Hebron and Bethlehem

A question of tectonics? A graffiti in Jerusalem shows someone throwing a stone, with the Hebrew writing “all because of the Syro-African Rift”.

In the West Bank, I visit Hebron, where the conflict is clearly felt. Surrounded by concrete walls and barbed wire, there is a Jewish settlement in the middle of the bazaar. Heavily armed soldiers protect it, but also the Arabs from the somewhat fanatical settlers. The bazaar seems somewhat deserted, life has shifted away from the old town. A grille hangs over the main alley in places, because now and then rubbish is thrown from the other side. The centre of the dispute is the Tomb of Abraham, divided into a Jewish and a Muslim half.

In the West Bank, I keep seeing big red signs like “You are entering PA-administered territory controlled by Palestinian security forces” or “Zone A, no entry for Israelis”.

In Bethlehem, as in other places in the West Bank, posters praising the martyrs are everywhere on the walls. After all, terror is the most important export of the Palestinian territories… Sometimes there are martial men posing with machine guns, sometimes the innocent face of a child who has bombed his way to seventh heaven somewhere in Israel and is now being pampered by a few virgins … Almost always the symbolic dome of the Dome of the Rock is in the background. While I am photographing one of the posters, a child stands next to me and proudly boasts that the young man on the poster is from his family. Why is he on the poster? “Israel, boom. You know, Israel no good.” Well then…

With all the hassle, and contrary to what I’ve heard, the security checks are relatively short and perfunctory, at the checkpoint from the West Bank into Israel the bus is simply waved through. And I’m already used to someone with a gun standing everywhere from visiting the other countries of the Middle East.

Read on

Backpacking trip Middle East and Caucasus 2008
Yom Kippur in Jerusalem
Tel Aviv and the North of Israel
MasadaMakhtesh Ramon