The city of Ashkelon in Israel turned into a ghost town after being bombarded by rockets from the Gaza Strip. Photo/Ashraq Al-Awsat
TEL AVIV – Ashkelon Israel’s central bus station is quiet, as is happening to almost the entire city right now.
Two old men from Ethiopia stood near the ticket window staring at the list of destinations. But they didn’t come close to buying tickets.
On a bench on the platform of a bus bound for Jerusalem, sat a woman in her 70s, hunched over and radiating anxiety.
Sima, a widow born in Ashkelon, said she had accepted an offer from Ashkelon welfare services to flee to Jerusalem.
This morning, as she boarded the bus, she realized that due to stress she had forgotten some medicines and other important items.
“I ran to my apartment, I took what I needed, and now I’m here waiting for the bus to Jerusalem, dying for fear that there will be more missiles before the bus arrives,” he said, glancing nervously toward the sky as if trying to saw another Palestinian rocket before it arrived as quoted by Middle East Eye, Sunday (29/10/2023).
Ashkelon is a coastal city in southern Israel between the Negev desert (Naqab) and the lowlands in the far west of the Lachish region. It is also several kilometers from the Gaza Strip.
The city has a population of around 180,000, including many from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia.
Known in Arabic as Asqalan, the city is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back more than 5,000 years. Its name is believed to be related to the Semitic root word meaning “heavy”, meaning the Israeli shekel currency.
Ashkelon is mentioned for the first time in Egyptian texts around 1,900 BC, and later in Hebrew in the Book of Joshua in the Bible. This is also mentioned in one of the hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad SAW which says, “The best type of defensive battle is in Askalan” at the end of time.