It does not take long to arrive at the wall from Jerusalem. This huge wall that Israel built as a barrier to the West Bank.
If you take a closer look you can see the wall dividing the highway and working inland.
I still remember the 2003 announcement when I thought, oh, they can not do that. But they can. Completely finished, the barrier is still not, but it is still being built. And in the area between Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah there is already this huge monster. The Berlin Wall seems small against it.
We drove the wall along with Fred Schlomka from the Green Olive Tours. And what we would expect to see and learn, I would not have expected.
This concrete wall not only divides an area, it divides streets, it divides also Palestinian residential areas arbitrarily in the middle and it forms ghettos.
There are already three Palestinian neighborhoods in Greater Jerusalem that are completely enclosed by the Wall. I as a neutral person may enter both sides of the wall, come through barriers and back again. For Palestinians who had the fortuitous misfortune to live on the wrong side, not knowing which could be the right side, it's over with freedom of movement.
They may leave their walled neighborhood only with special permission that only the Israeli state can issue. Such a permit is given, for example, when working for an Israeli company in the West Bank. Right, there are Israeli companies in the West Bank. There are advantages to being located there - the cheap Palestinian workers. In Israel, on the other hand, there is a statutory minimum wage.
The West Bank does not belong
officially to Israel, and the Palestinians are also not Israeli citizens and are therefore not subject to Israeli civil laws. The permission to leave the ghetto is issued for the respective working days at the scheduled working hours. No more, because Palestinians have no business in Israeli territory.
Of course, we asked Israelis what they think about this wall. And yet, not a few welcome this barrier and feel safe since then. What seems completely absurd to me, because the wall is not finished and who wants to find enough passages without a wall and border posts to get to the Israeli side.
The wall may psychologically act as a protective barrier against terrorism, but it seems to me rather to form a physically concreted occupation line, through which Israel is slowly but steadily expanding its territory to the east. Because the wall runs to 80% through the West Bank and not on the border.
Directly on the wall between Jerusalem and Bethlehem is also a refugee camp (on the Palestinian side), that I would not have recognized as such, because it is not a provisionally built camp - is no more. The refugee camp AIDA exists since 1948/1950. And at some point the refugees started to build permanent dwellings.
The key symbolizing the right of return of the displaced Palestinians.
The controversial settlement policy of the Israeli government is also not to be overlooked. Partly we drive through finished, inhabited settlements in the middle of the West Bank, in the middle of the desert, which has a thriving vegetation and monotonous city structures.
Partly you see started construction sites or freshly staked new areas, far away from the Israeli border.