Sunday, 9 November 2008

Israel & The Palestinian Territories

I went to Israel on holiday, but ended up spending most of my time in the West Bank - Palestine, on the other side of the wall.
I am desperate to go back to a place that seems to be the centre of the world, full of so many contrasts but with one common theme; everyone I met there had something special about them. From the Yemenite who led me round the Tel Aviv markets, the Arab who drove me hundreds of kilometres just to show me the most desolate and beautiful parts of his homeland, to the teens who invited me into their home for tea in Hebron, and many many others, I will think of them long after my return.

The winding walls of Jerusalem's Old City

Young boy reads a section of the Torah
Following in the footsteps of Christ near Via Dolorosa

Soldiers in front of mosque

Precious stones for sale in the Muslim Quarter

Oh-so popular pomegranate juice
Sisters pray by candlelight

Palestinian women

Near the Armenian Quarter

I spent a car journey with a woman as old as this, and she was friendlier than any Londonder I have ever met!

Kilos of Halwa

Soldier admires the view of the Old City

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Market scene

Jewish man walks through the Old City after dark Bedouin settlement on the road to Jordan

The grave of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah

Prayers are inserted into the cracks of the Western Wall

The Wailing Wall during Shabbat

Jericho, the oldest and lowest city in the world. Some 10 000 years old and 260 metres below sea level
Israeli flag in Tel Aviv

Spices in the street

Deep in prayer

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

The Old City by night

Olives at Mahane Yehuda market, Jerusalem

Monastery perching in rock face of the mountain of Temptation, Jericho

Kippas sit next to mangoes at the market

The 13th station of the cross, where Jesus was removed from the cross and placed in the arms of his mother, Church of the Holy Sepulture

The Dome of the Rock, the third most important mosque in the world after Mecca and Medina

When driving through the Judean desert, where Jesus spent forty days and forty night, we stumbled across a lone tree. No life for miles around, except this green wonder

The birthplace of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem

A common scene in the old city, the arabic houses are decorated in the colours of the Palestinian flag, to indicate the completion of a pilgrimage to Mecca. My Palestinian friends all lived in houses and alleyways painted in this way.

After all the travels that my camera had completed with me, we finally parted. It just wasn't meant to be!
I am still fairly sore over my loss and bad luck, but consider myself far luckier to have saw Palestine through my own eyes with the help of so many friendly locals, and my memories are not tarred. The images of the Dead Sea, Massada, old men smoking Nargileh, political graffiti, children playing on carts in the Old City, etc, will have to remain in my head.
To make up for the 700 missing photos, I have lifted some from the net of the places and types of people I came across, sorry to the real owners, but I swear mine were better!!!
I hope that whoever has my trusted Sony camera will enjoy the pictures it takes as much as I did.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The Writing On The Wall

The apartheid wall, Israel on one side, Palestine on the other.

Banksy specials in Bethlehem.

The mural below is huge and he put his life at serious risk during the fighting of 2004 to paint this on the segregation wall.

Five fingers of the same hand, this picture is on the Palestinian side of the Bethlehem checkpoint. Palestinians require a palm print, a permit and identification to pass. A quick flash of my British passport was all I needed to get through. No questions, no finger prints.

I met Palestinians who used to have a 5 minute journey to the the home of a brother. It now takes at least one to two hours to arrive depending on the queues at the checkpoint. One man I spoke to at a checkpoint was queuing at 8pm in the evening in order to sleep at work ready for the morning. He said that the Sunday morning queues meant that he would never arrive on time.

More work by Banksy who met an old Palestinian man while working:
Old man: You paint the wall, you make it look beautiful.
Banksy: Thanks.
Old man: We don't want it to be beautiful, we hate this wall, go home.

On the other side of the wall, this painter below had written in German "I come from Berlin"

I thought the Great Wall of China was moving, this will reduce you to tears.