A trip through the West Bank

July 26, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Shabes I got up really early, took a Minibus to Jerusalem and from Damascus gate a bus to Ramallah. And from Ramallah a Minibus to Yericho. We pretended to be tourist from Poland and Germany on a visit to the Holy Land.

In Yericho there is not so much to see. They have an old city, but that is not more than a few humps of sand and stones. Maybe interesting for archeologist. There were two Americans (I guess archeology students) who looked intensely on all that sand and apparently saw something in it. I heard one saying something about stairs….

But there are two things that are definitely worth to see in Yericho. One is the Umayyad palace and the other one is the Greek-Orthodox monastery outside in the hills, which is definetly worth a visit. Especially because of the view you have from up there. The monk – with perfect American English – tells you a little bit about the history of the monastery. That it was built there, because there is the cave were Jesus supposedly fasted for 40 days.  And that it was destroyed by the Persians and only rebuilt in the nineteenth century, since it was forbidden for Christians to build religious sites under Muslim rule untill the Ottomans liberalized.

And then he tells you what you do not expect, but may should expect: “This land is ours, we where always here.” Well, “always”, what a term to talk about existence of social groups.

Our cab driver Abu Umar was much more pragmatic and said that the land belongs to whomever who lives on it (I did not ask him – we were tourist from Europe – if that also refers to those who lived on it) and that he justs wants peace to come and does not understand why the Arabs and Israelis just make peace. He cursed Abbas because he only “does what the Israelis tell him to do” and praised Arafat because everything was better under him, he thinks.

The situation I saw in the West Bank does not really fit is opinion. The economy is doin quite well and you do not get any impression, that the people are suffering.

All the time in the West Bank we were using the same transportation like ordinary Palestinians, using highways build by Israel that are also used by Israelis. We were not stopped once. In fact there were only three checkpoints on the way. One was right after Ramallah. The driver had to slow down (but only on the way to Ramallah), but the soldiers did not check the cars. Then there was a checkpoint on the way to Yericho, that I did not recognize (although we passed it twice; only thanks to the friend traveling with me I know about it). And there was a third checkpoint at the entrance of Yericho which was guarded by Palestinians soldiers.

The only time when I had to show my passport, was when I went back from the West Bank to Israel. And I should stress here again, that I was all the time using public transportation with Palestinians and for them it was the same.


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