Open fighting broke out in Tel Aviv last week.
No casualties were reported, but hundreds of people got wet.
At the fifth annual Water Fight (waterwar5.info), some 500 young Israelis and tourists squirted each other in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, the city’s central gathering spot, near the municipality building.
This year’s slogan was “Fighting over every drop,” the theme was water conservation and the general purpose was fun.
Water conservation in a water fight?
All the water, recyclable, comes from the square’s fountain, event organizers point out.
“I think it’s nice for morale in Tel Aviv,” says Ron Mekler, one of the water warriors. “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 a celebration of freedom. You really feel the community.”
Israel’s Water Authority, however, thinks the organizers are, ahem, all wet. Inappropriate during a time of national drought, says authority spokesman Uri Schor. “It doesn’t look right. When you have such drought-filled years, if a kid sees such a thing, he doesn’t understand where the water comes from.”
Event organizer Yaron Nahari won’t let the authority put a damper on the fun. “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. It’s managed to bring the issue to light in a fun, interesting way.”
Participants, outfitted in trunks and bikinis, wet suits and inner tubes and balloon hats, came armed with water pistols, super-soakers, bottles, bags and buckets of water.
At the fight’s squirt-off, Nahari, in suit and tie, stood on a ladder to announce the rules. Squirting ensued before he finished.
The idea for the fight came to him one hot summer day in Tel Aviv. “I was on a bus that passed Rabin Square,” he says, “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.”