tel aviv water fight 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Despite a negative reaction from the Water Authority, some 500 water warriors descended on Tel Aviv's Kikar Rabin Friday afternoon for the fifth annual Tel Aviv Water Fight - a controversial display in a desert nation.
Though critics slammed the decision to hold a water fight in a drought-ridden country, the event's Web site (www.waterwar5.info) said, "This year's water fight is held in light of the Israeli water crisis and goes to prove you can have fun while conserving water."
The tussle was advertised under the slogan "Fighting over every Drop."
Participants were urged not to bring water from home, but to draw on the fountain in Kikar Rabin, which is not used for any other purpose, event organizer Yaron Nahari said.
However, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor said the issue was not the waste of water, but the inappropriateness of such a display during a severe drought. Schor said Nahari had contacted him before the event to explain the details and ask for his support, but Schor declined to give it.
"I told him in such a water crisis to have a water fight is not a good idea," Schor said. "He assured me that the water will come from the fountain, but nevertheless it doesn't look right. It can only do damage. When you have such drought-filled years, if a kid sees such a thing, he doesn't understand where the water comes from. He doesn't think about it."
Nahari said the opposite was true. "My sense is that this event draws more attention internationally and nationally to the issue of water conservation than any other event I can think of," he said. "It's managed to bring the issue to light in a fun, interesting way."
Nahari added that water conservation and awareness has been an integral part of the event since its inception five years ago.
"From the get-go we placed an emphasis on intelligent use of water," he said. "We're recycling the water from the fountain to make it into something else that people also enjoy."
At the fight's kick-off, Nahari, clad in a suit and tie, stood atop a fold out ladder in the middle of the crowd to announce the rules, but eager participants started squirting one another before he could finish.
Dressed in outfits ranging from traditional bikinis and swim trunks to wackier ensembles consisting of wet suits, kids' floaties, inner tubes, umbrellas and balloon hats, most participants were under 35.
The event was primarily advertised online and by word of mouth, spread through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter as well as alternative news publications.
"The who's who of the blog world is here," said Ron Mekler, 24, who came to Tel Aviv from Even Yehuda for the fight. "All the geeks advertise it."
Mekler, who came to the water fight last year as well, said he enjoys the celebratory feeling of the event, and does not see the water usage as a problem.
"The water from the fountain recycles," he said. "I think it's nice for morale in Tel Aviv. When they made Israel a state in 1948, people danced the hora in the streets. But that kind of thing doesn't happen anymore. So now we have events like this, and it's nice. It's like a celebration of freedom. You really feel the community."
Nahari said the idea for the water fight came to him one hot summer in Tel Aviv.
"I was on a bus that passed Rabin Square, and I just had this image of hundreds of people running around cooling themselves off in a giant water fight. So I got some friends together and we formed a promotional video and sent it out to friends. It spread from there, and now it's a tradition."