In January I spent a week in Tel Aviv, and I went on a day trip to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Bethlehem used to be a part of Israel, but from 1995 the city has been under Palestinian control. As our Israeli guide said; “I have been to Bethlehem more than 1000 times, but now I am not even allowed to guide you there”. Personally I do not know a lot about the conflict between Israel and Palestine and I do not want to get all political here – but everything seemed so strange and complicated.
When we drove from Israel to Bethlehem, we had to pass the walls Israel has built between them and Palestine. I have always known about the walls between the countries, but I had never imagined how big they are. When I saw the walls, I realized how bad the situation between the countries is. In the picture of me standing in front of the wall, I feel so small – you can barely see me! Not a surprise considering the wall is up to 8 meters tall – and nearly 700 kilometers long.
In Bethlehem we went to The Church of Nativity, where we were supposed to see the place where Jesus was born, but the line was way too long. Instead, we chose to spend our time walking around in Bethlehem’s alleys and souqs. It was so strange – we were only one hour from Tel Aviv, but still it felt like a completely different world! Israel is quite “western” and it is a very rich country compared to Palestine. In Bethlehem, people are poor and the streets were messy and dirty; but the place still has its own charm. Tel Aviv’s clean and wide streets felt so far away. I did not have many hours in Bethlehem and there are not that many attractions in the city, but I am happy I got to visit Bethlehem and observe the differences between Israel and Palestine. Bethlehem is a charming city, despite its problems and poverty, and if you are in Israel you should make sure to visit Palestine for a day or two.
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