In the morning I dropped of my cousin at the airport. She’s flying back home.
Then I continued to Kfar Uriyah, a village near Jerusalem. Alexander knows a girl there who he’d met in Georgia, too. Ruth had offered to host me for a night or two.
The weather wasn’t so great, so we decided to hop into the car and drive into the West Bank. For the uninitiated, Palestine’s status and situation is at best weird. More realistically speaking, the situation is horrible.
Some parts are under Israeli military control (“zone C”), some are under Palestinian control (“zone A”), and some are a mix (“zone B”). Israeli citizens are not allowed (by Israeli law) to enter the class A areas. Palestinians are not allowed to enter Israel at all. Israel is building a wall around the Palestinian areas to control migration (or for fear of attacks, or for whatever reason).
We drove to Bethlehem, a zone A area, and sneaked in through a gate without being checked. For me it wasn’t risky at all but Ruth, being Israeli, wasn’t allowed in, obviously, and the consequences would have been sever had she been caught. Tough girl.
We walked around the old town, visited the Nativity Church, and had a look at The Wall.
We left Bethlehem and drove to the Arab/Palestinian village of Al-Walaja nearby. The situation is absurd there. The Wall (or some wall?) is being built around the settlement. There is one house that sits a bit outside the village and hence the wall’s perimeter. That house will get its own wall built around it, and it will be connected to Al-Walaja by a tunnel, which is almost finished.
I think this is a prime example of the stupidity and absurdness of the whole situation, but also of the desperateness and fear on both sides. It is clear that solving this entire mess will be difficult at best.
We drove along the wall around Al-Walaja – only a small portion is finished, the rest is a massive building site -, had a look at the tunnel, were stopped by a Hebrew-speaking guy who told us that we were not allowed to be there (but we both pretended to not understand him), drove on and were stopped again by armed Arab-looking IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers who made it clear that we would not be able to continue with our car due to the condition of the track. Later Ruth told me they had said the wall is a bad thing (but again we had to pretend not to understand them). To summarize: The Israeli Defense Forces employ Arabs to guard the building site of a wall (which they don’t like) being built around an Arab village to protect Israelis. Hmmmm…
We stopped at a little shop in the village and had a chat with the shopkeeper. Omar was also the Muezzin of Al-Walaja and a nice guy. I bought some cumin from him and in the end he invited us to a coffee.
We drove on to Jerusalem, which wasn’t far, had a look at the movie schedule, decided to get some wine and go home instead, got stuck with the car in a narrow dead-end alley in the old city, managed to free it somehow, and eventually continued chatting at Ruth’s place over tasty dinner, wine, and nargilah.