Ein Gedi Botanic Garden

Ein Gedi Botanic Garden
Seek the serenity of a Judean Desert sky in Autumn at the Ein Gedi Botanic Garden

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Just Down the Road, The Longest Landing Strip in the World

The Israel Air Force has been quietly transforming its Nevatim base, a standard air force installation in southern Israel, into a Middle East wonder of the military world.

It's located only a few miles away from my house, so we will have the benefit of hearing every last takeoff and arrival of every last military aircraft in the south. At one time, it was the "secret" air base that everyone knew about. All you had to do was ask any Israeli for directions to the site.

The plan now is to expand and upgrade the base into a massive complex designed to house various operational buildings, as well as thousands of IAF personnel. It's well underway, with construction of the new base almost complete.

But the real centerpiece of the improved Negev-based IAF complex is its new landing strip, a whopping 2.5-mile (over four kilometers) paved highway on which the largest transport aircraft can land. Think "Hercules" and "Boeing 707" flying personnel carriers. It will be the largest landing strip in the entire Middle East.

The development is part of a master plan by the IDF to move the majority of IAF bases south to the Negev, said Colonel Tzvi Tweezer, administrator of the Nevatim base. “The transfer of the Air Force to the south is part of a great plan being put into action by the IDF,” he wrote in an article posted on the IAF website. “This particular stage is paramount to the success of that greater plan, which includes the upcoming ‘training base city’ project.” Tweezer added that the expanded base would also provide jobs for hundreds of people in a region which is known for its lower-than-average salaries and high unemployment.

The article also pointed out that such a mammoth operation requires development of improved infrastructuresin the area: "This will include constructing transportation systems, education facilities, places of employment and housing. As part of the improvement of the infrastructure in the region, a train station will be built at the gates of the base… vital roads will be built ahead of schedule by the IAF, and a gas-powered electricity station will be built to produce energy for the region."

The amount of asphalt used to pave the new landing strip was about the same amount used to pave a 56-mile-long two-lane highway.

The base is expected to stretch across an area equivalent to the total size of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and will include a new air traffic control tower, underground hangars and housing for at least 2,000 soldiers. Some 900 workers were hired to build the new base, with more than half of them local Negev residents. The project, which also involved relocation of IDF training units, Intelligence Corps and Teleprocessing Units, is expected to cost a total of approximately $658 million.

The new Nevatim base is scheduled to make its debut by 2009.

This article appeared in the February 18, 2008 edition of IsraelNationalNews.com

Monday, February 11, 2008

When Life Collides With Death for a Jewish Doctor

Dr. Baruch Mendeltzvei didn’t waste time when he heard the explosion; he rushed to the scene with nurses. He also didn’t waste time when he saw the explosives belt on his patient.

For at least one doctor in Israel, the medical issues of life and death converged last Monday morning with the issue of national survival.

When Dr. Baruch Mendeltzvei heard the explosion in the center of the town, he didn’t wait to find out what had happened. He and several nurses in the Maccabi Health Clinic raced to the scene with medical bags.

The first victim he saw was a man lying on the ground near the dead suicide bomber, bleeding from a head injury.

“We didn’t look to see who it was, whether he was an Arab or a Jew,” Mendeltzvei told IDF Army Radio. “He was in critical condition at the time, but there were signs of life and so we began to treat him.”

Quickly the doctor opened the man’s shirt to check for other injuries – and saw an explosives belt wrapped around his patient’s waist.

The medical team “ran for [their] lives.” Racing to the nearest police officer, the doctor quickly described his discovery.

Within seconds, Police Superintendent Kobi Mor shot the second would-be suicide bomber in the head, killing him instantly and averting what might have been a double tragedy.

Mendeltzveig and his team resumed treating the victims until all were evacuated by ambulance to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva.

Then they returned to the clinic and went back to work. Incredulous, the interviewer asked the doctor if he really had gone back to work. “Yes,” he said. “I’m a little busy,” he added apologetically. “I’m in the middle of seeing patients.”

The cop got a promotion for shooting the terrorist at point-blank range. Dr. Mendeltzveig got a pat on the back and the admiration of people like me.