Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bethlehem & Hebron

Yesterday morning we found ourselves in Hebron, a city with a very tense relationship between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. We wandered the market, bought keffiyehs made at the only remaining factory in the West Bank, surveyed the city from the rooftops, and visited the Tomb of Abraham (from the Jewish section, since the Muslim section is closed to tourists on Fridays).

In the afternoon we made our way to Bethlehem. After a relaxed lunch of various mezze, we headed to the Church of the Nativity in downtown Bethlehem. After touring the old church, the new Catholic church, and the grotto beneath, I met up with some local friends and headed home for a much-needed relaxing evening.

Today I took a quick trip through the security checkpoint and headed to Jerusalem for the morning, only to discover that the Dome of the Rock is not only closed to the public on Fridays and Muslim holidays - as I had been told - but on Saturdays as well. For the second time, I wasn't able to enter the Temple Mount.

Once I had made my way back to Bethlehem, we had lunch, ran into some friends we'd met in Hebron, and visited Shepherd's Field, the location where the Star of Bethlehem reportedly appeared in the sky the night that Christ was born.

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