Report from Grad Alley

As a resident of Grad Alley, living in a rural villa less than 40 kilometers from Gaza that doesn’t have a built-in mamad (a “protected safe zone”) or a public shelter within reach, I was relieved to see that the IDF Home Front Command is thinking of me.

Last week, as in the past, for four days we soothed ourselves with the illusion that we are perfectly safe dashing into the stairwell of our tile-roofed spit-level to sit on bright pink plastic kindergarten stools under what looks like a small patch of solid ceiling, while in fact the ceiling is only a chocolate-bar of hollow cinderblock, a few re-enforced beams and a thin layer of poured concrete, sand and floor tiles. In a space that used to house a 13-cubic-foot freezer, we wait for the dull thud, definite thud, Thud or THUD (but so far no BOOMs, thank goodness) of an incoming Grad rocket.

So, not surprisingly I was elated to read on the IDF’s official website that the “the IDF Home Front Command is working on developing several items to help civilians living under the threat of rocket fire.”

Among the Home Front Command’s “protection alternatives” are two contraptions to cope with Grad rockets that sound about as reassuring as recommending one construct a sealed room out of plastic sheeting and duct tape as an appropriate response to a Scud ballistic missile perhaps armed with a chemical warhead, falling earthward at five times the speed of sound into one’s back yard.

The first innovation gives a new twist to a classic Israeli innovation – the dual-purpose sapapa, a  1½ -size ‘double bed’ disguised as a sapa (sofa) dreamed up by Aminach Mattresses that come in a host of awesome designs and an array of colors for adolescents, and young adult couples occupying childhood bedrooms originally designed for a toddler. The Home Front Command’s dual-purpose sapa will transform instantly into a “blast-proof sukkah” (that’s what it says in Hebrew) against Grad missiles that, from the looks of it, will come in a cheery gunmetal gray color scheme.

Container City (courtesy of Urban Space Management)
Container City (courtesy of Urban Space Management)

While it remains to be seen whether this transformation from sofa bed-to-bomb shelter will require a screwdriver or whether the dual-purpose sapa will fold and unfold like a Japanese origami within  45 to 60 seconds flat (the window of time between launch and impact of a Grad rocket), it’s not the only custom design for unprotected family dwellings that our civil defense engineers are toying with: The IDF Home Front Command also rolled out the schema for a matching “blast-proof closet” in ultra-cool gray hues that can be transformed into a miniature standing-room-only cocoon that can double in peacetime as a wardrobe for one’s duds, between thuds.

Both “items” leave the distinct impression that Home Front soldiers are either woefully overworked or suffer from overexposure to Japanese Takara Tomy Transformer toys. (The parallels, if you watch this video, are truly stultifying.) I’m sure Ikea could dream up a far more attractive, simple-to-assemble solution (Allen wrench included) if asked, but the least the army could do is mobilize an interior decorator.

Frankly, if I’m destined to periodically take up residence in an oversized metal drum (has anyone thought about the acoustic ramifications of this solution in the event of a near miss?), how about changing the battleship gray color scheme, adding some bright decorative pillows and wall-to-wall carpeting.

(Courtesy of Blutstein Brondino Fine Arts)
(Courtesy of Blutstein Brondino Fine Arts)

Masking some of the iconic ribbed siding with Agam-like pastel strips  would do wonders to transform the eerie resemblance of this contraption to a Yom Kippur War-vintage bunker,  into a prize-winning postmodern industrial gem like Container City™ in the London Docklands… a section of London which, incidentally, was decimated during the Blitz.

About the Author
Daniella Ashkenazy is a bilingual Israeli journalist and the founder and CEO of Chelm-on-the-Med Online, a news outlet in English of zany news from Israel culled from the Hebrew press, designed to transform preconceptions about Israel – one chuckle at a time