Artist Beats Gaza Rockets into Chanukah Lamps

Yated, Israel (Reuters) -
A Chanukiah crafted by Israeli metal sculptor Yaron Bob is seen at his studio in Yated, southern Israel. (REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

The clang of hammer on metal and the roar of a blowtorch can be heard long before you walk into Israeli metal sculptor Yaron Bob’s workshop.

Featured prominently in his workshop is a quotation from Yeshayahu : “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares.”

Bob is doing something close to that in his studio in Yated, an agricultural community near the border where Israel, Gaza and Egypt meet.

His raw material is rockets and mortar shells fired into Israel by Palestinian terrorists from Gaza, just 2.5 miles away.

The twisted shrapnel is dropped off at his smithy by police; and Bob, 47, crafts artwork and religious symbols from the metal, selling his creations in Israel and abroad.

In the run-up to Chanukah, he was busy crafting a monumental Chanukiah, a candlestick with nine branches that is used during the eight-day festival that starts this year at sundown on Sunday.

Bob also makes the seven-branched menorah, a symbol that appears on the emblem of the State of Israel.

“The idea of turning rockets into menorahs and Chanukiah is turning the symbol of death and destruction into a symbol of light, and Chanukiah is the symbol of light,” Bob said.

The rockets are not merely material for artwork. Bob, like thousands of other Israelis in the south, lives under the threat of attacks from Hamas in Gaza.

“We have only between 10 to 15 seconds to run for shelter, so every millisecond counts, and because of that we are in anxiety,” Bob said.

“When I’m taking the rockets and I cut them and I put them in the furnace and I’m working with them or with the blow torch and I’m working, I’m like destroying, annihilating the rockets. So, this is my therapy.”