Israeli Soldiers Outside the Walls of the Old City

“the protests created a symbolic yet very real ‘threat’ to the Israeli bubble”

Soldiers Outside the Walls of the Old City, Jerusalem 2011

© Leslie Hossack

These young soldiers are sitting outside the walls of the Old City, not far from the Jaffa Gate. Built in the 16th century, the city walls have eight gates, seven of which are still in use. Until the 1870s, the gates were closed everyday from sunset until sunrise. The soldiers here are members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). National military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18; men serve for three years and women for two.

This photograph was taken just before the back-to-back celebrations of Memorial Day and Independence Day. May 14th, 1948 marks the day Israel became an independent state. However, Independence Day is celebrated in Israel according to the Hebrew calendar; therefore, it fell on May 10th in 2011, and will fall on April 26th in 2012.

Palestinians observe Al-Naqba Day (Day of Catastrophe) on May 15th, the day after Israeli Independence Day. During the war in 1948, over 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from Palestine, and the vast majority of these refugees have been denied the right of return. On May 15th, 2011, thousands of flag-carrying, non-violent Palestinians gathered at Israel’s borders to protest the creation of the State of Israel and their expulsion from Palestine.

“This Nakba day, unlike previous Nakba days, constituted a regional, synchronized act of awakening… For the general Israeli public, the protests created a symbolic yet very real ‘threat’ to the Israeli bubble” (Mahdi Sabbagh, May 22nd, 2011, 972 Magazine)