A Visit to Palestine

Here are the top places to visit and things to do in Palestine

Bethlehem is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism. The first historical reference to the town appears in the Amarna Letters (c. 1400 BC) when the King of Jerusalem appeals to his overlord, the King of Egypt, for help in retaking "Bit-Lahmi" in the wake of disturbances by the Apiru. It is thought that the similarity of this name to its modern forms indicates that this was a settlement of Canaanites who shared a Semitic cultural and linguistic heritage with the later arrivals. It is popular to travellers because of the Church of the Nativity, Manger Square which undoubtedly is the top attraction in Bethlehem, a veritable citadel built fortress-like on top of the cave where Jesus was allegedly born to Mary.

East Jerusalem
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the western part of Jerusalem was captured by Israel, while East Jerusalem (including the Old City) was captured by Jordan. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War came to an end with the signing of the 1949 Armistice Agreements. It is home to the Kan Zman Jerusalem Hotel, American Colony Hotel and Shababeek Restaurant.

Judean Desert  
Judean Desert is a geographical region in central and southern West Bank, with a part in the eastern edge of south-central Israel. It stretches from the northeastern Negev to the east of Beit El, and is marked by terraces with escarpments. It ends in a steep escarpment dropping to the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley. It is known for famous places such as the Masada, herodion, Ein Gedi, Ein Bokek, Jericho, Dead Sea and Qumran.

Dead Sea
Dead Sea is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are 423 metres (1,388 ft) below sea level, Earth's lowest elevation on land. The Dead Sea is 377 m (1,237 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years. Biblically, it was a place of refuge for King David.
Hebron is located in the southern West Bank, 30 km (19 mi) south of Jerusalem. Archaeological excavations reveal traces of strong fortifications dated to the Early Bronze Age. The city was destroyed in a conflagration, and resettled in the late Middle Bronze Age. Hebron was originally a Canaanite royal city. Earlier, in Abraham's day, the city is said to be under Hittite control. Hebron is a busy hub of West Bank trade, responsible for roughly a third of the area's gross domestic product, largely due to the sale of marble from quarries. It is locally well known for its grapes, figs, limestone, pottery workshops and glassblowing factories, and is the location of the major dairy product manufacturer, al-Junaidi. The old city of Hebron is characterized by narrow, winding streets, flat-roofed stone houses, and old bazaars. Hebron is famous for the Tomb of the Patriarchs, is the main religious site in the city. The cave, where the Patriarchs and their wives are buried is deep underground, and now people pray in a building on top of it, which was built by King Herod about 2000 years ago.

Gaza is the largest city in the Palestinian territories. Settlement in the region of Gaza dates back to Tell es-Sakan, an Ancient Egyptian fortress built in Canaanite territory to the south of present-day Gaza. The site went into decline throughout the Early Bronze Age II as its trade with Egypt sharply decreased. Another urban centre known as Tell al-Ajjul began to grow along the Wadi Ghazza riverbed. During the Middle Bronze Age, a revived Tell es-Sakan became the southernmost locality in Canaan, serving as a fort. The primary economic activities of Gaza are small-scale industries, agriculture and labor. However, the economy has been devastated by the blockade and recurring conflicts. The Great Mosque, makes up for its lacklustre appearance with an interesting history: it's a converted Crusader church built on the site of a Hellenic temple with pillars from a 3rd-century Jewish synagogue.

Jenin is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank. It is built on the ruins of the Canaanite city of Ayn Jenim. Four terracotta lamps of Phoenician origin dated to the 8th century BCE were discovered in Ain Jenin by archaeologist G. I. Harding, and are interpreted as attesting to some form of contact and exchange between the residents of Jenin at that time and those of Phoenicia. It serves as the administrative center of the Jenin Governorate and is a major agricultural center for the surrounding towns. Umm Al Rihan forest is located at the extreme northwest of Jenin. It consists of a series of dense forests which are estimated to be ca. 60,000 dunums. The forest areas around Jenin are considered to be the largest woodlands in the West Bank forming approximately 86% of the forests.

Nablus is located in the Central Highlands of the West Bank, some 63 km north of Jerusalem. Nablus was a central flashpoint of violence between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian militant groups. The level of violence dramatically increased from 2000 at the start of the Second Intifada. The city and the refugee camps of Balata and Askar constituted the center of "knowhow" for the production and operation of the rockets in the West Bank. The Old City of Nablus is a charming area filled with winding narrow streets and small shops selling all kinds of foods, clothing, and trinkets. Simply enter the alleyways leading into it nearby the massive parking garage in the center of town, and wander around until you recognize every street.

Jericho is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. By 659 that province had come under the control of Mu'awiya, founder of the Umayyads as a dynasty. That year, an earthquake struck Jericho and destroyed nearly all of it. A decade later the pilgrim Arculf visited Jericho and found it a ruin, all its "miserable Canaanite" inhabitants now dispersed in shantytowns around the Dead Sea shore. Jericho is home to the Tell es-Sultan (ancient Jericho). This site is the center of archaeological digs in Jericho. It is the location of the ancient Jericho of the Biblical times and is located some 2 km north-west of the modern city centre, overlooking the natural spring of Ein Sultan.

Ramallah is a small city in the Palestinian Territories, located within the West Bank region, some 15 km (10 miles) north of Jerusalem.  Modern Ramallah was founded in the mid-16th century by the Haddadins, a Jordanian tribe of brothers descended from Ghassanid Christian Arabs. The Haddadins, led by Rashid Haddadin, arrived from east of the Jordan River near the Jordanian town of Shoubak. Ramallah was historically a Christian town, but today Muslims form the majority of the population, with a strong Christian minority.


Jack Hazut said...

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Jack Hazut
Photos from Israel and the world


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