, in the same wedding hall, to congratulate the bride, groom and their respective families before going up one level to the dinner which was spread over three halls in order to accommodate approx. 700 guests. At this point I was feeling a little of the Indian belly syndrome, so we made our greetings to some of the family and guests and retired to our room at approx. 11:00 pm. (This also gave us the opportunity to watch some of the tennis from Wimbledon!!)
Since the wedding yesterday evening the weather has turned atrocious with lots of rain and flooded roads. It was reported that 131 mm of rain fell in 24 hours. Since we are being chauffeured around everywhere and being dropped off at the required destinations it is not such an inconvenience.