Updated: Aug 21, 2020
Yesterday morning myself and many other Israelis around the center of the country awoke early this morning to a giant volley of explosions that shook our homes and lasted for over an hour (and returned in the evenings). Non Shabbat-observant Israeli Jews and foreign visitors went to social media immediately to try and figure out what was going on (since depending how close one lives to Arab towns/neighborhoods it really sounded like a war broke out). Fortunately a number of Arabs immediately posted to explain what was going on and to keep everyone calm. No it was not a 3rd intifada due to the annexation talk (the response to that has been surprisingly muted apart from Hamas and Fatah supposedly joining forces to protest it). Rather, it was the release of the results of the university entrance exams known as the Tawjihi.
The Tawjihi exams are from the Jordanian educational system and they began here when Jordan illegally annexed the area which they named the West Bank back in 1949. When the Palestinian Authority took over Gaza in 1993 they introduced the exams there. The exams - written over 20 days in June - not only determine if someone can gain entry to university but also which subjects they can study. For more on their exam system click here: https://educationinpalestine.wordpress.com/the-tawjihi-exam/
"Following the announcement cities and towns erupt with fireworks and parades of celebrating students driving down main streets" - this is an understatement. As you will see in the videos below, it was absolutely crazy - and somewhat dangerous [not to mention, perhaps a bit disrespectful to the 50% of the people who don't pass the exams and scary for children and animals]. And yes, there are some Palestinians who are not happy with this tradition either (as well as the shooting of guns in the air in celebration, though that's mostly been discouraged as they have discovered the concept of gravity).
Just another great reason to visit Israel with a tour guide of Israel who can let you know what's going on (in advance) so you don't get freaked out [the giant siren which begins Shabbat can be scary too if you don't know what it is].
Anyway, check out the 3 crazy videos below - and mazal tov to those who passed the exams. Mabruk!
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