Feature: Israeli blacksmith molds missiles into artworks to deal with mental trauma

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-30 20:44:44|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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by Keren Setton

JERUSALEM, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Yaron Bob, a tall and large man with gentle eyes and blunt movements, handles metals briskly, lighting torches and molding pieces into artwork. His workshop is an organized mess.

However, they are not merely metals, but were missiles whistling over southern Israel, a volatile area that borders the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

He recalled the day 12 years ago, when a missile exploded just meters away from him and changed the course of his life. He was not physically injured, but the toll on his mental health was immediate.

"I went home, sat down and all the emotions started accumulating," Bob told Xinhua. "I wanted to take away all my emotions and ... make something that stands for what I believe."

Even years after the incident, a loud noise from a passing car could make Bob all jittery. Only when he realizes it is not a rocket, he eases back into his routine work.

At his workshop, Bob is surrounded by hundreds of missiles, either from Gaza or the Israeli Iron Dome system which intercepts rockets.

"I want to take the instrument of death and destruction and transfer it into something representing beauty and prosperity," he explained.

He went into great detail of each missile, including their specifications. He is careful not to use those that caused injury or death.

"I really think it is bad energy," Bob said, referring to the missiles that hurt someone.

Many of the missiles fired by Hamas are Qassam rockets, which are cheap, unsophisticated and manufactured from simple metal pipes, standard fertilizer, sugar and basic explosives.

They are inaccurate and do not have a long range, Bob said.

Throughout the years of the conflict, Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza have upgraded their arsenal with better missiles from Iran and Syria, which have increased range and accuracy, he added.

In his large collection of missiles and scrap metals, it is easy to identify the Iron Dome missiles, an Israeli air defense system used to intercept short and medium range missiles.

Since its deployment in mid-2011, Iron Dome, a game changer, has been successful in intercepting many of the rockets. Bob uses them to make the "mezuzah," a small decorative case that Jews attach to the doorpost of their home, symbolling God's protection of the home and its inhabitants.

Over the past year alone, thousands of missiles from Gaza were launched into Israeli territory, leaving dozens of Israelis killed and thousands others injured, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The current escalations in rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israel all started in the summer of 2017, when Hamas violently took control of the coastal enclave after ousting the security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Among the casualty of these political games are innocent civilians, who are not just physically hurt but tend to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), just like Bob.

"I managed to figure out how to take all my fear and bad feelings into good ones," said Bob, patting his large dog who also jumps at every loud noise heard in the vicinity.

"No one on both sides of the fence ... wants to live their days in fear ... We just want to live as normal as anybody else in the whole world," he told Xinhua.

In Yated, whereb Bob lives, the border near Gaza and Egypt may be clearly marked but the sound of explosions are frequently interrupting the quiet surroundings.

"The feeling is very stressful. There is no way you can run away. You just hide and stay low," Bob said. "You pray for the rocket not to hit you."

He hopes for the day when his work will be made by other materials and when he will be able to relax and have no trauma to deal with.

"I really wish they will stop throwing rockets, so I will not need to do this work," Bob prayed.