Monday, 08 December 2014 07:20

Irish group13th- 20th Sep. 2014

It was a very interesting trip, and I got a better insight into the way people have to live in Palestine.  We arrived in Bethlehem at 5am, but as I could not sleep, I went walking in the town on Saturday morning.  I was very taken with the liveliness of the streets, and the friendliness of the people in a part of the world I had never visited before.  We had a tour of Bethlehem and its surroundings with Dr. Qumsiyeh.  We saw settlements, demolished buildings, walls of course and Israeli checkpoints.  The size of some of the walls came as a shock.  I  am interested in the environment and I found  Dr. Qumsiyeh's  work in this regard interesting. 

We visited Hebron, Jerusalem, and Ramallah during the week, and on the last full days I went with some of the group to Jericho and the Dead Sea.

 Hebron:  my memory of Hebron, is of closed down areas of the city, and of the street where Israelis who have taken over the top floors of buildings were throwing rubbish on Palestinian shops below.  This tour was organised by the Israeli group, Breaking the Silence.  I admire people like them who take a stand against the injustices they see.  We were in the mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and walked around some of the city's streets.  On our way back from Hebron, our Palestinian tour guide was told to leave the bus at a settler checkpoint by a heavily armed Israeli settler.  He had to find his own way back to Bethlehem.

 We visited  Jerusalem twice, on the first occasion seeing parts of the East and West of the city, and on both occasions meeting people who gave an insight into the problems faced by Palestinians and by Israelis who are looking for a solution to these problems.  Amongst the groups encountered were New Profile, Rabbis for Human Rights, and a Refusenik. All of these meetings were interesting and informative.  The lack of facilities and proper infrastructure in East Jerusalem contrasted with those in West Jerusalem, and of course we saw more segregation walls and settlements built on land belonging to the Palestinians.   On the second visit, we saw the old city and the holy sites, as well as the wailing wall.  In the evening, a meeting was arranged with Israelis in the Menachem  Begin Museum.  Two of these were settlers, and one in particular. an American, was quite extreme.

 Wednesday was spent in and around Bethlehem, where we visited, amongst other places, a refugee camp and a project for people with special needs.   For six of us, our last full day, Friday, was spent visiting Jericho (visiting Hisham's Palace and Mount of Temptation Monastery) and the Dead Sea.  I found the whole trip very worthwhile and would recommend a similar tour to anyone interested in the area.  The  coach drivers and guides were at all times courteous and helpful, as were the local people.  I would like to return.






Last modified on Tuesday, 09 December 2014 08:18

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