Wednesday, February 19, 2003

ABC News says "Israel to split Christ's birthplace with barrier". Actually, the security wall will project into Bethlehem around 500 meters (map here).

The reports on this in Jpost/Haaretz have already disappeared - which is an indication of how in Israel this was not regarded as a major event..

I'm fairly certain that I was once in the area that will be on the Israeli side of the fence. Two friends and I were on our way driving to the Herodian palace. One moment we were in Jerusalem; the next moment we were clearly in an Arab village. After driving about 100 meters or so we reached the IDF checkpoint at the edge of then-autonomous Bethlehem, where a soldier asked us if we were on our way to Rachel's tomb.

The rest of that (Oslo-era) day was also fairly unique: after we u-turned and eventually visited the Herodian palace, we began speaking to a couple who invited the 3 of us to come with them to the Haritun cave adjacent to Tekoa (and later on the site of a terrorist murder). Our new friends had maps as well as a handgun with them and spoke Arabic. The maps were outdated, so we soon were walking into the edge of Arab Tekoa. In a scene reminiscent of intifada footage, a group of 6-7 young men began to approach us. But our friend asked them (in Arabic) for directions to the cave and on we went down a hill. Then we passed a tent made from flour bags at the edge of the village, where an old woman insisted that we come in for tea. So we did.

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