Antalya and Gaza

Both are on the coast of the Mediterranean, both enjoy superb sea-shore climate, but what a difference!

The Friedel Chronicles
5 min readOct 25, 2023

In March 2006 a total eclipse of the sun was due to cross southern Turkey, and I was keen to see one in my lifetime. My wife and I traveled to Antalya, where the moon would completely block the sun. I have described the memorable experience that awaited us there.

Apart for the eclipse, what stunned us was the beautiful Mediterranean shoreline and the hundreds of high-class hotels built there.

This is a picture I took at the time: Antalya is located on the Mediterranean coast
The hotel we stayed in was pure luxury, with a large indoor swimming pool
And the city was building new hotels all the time. Here are two that were recently finished, designed (for fun?) in “Moscow style”
This is what the shoreline looked like: clean and well tended, a pleasure to swim and relax

One day, during our stay, we met an elderly Israeli couple, Moti and Carmela. Moti, whose family was originally from Germany — his father migrated to Palestine in 1920 — was an engineer who had significantly contributed to Israel’s architectural landscape, with some of its most distinguished designs. He had a deep knowledge of history, and was blessed with a fine sense of humour (which I much appreciated). Soon were were sharing lunches and dinners with the couple.

Moti told me a lot about Israel, and especially about Gaza, just seven hundred kilometers from where we were.

Six months earlier his country had carried out a unilateral disengagement process, forcibly evicting around 9,000 Jews living in 25 settlements in the Gaza strip. They were forced to completely withdraw to behind the internationally recognized 1949 Armistice Line between Israel and Gaza.

Moti was very excited about this development. “Watch what will happen,” he said. “We will make Gaza a paradise. Better than what you see outside here, in Antalya.” — “Who’s ‘we’,” I wanted to know, “you Israelis?” — “No, we and our Arab neighbours. They own the real estate, we invest and help them develop it. They have a young population, and we can make highly qualified architects and engineers of them. Electronic experts and computer programmers…” And he had a bit of advice: “Invest in the upcoming projects, Frederic. You will be helping construct a new Mediterranean Riviera!”

There had been an election in the Palestinian territories two months earlier, and a group that called itself “Change and Reform” had gained the highest number of votes, ahead of the ruling Fatah. People were worried about some of the radical things the Change and Reform leaders had said. But Moti assured me: “Once we start developing Gaza, once the strip begins to blossom and flourish, they will change. The people will force them to do so.”

Well, “Change and Reform” turned into “Hamas”, the Arabic acronym of “Islamic Resistance Movement”, and in a series of violent clashes Hamas defeated rivals Fatah and took over the Gaza portion of the Palestinian Territories. All future elections were cancelled.

The Hamas charter, originally founded in 1988, included a radical Islamic world view, had basically not changed. In its preamble it demands the destruction of Israel: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” Israel (and Egypt) imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, largely sealing their borders to the territory.

Since 2001, Hamas and Palestinian terror groups have launched tens of thousands of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israel was forced to build bomb shelters for the civil population all over the country. They installed the Iron Dome to intercept the rockets, and retaliated with air strikes.

Since they gained power, Hamas has ruled over the population of Gaza with an iron fist. What that meant has been comprehensively covered by the media. It has culminated in the October 7, 2023 attack on Israeli communities close to the borders, where it killed around 1400 people, mainly civilians, in the most beastly way imaginable. Over 2500 hostages were taken, mostly civilians, women and children. The reaction of Israel is ongoing, and is covered in great detail by the news.

What about Moti’s dream? Hamas has spent fifteen years doing everything in its power to fulfill its charter. October 7 was just the final attack.

And what does the Gaza coast looks like today:

I remained in contact with Moti for a number of years. In one email he wrote me: “It doesn’t happen often, but I’m afraid I was completely wrong in my prognosis on Gaza. I have always been a hopeless optimist.”

Mordechai Ben Horin (Moti) designed the iconic Dizengoff Tower in Tel Aviv, the Asia House and hundreds of other buildings.

Moti wanted each apartment in the 21-storey Dizengoff Tower to have a view in two directions, hence the zig-zag shape. The building has 226 apartments and towers over the Dizengoff Center, a mall with around 420 stores, a six-screen movie theater, restaurants, a design center, specialty stores, a rooftop swimming pool and two gyms. Moti also designed the Asia House and hundreds of other buildings.

Moti passed away a few years ago, at the age of 90, Carmela lives in Tel Aviv. Two daughters are general MDs, the youngest son is at the helm of the Gastroenterology department at Tel-Hashomer hospital.



The Friedel Chronicles

Frederic Alois Friedel, born in 1945, science journalist, co-founder of ChessBase, studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford.