After a long day of travel and border fun, I arrived in Jerusalem Thursday around 4pm. The King Hussein Bridge was fairly uneventful and I was surprised to have cute Israeli girls younger than me grilling me about why I was in Syria, and what my grandfather’s name was. And the fun just began. After staying with my “contact” near the old city I managed to get into a group of people going to Hebron, in the West Bank, and headed there around 10am the next day getting back around 4pm. Despite being an avid supporter of Israel, I must say that being there on the ground was a rather sobering experience not to mention seeing how the Palestinians are treated and how difficult even the smallest things are there. The streets were very quiet, most of the businesses were closed, Arabs were only allowed to use specially designated streets while others were desigated as “sterile” (i.e. Arab free). Soldiers mingled with uzi carrying settlers meanwhile Palestinians looked on often with a friendly smile or hello and occasionally with suspicion. We had some trouble getting out of Hebron as the private security guard at the gate refused to let us out and insisted on checking our ID’s (which is illegal) because he knew it was a group against the occupation (I jumped in at the last minute as a tourist just to be able to go there) so we had to call the police who told him to allow us through and when he still refused, the police had to come to the gate and threaten to arrest him before we could get out. All in all 30 to 45 minutes.
Also visited a Palestinian family and were shown some home video from cell phones and digital cameras of settlers breaking into their house and cutting all their grape vines not to mention vandalizing everything. Additionally, there was a very clear video of settlers attacking Palestinian school children (who are only allowed to use a single street and thus easy targets) while the Israeli Army stood by and did absolutely nothing at all. At the moment, there are somewhere around 130,000 Palestinians there and a little over 500 Jews the army is there to protect.
Here are various pictures from Hebron:
Closed shops in Hebron. In order to protect the few Jewish settlers in Hebron, the army has closed off large areas of the city and designated them Jewish only, thus destroying commerce in certain places.
An everyday scene of destruction.
Israeli flags among the rubble of Hebron:
An ultra right-wing settler mingling with the soldiers and sporting an Uzi.
Settler children walking home through the rubble.
Though this looks like 1930′s Germany, Jewish settlers have spray painted Stars of David on areas they (incorrectly) claim are Jewish and were stolen by Palestinians.
A bad angle for the picture, sorry. Palestinians emerge onto the otherwise completely empty streets to head through the souq to the mosque at prayer time. Notice the check points and barriers around.
One of many checkpoints/military stations throughout the city.