Welcome to Israel!

Today we went to the South of Lebanon, the part that is officially referred to as the liberated zone. This is the area that was controlled by Israel – through the south Lebanese army – until they were forced out by continuing casualties inflicted upon them by the armed wing of the Hezbollah in 2000. after visiting Beaufort castle, a former crusader castle overlooking most of south Lebanon, the Golan and parts of Israel, that was used by the IDF during the occupation as a military base and a former torture center run by the SLA for the IDF we went to the border between Lebanon and Israel just outside the northernmost Israeli settlement. The border itself is quite unimpressive and the IDF seems to keep itself out of sight deliberately in order to not provoke the Hezbollah loyalists on the other side. what is most notable is the obvious abundance of water on the Israeli side that supports extensive farming in stark contrast to the dryness of the land on the Lebanese side of the fence. While being at the border i started to receive welcome SMS messages form Israeli network operators. First four messages from orange Israel

Orange welcomes you to israel. you can now dial 1233 to listen to your voicemail and 1200 for your home customer service. powered by starhome.

and later a whole array of messages from Cellcom Israel.

welcome to cellcom. To listen to your voicemail just dial 1233 , and for your customer care 1200, as you do in the Netherlands! Enjoy your stay in Israel.

It is not unusual to receive such messages well beyond national borders but in the European context this does not really mean anything as borders in the frequency spectrum obviously do not adhere to the lines drawn on maps. but when you are standing in front of a border fence that is obviously designed to keep you out being surrounded by posters glorifying the acts of martyrdom committed against the Israeli occupation forces it is rather bizarre to be welcomed and asked to feel at home by an operator from the other side of the fence. even more disturbing is the fact that Cellcom kept sending me welcome messages long after we had turned north again. The last message arrived at my phone more than 24 hours later while eating lunch in restaurant du Chef in Beirut….

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