Archive for the 'Middle East' Category

Facts on the ground

 I am filming Angela Godfrey-Goldstein while she is explaining.


War 2, Nablus

I mentioned that it appeared to be more than normal military traffic in and out of Nablus last week. The people there are used to military activities more or less daily and especially in the night, but it was more than usual the last week. In our program we don’t approach the refugee camps while the military is there. However, today, a few days after it has calmed down a bit, we found our way to get an impression of what has gone on there. See video:

Someone else was braver and recorded some of it when it actually happened. After 27 of 64 seconds, or the freeze picture before the start, in the video below a glimpse of the demolition in the video above is shown.

Then compare the machine with that one shown under the heading “War” below and I have the pleasure of stating: “I was right” (“You don’t want this one in your garden”. A check of the dates shows that the machine shown under “War” was on its way to someone else)


Sometimes it is obvious that this is a war and not only slowly degeneration. This is mostly through the media which tells about military raids in the refugee camps in the night, curfews, soldiers being captured or targeted by gunshot, rockets etc. Thursday was a day the machinery around this was very visible for us. On the check point it was heavy traffic with military vehicles. Jeeps, armored vehicles and also a power shovel.

Israeli Power Shovel

You don’t want this one in your garden. Read more about those who get visits like this at The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions or click here to look how it was when a identical machine were on duty in a town nearby a few weeks ago.

Inside one of the armored vehicles traveling into Nablus there were blindfolded persons, probably prisoners that were going to be set free. A couple of minutes earlier a big bus with partly opaque windows left the same city. It also contained blindfolded persons. The bus was accompanied with military vehicles with well equipped soldiers; among other special things they were wearing knee pads.

Parallel to this and stories about gunfire and bombardment in and towards the refugee camp in Nablus, the life goes on: Small but slow traffic out of the biggest city of the West Bank.

Beit Iba

This truck was number 20 in the queue when it arrived the check point. The photo is taken 1 hour and 45 minutes later at the moment it is number one in the queue


Israel and Palestine is a world of contrasts. It is also a world of information. Many people are coming here to explore. The problem is that many aren’t addressing attention to the same issues as me…

It is easy to get full of prejudice when coming from the hard life on the West Bank visiting the tourist circus in Israel. I get suspicious when tourist groups with identification costumes more remarkable than our vests are guided through stories more than 1000 years old. Does the guide tell about what happened in this neighborhood the last 60 years as our guide did? Do they have any idea about the situation in the Palestinian areas? Do they know anything about the status in this system of the guy selling ice cream outside the resort?


The yellow hats watching the Dead Sea Scrolls 

Last Friday it was my turn to be the tourist and visit places on the ticket coupon of the Israeli tourist ministry. The first Friday of Ramadan. Do these people know what Ramadan is? Do they know that no Palestinian living on the West Bank is let through the barrier today?

Anyway, from my hotel in Betlehem it was impossible for me to avoid recognizing the last mentioned. Last time I approached the wall between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the morning I did it together with approximately 2000 persons from Bethlehem traveling to Jerusalem in order to make use of their work permits there. This morning I was alone. Numbers of police and militaries kept the people around 100 meters away from the entrance. Mainly old people that wanted to look for an opportunity to go to the al-Aqsa mosque to pray this holy day.

I experienced this, and may be the other guest at the hotel too. The tourist industry is not booming neither in Bethlehem nor other places on the West Bank. The exception is the Dead Sea where some Israel tourist resorts have been built up and were there aren’t check points in the way worth mentioning.

We visited Qumran which is the place the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. After this we visited Masada, an old Roman fort. Read more on Wikipedia or somewhere else. Quit interesting stories.


View from Masada

I traveled with a german group and was in the car with a guy working as an water engineer in Gaza. He has traveled around the world dealing with water issues. In spite of this knowledge of water; He is also the man that dived into the Dead Sea the first time he was there. Considering the pain caused by the one and only droplet that entered my eye there I am glad he is still alive.

A t-shirt I didn’t buy

Heart from Jenin

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. (Luc 17, 12 to 14).

The healed people

One of the pictures in the church

Yesterday we were in the church that is build where these people were living. Situated close to the city of Jenin it is a little bit outside the ordinary routine for tourists and pilgrims in this country.

It is Ismael that took is there. We come to Jenin in order to visit him, not forgotten tourist attractions. He lives in the renovated part of the refugee camp. The part which was bombed in 2002. In spite of this the bullet marks are already there on the buildings; Israeli soldiers are doing raids here during the night several times a week. Ismael tells that a boy called Mohammed was shoot in the stomach by a soldier the previous day.

Mohammed survived. Ahmed, Mohammed’s friend and Ismale’s son, didn’t when he was shoot two years ago. He was targeted and shoot by a soldier from 130 meters while playing with a tool gun. The family choose a different way after he was killed. One of Ismael’s brothers was sick and needed organs. They decided to donate Ahmed’s organs to people in need. After this Ismael has been a peace activist and traveled around to do speeches and he has build up a peace centre in Jenin.

The Khatib family

The Khatib family 

On the tomb it is written: “I am Ahmed from Jenin. I was killed while playing.

In the following Ismael has maintained the contact with those getting organs from Ahmed’s body. Among them there are four Israelis. They are of course thankful and their parents have promised to try to convince them to refuse to join the army. Ismael hopes that these and other children shall contribute to build bridges between the people in the area.

Not everyone appreciates the speeches Ismael does. One month ago he was in Israel to talk. After this he reckon that he has been but on the black list of the military and he is not allowed into Israel any more. For security reasons. This also means that he will face problems on check points situated within the West Bank. He tells that he will walk in the terrain in order to bypass the check points if he wants to go to the neighbor city Nablus.

A German TV team has followed the family for a while now. The title of the movie they are making is “Heart from Jenin”. Probably recommendable when it comes.


Now we have traveled around a bit in Israel. We have visited the Holocaust museum, some settlers and some Palestine Israelis (or whatever the people that didn’t flee in 1948 and their descendants should be called). A short summary: all of it was interesting; none of it gave optimism for the future.

We also visited Haifa and Nazareth.

The beach in Haifa 

The beach in Haifa. The water was warm, the lifeguards were dull.

 The home of Jesus

 Jesus home in Nazareth. They neglected the nearby IKEA.


Today we went to Nablus and had a meeting with the UN. Nablus is the biggest city of the West Bank and is situated nicely between a couple of mountains and hills. One if the differences compared to similar Norwegian cities are the settlements and the military installations on these hills and mountains. Because of a funeral march of a man killed by the Israeli army, and because such marches have a component of frustration that might have an unpredictable outcome our Jerusalem office told us to go straight to the meeting and return immediately afterwards. No sightseeing today in other words.


Nablus seen from the street of the UN office 

Did you know that Nablus is a twin city of my hometown Stavanger? One of the outcomes is that some of the CO2 emissions from Stavanger are supposed to be compensated by planting trees in Nablus. It is a little bit rare to think of such ideas when the overwhelming problem is: This occupation ruins the life of every single inhabitant of this city. However, as all other places people want to have normal life with normal problems, so why not.

It is not only Stavanger that tries to renew its image. On the road between Nablus and Tulkarem there has been reconstruction activity on one of the two permanent check points the last week. From appearing as a temporary construction it will soon be shifted towards an institution like terminal as those surrounding Jerusalem according to our friends in the UN. This happen at the same time as the statements from the diplomat and state leader level are about closing down check points.

Beit Iba Check Point

Reconstruction at Beit Iba Check Point

Nablus, a breeding ground of terrorism? Yes, for sure. However, the Israeli army can do as many raids as they want after “wanted men” in the cities of the West Bank and Gaza. The situation is designed to drift people towards resignation & depression. And since Palestine population isn’t extraordinary pacifistic or patient it is unstoppable that some people are turning to fatalists. Given the militaristic attitude the answer will be terrorism in some cases. At the same time things that is interpreted as fake negations on the top the majority are asking themselves: What to do?

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