As-salamu alaykum from Al-Khalil (Hebron)! A few days ago I took a bus from Tel Aviv, Israel to Ramallah, Palestine. And today I arrived to Al-Khalil from Ramallah.
Arabic: Peace be upon you
Shortly after I arrived to Ramallah (after escaping the taxi cabs' persistent attempts to get me to go somewhere, anywhere with them), I sat down in the sun to eat before meeting a friend. As a white man with dreadlocks and a tiny pink bicycle, I'm always something of a spectacle, but I was immediately amazed at how friendly & hospitable people were to me--more so than in Israel.
As I was eating my lunch, a man young came up to me. He only knew a handful of english words. I offered him some food, but he refused. Instead, he just sat next to me, smiling. Ramallah is in the mountains, and it can get quite cold on an overcast day in Winter. The man took off his gloves and tried to give them to me. My hands were visibly cold, but I had to profusely refuse as I already had a pair of gloves buried in my backpack. He continued to sit by me for 20 minutes, offering me wifi or whatever he could. Eventually he said "money, money, money" over-and-over. My first thought was that he was begging for money, but--after another friendly Palestinian said hello to me, he informed me that the man was asking if I needed money. What kindness of strangers!
We passed Palestinian homes...the soldiers had welded shut the front doors and settler's graffiti tagged them with stars of David--ironically & ashamedly reminiscent of swastikas.
Today I took a long, windy road from Ramallah to Al-Khalil. I was very motion sick, and the cab was full of the driver's tobacco smoke. We wandered through the old city passing heavily-armed military and riot police. Many people told me that, if I wanted to understand life under the Occupation, Al-Khalil was the place to see it.
We saw a procession of settlers on a tour through the old city--an area that's designated as H1, controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and where settlers & Israeli military shouldn't be--but that's life under Occupation..
The markets in the old city have the now-commonplace wire mesh protection above--placed there to protect the shops from the trash thrown by the Israeli settlers living above. Still, the settlers throw bleach & urine down on the Palestinians below.
As we walked around, we passed Palestinian homes juxtaposed to Israeli ones. Many of the Palestinian homes were vandalized. On the infamous Shuhada street, the soldiers had welded shut the front doors of their shops & homes. And settler's graffiti tagged them with stars of David--ironically & ashamedly reminiscent of swastikas.