Return to the West Bank

These stories constitute repetitive ‘flashpoints’ portrayed to an audience, desensitised by the all too familiar scenes of a distant and ‘chaotic’ Middle East with its seemingly intractable conflicts. In isolation, such representations fail to highlight their origin within broader socio-political structures which have simultaneously facilitated ongoing territorial encroachment as well as the obliteration of some of the more quintessential aspects and intimate spaces of the Palestinian landscape.

Bethlehem to Nablus: Journey through the Occupation

Driving in the West Bank is a complicated affair. Firstly, because of the political situation; Secondly, because of poor quality roads and signage; thirdly because for us Westerners, especially those used to driving on the left hand side of the road, the “road rules” are hard to manage, particularly when there seems to be an understanding between all animals, people and vehicles on the road that the pushiest and most reckless gets right of way, and there are no such thing as lanes of traffic, indicators or common courtesy. The horn is your friend on the roads of the West Bank. Use it well.

Arrival in the West Bank

The atmosphere in the West Bank, is considerably less tense than when I was last here. Understandable considering the amount of deaths that had just occurred as part of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” which took place in December and January of last year. Today, coach loads of tourists pass from hotels in Bethlehem, through the check-point and back into Israel, and shops and traders carry about their business. You could almost be forgiven for taking the seemingly bustling streets of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour as an indication of calm and security in this small area of the West Bank, but the little indications of what lies beneath are everywhere.