Hot air balloons are prepared before they take flight during a two-day international hot air balloon festival in Eshkol Park near the southern city of Netivot, Israel July 22, 2016..
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
The Hot Air Balloon Festival that was supposed to be held Thursday and Friday in the Eshkol Region was canceled following the recent escalation of rockets from Gaza.
“We had to cancel the festival to ensure the safety of the participants,” said Shai Hajaj, head of the Merhavim Regional Council on Thursday. “The government and the IDF need to bring complete quiet here, whether it’s through military or diplomatic means.”
The festival had reportedly sold 4,000 tickets for the two-day event at Habasor National Park, 10km. east of the Gaza border.
In Ashkelon, the municipality canceled a tribute concert to the British pop band Queen scheduled for Thursday night in the Ashkelon National Park “because of the security situation.” The city said that the tribute to Freddy Mercury was expected to draw 2,500 spectators. No rescheduled date was announced.
Similarly, a concert by the Tel Aviv jazz band Quarter to Africa – which was slated to play at Kibbutz Kissufim less than 2km. from the Gaza frontier – was postponed indefinitely.
“This was supposed to be our stage tonight in the Gaza envelope,” the band posted on its Facebook page Thursday. “Sadly, because of the Defense Ministry instructions we are delaying the show. We love you people of the South. We are all with you, and we will be with you very soon to shake your fields.”
As residents of the South face barrages of Qassam rockets, cultural institutions across the country have opened their doors for free to affected families.
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On Thursday, Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum invited all residents of the Gaza area to visit the museum without payment for the next week, “as a sign of solidarity.”
The capital’s Bloomfield Science Museum similarly invited Gaza-area residents to visit, discounting admission by 50%.
Meanwhile the Apaklaria Theater in Jerusalem announced Thursday it was stopping its regularly scheduled performances in order to put on a series of free shows for those living near the Gaza border.
“We’re proud of residents of the South for their resolute stance against the enemy’s lowly attempts to violate the peace of summer vacation,” said theater CEO Hagay Luber on Thursday. “As a sign of appreciation and respect, we would be happy to perform for residents of the South.”
The Maale Yosef Regional Council – situated in the Upper Galilee – invited affected families to stay in homes of its residents, and to partake in its “Playing the World” festival Thursday night at Moshav Me’ona, where singer Karolina was slated to perform.
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