Fleas Are Worse than Bombs

Flea-Infested Junk

Flea-Infested Junk

The city assigns each street a designated day for leaving out large items  for pickup. Yesterday, I put out a stroller, in the hope that someone would find it and use it. When a friend emailed that she wanted it, I went down to retrieve it.

While there, I met a neighbor from across the street. He identified the pile above as the contents of his building’s bomb shelter. The clothes and mattresses had become infested with fleas that spread to the whole building. The fleas, and not the security situation, forced them to prepare the shelter in case of war.

This inspired me to write up a notice for my own building. No doubt our shelter looks like theirs used to. I left  space for the residents to sign that they have removed everything, including things they no longer want, from the shelter. If they don’t take care of it within a week, they will have to share in the cost of the removal. I wrote that it’s not acceptable for individuals to use the shelter for their private needs and thus endanger the security of the neighbors. As a bonus, I mentioned the fleas.

When I showed the sign to the head of the residents’ committee, she pointed out that some people keep tables and beds for their sukkah. We agreed to add in a line saying that special requests should be discussed with the neighbor. But I sure hope those mattresses don’t have any fleas.

Related: Unofficial Guide to Israeli Vermin (Humorous post, also containing a definitive guide for getting rid of lice)


  1. Not only is our building’s shelter packed with furniture, it’s also locked on a regular basis. One would think that the point of a shelter is that it remain open and available in case of an unexpected attack… but apparently we are in the minority in thinking so.

  2. Bedbugs are a big problem in the US, so we hear. My husband won’t let me get a used mattress or sofa because of fear of bedbugs.

  3. Linking to your vermin post, I think what you call fleas might be what we call bedbugs. The symptoms and suggested treatments are similar.

    Bli Ayin Hara we have not encountered them (maybe due to my husband’s vigilance (paranoia?). Also, we don’t travel, but supposedly people unwittingly bring them home from hotels with them.

    • mominisrael says

      They are similar in their lifecycles, but we had fleas and even saw them. They really do leap.

  4. How do you know you have fleas?
    You could also mention tsetse flies in your vermin post. We have them in the desert outside of Jerusalem, where we live. They come in from the desert and are very hard to get rid of. They carry a parasite called leshmania (sp?) that causes a wound that takes months to heal. The wound in Hebrew is called “shoshanat Yericho”. Most people do not get this from their bites though.
    I thought we had tsetse flies, but now I am worried about fleas -ugh

    • mominisrael says

      We knew we had fleas, because they came from the gan (preschool). A lot of families had them. Something about cats and shrubbery. Also, we saw them, like I mentioned. You can find pictures of flea bites on the internet.

  5. wow… yuck!!

    nothing like some outside motivation to clean up that bomb shelter….

  6. mominisrael says

    Ariela, I only wrote about vermin I am familiar with.

  7. Betzalel says

    Allow me to say this: You are so funny!

  8. I had real bedbugs during my first year in Israel. 🙁 I bought a gorgeous new mattress and had to throw it out and destroy my bedframe because there’s no way to get them out of wood. I lived in an attic that was only accessible by a small staircase and the only feasible way to get the bed frame down was by destroying it with a hammers and carrying down the remains piece by piece

    That was fun. The bedbugs weren’t. Yuck, i remember the bites and finding dead ones in my mattress. Between them and the stray dogs howling in the empty lot behind our apt, the shooting i could hear from Beit Jala because the building was on a hill, those were fun times!

  9. mominisrael says

    Betzalel: You’re allowed!
    Abbi: A genuine aliyah adventure.

  10. Ariela, you mentioned tsetse flies and Shoshanat Yericho. I have heard of the Shoshana Yericho but I didn’t know they were caused by tsetse flies. In fact I thought those flies only lived in Africa or tropical regions. I also heard that Shoshanat Yericho is endemic to one town only in all of Israel, and that is Peduel (where my son lives), the reason for this being that the flies have infested a pack of jack rabbits that live in Peduel. The rabbits are a protected species and therefore cannot be gotten rid of. The treatment for this disease is indeed horrible and the recovery time is very lengthy.

  11. Dear Annie, It is not true that there is only shoshanat yericho in Peduel. Several people in my Yishuv and the surrounding yishuvim have had it as well (we are between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea). Some of the sandflies (not tsetse) carry the parasite and can transmit it to human beings. see this lik

  12. Hi Ariela, thanks for the information and the link. The info and pictures will give me nightmares for a while 🙁

  13. The junk in my building’s bomb shelter was infested with fleas, cockroaches, spiders, and scorpions. The same photos I posted on my blog, I printed out with a request to empty the shelter out. I tacked the paper to the building’s bulletin board. Mentioned no names, but all the stuff belonged to only one family. I guess it helped – they cleared all away within a week and the “vaad bayit” had the shelter exterminated.

    It seems that a little pressure, and the ability to withstand being unpopular, does the trick. Too bad we have to resort to such tactics.

  14. P.S. – MiI, if there are fleas in your building’s shelter, the mattresses are certainly infested.