Dear Rabbi Ben-Chaim:

Today was a most enlightening day spent with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on the border between Gaza and Egypt.

We started with a drive to Gaza. That drive showed us a wonder. The deserts of Israel have been turned into gardens by the ingenuity and brilliance of the irrigation systems that the Israeli people have built in this arid land. It is astonishing to see the crops growing in abundance along the roadsides in the middle of the desert! We saw corn, melons, cotton and sunflowers in profusion.

Then came the stark contrast of the Arab-controlled lands. Theirs is a desert wasteland, with garbage and debris piled up everywhere. And the stench of human waste is overwhelming. The beaches along the sea in the Arab-controlled area reeked of human waste, rotting fish, and garbage piled on the beaches. It was truly shocking.

We picked up an Israeli soldier, Isaac, who was stationed waiting for us at the roadside, and who served as our guide to meeting up with more IDF forces, including the IDF Commander for all of the forces in the area. We met with them at a checkpoint in Gaza. At the checkpoint, we transferred to military vehicles. The commander, Moshe, drove us to every stop on our tour, giving Ambassador Keyes a full briefing of terrorist and IDF activities in the area.

Our first stop on the tour was a checkpoint thorough which Arab trucks were transporting Palestinian humanitarian foodstuffs. The trucks were piled high with sacks of vegetables and potatoes. Each truck would back up to another truck located on the other side of the fencing. The sacks were unloaded, one by one, so they could be checked for contraband. Anything that appeared suspicious was run through an on-site x-ray machine. This x-ray machine was also used to screen the parcels and packages of Palestinians coming from Egypt into Gaza to prevent smuggling of weapons and ordnance. This is, sadly, a necessary step to prevent terrorists from using this way-station for their own evil purposes, regardless of how much the humanitarian aid is needed by the Palestinian people.

This checkpoint has come under fire by radical Islamist extremists, as evidenced by the recent shelling of the fire station located there. We took a quick tour of the damaged station and fire trucks while there.

More IDF soldiers joined us there as we began the dangerous journey to the IDF outpost on the border of Gaza at Egypt. We took an extensive tour of the outpost. You could see the expended rounds in abundance on the ground from the IDF returning fire with their weapons from the bunkers. The IDF Commander told us that these outposts guarding the border take fire on a daily basis.

The electronic fencing stretched along the full border. This fencing not only gives an electric shock to anyone trying to breach the fencing, but it also alerts the IDF of the breach and of the location of the incursion so they can send forces to stop terrorist infiltrators.

The IDF has also been undertaking the dangerous task of locating underground tunnels from Egypt into Gaza where arms and ordnance have been smuggled.

Americans and the rest of the world are led to believe that suicide bombings are a spontaneous reaction "by the masses" to the so-called occupation. That lie has been exposed by the training tapes and bomb factories that havebeen documented by the IDF. And these tunnels offer further proof of the sophistication and coordination of the efforts by the Islamist extremists.The tunnels are the work of extensive planning - some even having electricity and telephone service. These are well-funded and planned.

The IDF had, within recent days, blown up several tunnels of this nature and they showed us the locations from the bunkers overlooking the area.

Then our group climbed the 25-meter-high observation tower for a look at the entire area from above. Ambassador Keyes got a full briefing from this overhead vantage point of actions in the area and their precise locations. He was given the opportunity to look through their high-powered binoculars into the camps that fire upon this outpost from the Egyptian side of the border. It was quite illuminating.

After a long, hot day in the 110+ degree heat, we retreated to an IDF base in the area to have lunch with some of the troops. Ambassador Keyes had a long talk with these soldiers about their service, their dedication and their families.

It was a most informative and moving day for all of us.

On behalf of Ambassador Keyes, I'd like to express our appreciation to you and to Mesora for your hard work in covering these events in Israel. The Ambassador will soon have a special message for your readers on the IDF and our tour of Gaza. As always, he wants to digest everything he has seen, then give you his thoughts.

In friendship,

Connie Hair



A note from Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim to Connie Hair:

"Connie, no thanks needed. We appreciate your support and message to the world delivered so vividly through your notes and images. Your personal diary is being relayed to tens of thousands of concerned Americans, who truly appreciate this unique, up-close glimpse into Israel's situation.

Thank you,


Arrival at the Israeli Gaza checkpoint.


Keyes meets with the Commander of the Gaza forces. The only name we're allowed to use for security reasons is his first name: Moshe. Moshe acted as our guide for the day through Gaza and the IDF security forces there.

Inside the IDF vehicle with Moshe and Ambassador Keyes on the drive to an IDF security post on the Gaza/Egypt border.


This is a photo of our arrival at a checkpoint in Gaza. Arab trucks filled with vegatables and potatoes arrive at the checkpoint and are unloaded one bag at a time and transfered to a truck on the other side of the checkpoint. These goods are going to the Palestinian camps in Gaza.

If anything looks suspicious in the shipments, it is run through a xray machine.

Palestinians leaving Gaza have their items scanned through the xray. It is very important to check what is coming in as arms could be smuggled in through this point from Egypt.


Several IDF soldiers joined us for the day at this checkpoint to act as our guides, interviewees and guards. Ambassador Keyes got a lot of great background information from them. Here is the Ambassador with a few of them (the group got larger as the day went on, as people wanted to join us for the tour).


This same checkpoint, which facilitates the delivery of the humanitarian aid to the Palestinian residential areas without inteference from terrorists, has been bombed. Here is the fire station that was hit recently.


This is part of our military escort trailing our vehicle as we enter the area of Gaza along the Egyptian border


Lunch with the soldiers.


Keyes gets briefing from IDF soldier at security post at the Gaza/Egyptian border.


Parting photo with the soldiers.

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