Western media is in favor of Israel and people automatically think that Palestine is bad. Israel restricts Palestinians rights, takes away their land and gets away with all sorts. I wanted to see Palestine for myself and make my own opinion.
I headed out to Bethlehem early morning with the intention of seeing a few areas. It’s a 25 minute bus ride out of Jerusalem. As you leave the city you immediately see the of the famous Israeli walls and security.
First stop in Bethlehem was the graffiti. I flagged a taxi down and he agreed to do me a tour of the walls for like 40 ILS (about £8).
We drive a few kilometers and jump out at the top of a hill. The old boy pulls out a load of food from the boot of his car and offers me some. I’m not one to decline free food so we polished off the arabic samosas whilst he explains some things that have happened in the city. You can see the wall on the edge of the city and nothing on the other side, it’s a weird sight.
He was telling me stories about what has happened along the wall but there’s one that I remember. We were stood nearby a UN school and he pointed to a guard tower that shot a 13-year-old child in the heart in the school in 2015. Why don’t you hear these things in the news? …you only hear about what the Palestinians have done.
We moved on and drove parallel to the wall for a few kilometers, past the gate that the pope blessed and to the Banksy. Graffiti doesn’t last forever and the Banksy piece is 8+ years old now. They have built an enclosure in front of one of the original which kind of spoils it. The lady said an American man offered them $500,000 for the part of the wall and they declined.
After seeing the wall, the driver; Alla dropped me off beside The Church of Nativity in the old city. At some point he did take me to a gift shop which was annoying but I ended up buying Palestine t-shirt for like £4.
Bethlehem is one of the most famous religious cities in the middle east. After getting some falafel for a fraction of the price it would have cost in Jerusalem, I went to see where Jesus was born. The nativity church must have a lot of significance for religious people. I just saw it as just another church. What was interesting though is there were Jews, Christians and Muslims all in the church.
Bethlehem is a small city so once I had seen the birthplace of Jesus and the walls, it was enough. I wanted to see another city before heading back into Israel and the man in the falafel shop suggested Ramallah.
Bethleham to Ramallah in a minibus avoided Jerusalem and went through the occupied west bank. Along the way the driver felt like he had to point out every illegal Israeli settlement; there’s a lot. At some point we pulled over, a passenger jumped out and offered to buy me a coffee. I refused but he still bought me one. Arabic coffee has anice or some spice in, it’s a weird taste.
Ramallah was so busy. On the outskirts of the city there were armored vehicles all over the place and it felt super sketchy. As the minibus got through all the traffic and into the center the city got more built up and the and even busier.
I jumped out the minivan and the streets were just full of people. Palestinians are must not be used to seeing a white man around there so everyone was staring. In China people stared, but in Rahallah everybody stared, but it felt like a different kind of stare. It was intimidating at first but as I walked about people just wanted to say hello. They just wanted to know why I was in Palestine, which city in the UK in was from and of course, which football team I support.
Ramallah was short-lived, after about 30 minutes the skies turned gray and it started to rain. I’m guessing it doesn’t rain much in the middle east because the locals were all cheering on the rain.
I took shelter, found the bus station on Google maps then went back to Jerusalem. Ramallah was crazy, one day I’ll go back to Palestine and see more of the country. It sucks that Israel keeps taking more land so I’ll have to return again soon.
I liked Palestine
Don’t listen to what you hear in the west, both sides cause problems. If people made a country on stolen land and took away your rights you wouldn’t be too happy either.
It was good to speak to Palestinians and get their opinion on things. Israelis in Jerusalem said Palestine is dangerous and how I should avoid it. I felt more welcome in Palestine than in Israel.
Go to Israel just to see Palestine.