Old City of Hebron – Hebron

There are a number of Israeli settlements around and within Hebron (Hevron in Hebrew). We took a (bulletproof) bus to the Israeli settlement from Hebron to visit the Cave of the Patriarchs, but the fact that the Cave of the Patriarchs is under Israeli control meant that we had to cross a checkpoint to reach the Hebron Old City. The moment we reached the gate local (young) Palestinians began to talk to us and tell us about their lives in the West Bank. This happens a lot in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: local teenagers give you a tour (usually not giving you a chance to decline) and end up trying to charge you a lot for it. As we tried to push ourselves towards the bus station we found ourselves being led around the Old City. Many of the shops near Israeli settlements within the Old City are permanently closed (2-4, 11-12) and the merchants resort to selling their goods on tables on the streets. We passed by a small outdoor market selling Arab pastries (6-10) that were delicious. For 2 NIS (about 60 cents) I got a bag of some kind of dough fried with honey or something else just as sweet (9,10) (I had already tried everything else). These are great but like baklava, you can only eat so much before the sugar saturates your tongue.

Before we could finish our pastries we were ushered past the shops and invited into a man’s house (13, 14), where we were offered tea and coffee. The seven of us sat uneasily on the couch as the man and two teenagers put in a DVD of Israeli soldiers wrestling with a Palestinian riot to set the mood. They started to tell us about the violence they witness every day. But there were two things in the house that immediately caught my attention, the first being a portrait of Saddam Hussein above the hall (when they asked I told them I was Chinese, and then was complimented on my accent-less English), and the second being a number of small bags and purses hanging on a white wall that looked oddly like a gift shop. As our hosts continued talking we looked at each other knowing what was coming next. As the man wrapped up his story about how he was shot and still had a bullet in his heart, he gestured at the wall and asked us to buy $20 bags.

After one of us finally took one for the team (bargaining the price down to $15), we continued to the bus station, still being led by the two teenagers. They took us through a street below an Israeli settlement (15-18) that was covered with litter on the mesh roof, which they told us was thrown there by the settlers. We finally made our way to the bus station where we hopped on the first sherut we could find, but not before the two teenagers asked for money (and after we gave them some demanded more).

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~ by jonathanmtsai on February 27, 2011.

One Response to “Old City of Hebron – Hebron”

  1. that’s a lot of pancakes….

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