A Travellerspoint blog

Day 8- Hebron and Gush Etzion

Shalom everyone! Here are a few more pictures from yesterday!
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And, at the end of a long day...
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I am sitting in the lobby of our hotel writing this. Many of us walked down to Ben Yehuda Street this evening to go shopping. It is always a neat experience. I went briefly to the Old City to get some pictures of the walls at night. A light show was going on, so one entire wall of the Old City was lit up in different colors. It was so pretty. I was only able to capture one picture before my camera battery died.
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It has been a busy day again. I think everyone is beginning to feel the tiredness catching up. Most of us fell asleep on the long bus ride back to Jerusalem today.

We began the day at a community south of Jerusalem called Gush Etzion. The word Gush means “block” and refers to a group of towns and communities. The story of Gush Etzion is a sad one. It has fallen many times to enemy forces. During Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 Gush Etzion was the frontline defense for Jerusaelm against the Arab invaders from Jordan. It held out against fierce resistance for a short time with only a few defenders (Most of the women and children had been sent to Jerusalem) but in the end they ran out of ammunition. The Jordanian army killed all the men and blew up the bunker containing some women and the wounded. We viewed a movie presentation, which was recently redone, telling the story of some of the people’s lives. Many of them were holocaust survivors. The showing was so emotional that most of us were literally sobbing by the end. I did not have any pictures taken…it seemed sacreligious to do so. Once more it is an example of how much courage the people of Israel possess inside them…and their faith.

On our way back this evening we picked up three boys that were hitchhiking to a community about half an hour away. Many people, including young girls, hitchhike through Israel. It is rare for there to be a challenge with it here. One of the boys spoke fluent English so I struck up a conversation with him. He was about 16 years old and lives in a community in Gush Etzion. He personally has been stoned by Arabs several times, had rocks thrown at him. Once a Palestinian man ran at him with a knife. He managed to get away. I asked him if it made him afraid. He said at the time it was a little scary, but it just makes them stronger. He said that they do not let the fear get to them, because that is what the enemy wants them to do. So when things do happen it only forges a deeper commitment to God and to their purpose in the Land. We saw an archaeological site of a town that was in the place during Biblical times, containing a wine press.
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We saw the community's synagogue, a beautiful building.
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After we saw Gush Etzion we headed to Kiryat Arba, the Jewish community outside of Hebron. Then we visited the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron, which is the place Abraham purchased to bury Sarah. There is a building built over the cave now, but in the cave itself human bones were discovered as well as jars from the time of Abraham. It is belieed that Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah are buried there. Only the tombs of Abraham and Sarah are accessable to JEwish people, The other two are sealed off for the Muslims to use, as they try to claim it is a holy site to them also.

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From there we walked down a mostly deserted street to Hebron’s synagogue. They are a community of 2500 Jewish people literally surrounded by 150,000 Muslims. There have been multiple terrorist attacks against the Jewish population. With it being Ramadan and having several attacks happen in Israel this week already, the police presence was greatly increased in the area.
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We saw the ruins of ancient Hebron, some layers of buildings and steps dating back 5,000 years. Abraham would likely have walked on those steps.
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The last community we visited today was called Otniel, after a biblical man. This small community of about 150 families has experienced unimaginable pain. Considering the fact that everyone knows everyone and it is like one big family, when one person dies everyone hurts. A young mother was killed in an attack when a terrorist from a neighboring Palestinian village jumped over their fence and stabbed her in her yard, in front of her two children. She fought him off to protect the children, and they were able to get away. But she sadly did not make it. Another case was a young man driving his car between communities…he was shot and killed.

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We drove along the portion on the road from Jerusalem to Hebron where there is a security fence. The news media likes to show it as Israeli apartheid, that they are putting a wall of separation between them and the Palestinians. But this is not the case at all. In the areas where there is a wall as seen below, it is there to prevent terrorists from shooting at cars dricing down the highway. That was happening before the wall was there.
In America we have walls around communities (gated communitions) and barriers to prevent sound from reaching the people of teh community. Here it is to prevent peole from being killed.
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Israel is a land full of diversity and acceptance. However, they are fighting a battle against a side that does not share the same value for life and freedom and rights as they do. This becomes more apparent as you walk around and meet the people of the communities, the same ones who are portrayed as evil people who steal land from the poor Palestinians. This couldn't be further from the truth. The truth is that there are no Jewish communities with signs stating that it is dangerous for Palestinians to enter their town. However, nearly every Palestinian town we passed on the road had red signs saying it was dangerous to the lives of Israelis to enter. So which side is showing apartheid?

Today we are going to sites around Jerusalem before we have our farewell dinner here at the hotel tonight. Shalom from Jerusalem!

Posted by Jordan Long 13:37 Archived in Israel

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