The Wall of Separation

For those of you who don’t know much about the situation in the West Bank, to cut a long story short, the West Bank, also known as the occupied territories, or Palestine (although some would debate what constitutes Palestine..) is separate to the rest of Israel in that although the Israeli military maintains the borders, Arabs mostly occupy this land. The currency is the same as Israel but in many ways it’s a separate state. Although there are Jewish settlements in parts of the West Bank, Jews will generally not venture into this area – the army will stop them from entering in some cases. Likewise, Arabs wanting to enter Israel may find difficulties in doing so – they will need to pass checkpoints and show their IDs.

The situation really can’t be summed up in a few words and it’s quite hard to find articles that aren’t biased in one way or another. The wikipedia page is probably a good start:

Following violence in 2002 between Palestinians and Israelis, a wall started to be constructed to stop Palestinian suicide bombers from entering Israel and essentially separating the West Bank from the rest of Israel. This controversial wall has been the subject of many debates, and since Banksy left his mark on it 2 yrs ago, others have followed in his footsteps. The wall is now strewn with all kinds of political messages.

I think this is one of Banksy’s pieces:

Another one of Banksy’s:

So this was in Bethlehem. I came here last year as well and I found it really peaceful – there were literally no tourists. This time there were groups of pilgrims everywhere which was annoying, but considering Bethlehem’s significance to Christianity, it makes sense. It’s weird.. even though I love street photography which is mostly people-based, I tried to avoid capturing any tourists in these images.

Church of Nativity:

The security officer in the left of this image remembered me from last year:

(Apparent) Birthplace of Jesus:

I think I waited 5 minutes to get a shot as there were so many crowding around it..

Church of St Catherine:

I’m not religious nor Christian, but yet I find religion quite fascinating and to think that this is one of the most sacred towns in the world is pretty cool. There’s just so much history here..

Next stop from Bethlehem was Hebron. Hebron is also in the West Bank and we took a Service Taxi there. These are a common way for locals to travel – it’s basically a shared taxi/bus service and it costs around 7 shekels (around £1.20).

Hebron isn’t your typical tourist town – it really seemed ‘authentic’ in that there were no markets catering for outsiders, for example selling souvenirs. There was, however, this brilliant glassblowing factory made up of one man..

He was rolling it into all kinds of shapes and it was quite an intricate process.

He asked me if I wanted to try but the furnace was HOT and I really didn’t have the confidence to be glassblowing when I don’t have a clue as to how to do it.

I wanted him to make me a customised one but it takes a day for it to cool..: (

There was also this man making pots:

They had a shop of all the stuff they’d made:

That place was so cool and the glass was also so cheap. As the bus driver had told me – Hebron is famous for two things – glass, and grapes.

Hebron’s food market:


These guys were trying to sell me some fruit and they wanted a picture taken. They were being pervs as well. I actually found that many Arabs were pervs (without generalising) – they’d try to be flirtatious and it was really quite unappealing. I’m not sure why it is.. I mean OK maybe in Hebron tourists aren’t a common sight, but even in Jerusalem, young Arabs would try to lure women – I got a number of marriage proposals. That’s not to say there weren’t any decent Arabs – quite the opposite. I wish I’d taken a picture of the man from Hebron who sat next to me in the bus back to Bethlehem – he was really helpful and we had an insightful conversation about politics and the state of the West Bank.

Some more graffiti from the wall:

Even the Hindu ‘Om’ sign featured..

None of these messages reflect my own opinion. This is simply what I saw.

I guess tourists and locals use the wall as a way to channel their views

So it was back to the checkpoint to go back to Jerusalem:

You have to wait for the light to turn green before entering:

Luckily it wasn’t busy – I’ve heard it can take hours to get through during busy times such as when Arabs go to Jerusalem for Friday Prayers.

On the way back to Jerusalem:

View from Jaffa Gate, and my lame attempt at a night shot:

More from Jerusalem and the Dead Sea next time.. : ) Sorry if this entry sounded a bit dull – I had a bit of an accident and ended up falling face-first into concrete so my face is bruised and grazed which means I won’t be going out for a while! : ( I guess I’ll finally have the time to edit all my pictures..! Ah, painkillers, here I come..

Thanks as always for looking.

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