70 Years of Israel - Hebron Reflections
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|70 years of Israel - for better and for worse|
Today marks the 70-years anniversary of the state of Israel. It may be the right time to reflect. The USA has opened their new embassy in Jerusalem, the situation on the Gaza Strip has reached unacceptable levels and on a lighter note, Israel has just won the Eurovision Song Contest. The latter is interesting as it means Israel will host the contest next year. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already taken the opportunity to make politics out of it by saying it will be held in Jerusalem.
Why is that so controversial?
The same year Israel was established, the UN made an agreement with Israel and Palestine to make Jerusalem a city in international territory. This came to an end when Israel occupied the city in 1967 and has done since.
I want to point out that both Palestinians and Israelis need to be respectful of their claims. Right now, Palestine has authorities who want to eliminate Israel. This also goes for a few of the other countries in the region. So I understand why Israel needs to defend themselves. And I understand their land claims in their holy cities. Hebron is regarded as the second holiest city for Jews, after Jerusalem. In Islam, it's one of the four holy cities. So access to this city is very important for both.
I visited Hebron earlier this year, the only city which is still divided into a Palestinian and an Israeli-administered sector. I arrived the Palestinian sector in the morning, by minibus from Bethlehem. It was a city full of life. I heard cars honking, people having a laugh and I saw fruit stalls in all directions. After walking for a while through the narrow streets, suddenly I came to a passage where all shops were closed down. Then I passed through a checkpoint, like a security scan at the airport.
Without really knowing it, I had entered the Israeli sector of the city. Here the streets were almost empty, and there were Israeli checkpoints on every corner. An extreme contrast to the other sector. I had to stop and show my passport several times.
The picture shows a large group of Palestinians at a graveyard. It didn't take long before the Israeli Defence Forces walked over to them and made them split up.
I very well understand why Israel claims the territory. However, the situation for the Palestinians living in the Israeli sector is unacceptable. As it appears to me, this is nothing less than an occupation. Most shops in this sector have been closed down for "security reasons".
It seems to me, access to holy sites is essential when trying to establish peace in the region. I hope both authorities show more respect for each other's claims. And I hope the UN manages to establish an international zone in Jerusalem. It seems far-fetched at the moment, but if there's one region familiar with miracles, it's this one. Donald Trumps decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem is a big step in the wrong direction. I wish Israel good luck with their next 70 years and I wish for peace to everyone living in areas claimed by Israel.
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Facts that you had not mentioned: Since 1917 and later in 1948, the Arab countries and than the Palestinians leaders did not accept and missed every appeal for peace and every opportunity for any settlement of the situation - chosen the road to terror. Even in recent days, Palestinian's Mr. Abas, the president, denied the holocaust and blame the Jews living in Europe for the cause of WW2.
As for the Gaza strip: Israel had left there in 2005, has no occupied single post there and yet - the Khamas regime taken every cement-bag to built attack-tunnels instead of schools and hospitals, built rockets and placing young people as a human-shield ahead of their terror groups at the border, not giving any future nor hope to them. At same time, Israel providing electricity, work places, allow health-care entry to Israel's (crowded) hospitals and those hoodlums in return burned-down the only merchandise-depot last Friday.
And Fredrick, what do you know about the feel of flying rockets above your home, or buses exploding in city streets ?
With your regard as a mistake "big step in the wrong direction" - just as Oslo is the capital of Norway, and the US-Embassy is there, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, despite the refusal to acknowledge this fact.
If you would contact me ahead of your Israel trip - I'd show you the real Israel.
By the way - I never been to Hebron.
*** P. S.
The solidiers had not wear helmets, rifles on idle and hands were in their pockets - no sign of aggression from their side.
A sad reality of humanity. These two peoples both have claims to the Holiest city in the world. As a Christian I choose to watch from afar. Our belief is opposite of theirs. But I do sympathize with our friends the people of Israel. By the same token I have friends from Gaza here in America. God we believe will one day sort this out. Until then, this will continue to be the most contested pieces of Real Estate ever known. Nice image of reality from a bystander and not the crooked press.
Well done for uploading this photo and raising the issues.
I'm considering visiting the Occupied Territories sometime soon and am busy reading books on the history and daily life of that region. In comparison your note seems very objective and written with great sensitivity. It's a shame people still find it offensive but it is the kind of subject that always causes controversy, either way. I hope this experience will not put you off sharing your photos and stories on TE.