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The Cross of Bethlehem

The Cross of Bethlehem II

$100 Million and 4 Guns

Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land
Jeremiah 1:14



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Hebrew "mita'am"* literally means "from-flavor." It denotes a messenger, someone who is "flavored" with content given by somebody else. A recurrent problem with Hebrew media is that it is flavored; it is conscripted journalism conveying the messages sent by the State.

On June 15, 2013, a media report on four guns stolen from a military base provided an awesome example of that.

Golani Junction

Golani Junction
Upwards to Tiberias, Leftwards to Rosh Pina
The Route 66 Encyclopedia

Why the jugular is so far from the heart?

Latrun Junction is Israel's jugular. In the 1948 War, it was the scene of a major victory of the Arab Legion against the IDF. Since then, it is a traumatic spot (see Reviving Burma Road). Capture it and you cut the link between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

In its relentless preparations for war, Israel is upgrading the site now; adding tunnels, traffic lines, and a fast railway (see German Machine, Russian Workers and Israel's Largest Nuclear Shelter).

Far from there, and in an unlikely place, is Israel's heart. A secondary junction that during a conventional war becomes the key point for the military, Golani Junction connects Haifa and the Coastal Plain with the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights.

Due to my past, I am stepping on very thin legal ice here. Let me emphasize that most persons passing through the site will be capable to make remarks at the level I will present here. Why Latrun is a vein, while Golani is the heart? It is impossible to ignore three very large military bases sitting next to this junction. Even if one doesn't recognize the function of the funky-structures, the main gates are marked with clear signs disclosing their function. Regular military bases but of overwhelming extension; many air-camouflaged, low structures of one of them can be seen for miles next to the road. Allow me to stop here.

During a conventional war, the IDF must use this junction for moving reserves and equipment to the frontline. Block it, and the Golan Heights would return to Syria in less than 24 hours.

Thus, it is not surprising that the site is facing an upgrade; the junction is nowadays in the process of becoming an interchange; a related work is the widening of the roads beyond the interchange area.

Golani Interchange

Golani Interchange—By the Roads National Company
Upwards to Rosh Pina, rightwards to Tiberias, downwards to Afula, leftwards to Haifa


The Flavor of Conscripted Media

Since 2011, Hebrew media is constantly reporting and criticizing the expansion efforts of this junction.

Interchanges are new in Israel. One of the achievements of Yitzhak Rabin in his second term as Prime Minister (1992-1995) was a decision to modernize Israel's network of roads. The most visible result of this initiative was the creation of the Ayalon Highway (Road #20). Until then, there were no highways crossing the city; traveling from Haifa in the north to Jerusalem in the east through Tel Aviv was a nightmare. Ayalon Highway was designed as a 30km long, wide road connecting all the highways reaching Tel Aviv, mainly highways #1 from Jerusalem, and #2 from Haifa. It runs parallel to the Ayalon River (more often than not a languid stream), it includes several railways and an additional one is planned to be constructed over the water stream. On regular days, 600,000 cars pass through it; navigating through the area without using it, is unthinkable now. All the images of the metropolis showing modern roads depict different angles of this project (Superstorm in Tel Aviv).

Since then, the network was substantially extended. Invariably, the media criticize this, making fun of any politician announcing a "free-of-traffic-lights highway connecting x with y." It never mentions the roads and junctions strategic role.

Invariably, these roads are always completed, with no public opposition discernible.

Invariably, these roads double as military routes.

Invariably, the conscripted media play the mass-distraction game requested by the government.

Any Spare Metal?

Israel is tiny. Everything is related, often in unexpected fashion. The expansion of the junction is causing odd results in the adjacent military bases.

Every year, several hundred guns are stolen from the IDF, mostly by Palestinians. I reported a recent such incident in Palestinians Take Weapon from IDF Soldier in Guard. In a rare show of extra-dry humor, Israeli media reports most of these events often blaming "metal-robbers." The ongoing road-works have created a gold opportunity for these metal-robbers (plastic guns have been declared obsolete even in Israeli kindergarten).

Six months ago, an undisclosed number of weapons were taken from the Naftali Base, home to a reserve division. This is the less sensitive basis in the area adjacent to the junction (it is not on the junction itself), and thus an easier target. On June 15, 2013, the basis was entered again by metal-robbers who took for guns. The event is under investigation. The IDF said that the peripheral defenses would be upgraded.

What is the cost of the ongoing upgrade? $100 Million and at least 4 Guns.


* מטעם There is no easy way of transliterating this into the Roman alphabet since it lacks a glottal stop and guttural letters. Both are often represented with an apostrophe. Vowels of different length are crucial and cannot be represented in English. Unluckily, in this case all these can lead to confusions despite the distinctively different sound of the words. Moreover, Hebrew features two T's, one can be aspirated while the other not. Thus the word opening this article is unrelated to מתאם which means "correlation," or "coordinator," depending on the pronunciation.

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