Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Jordan River Valley and Jerusalem

We followed the Jordan River south through the West Bank, which for the Israelis is geographically known as Area C. The West Bank is divided into three areas: A, B, and C. Area C is is policed/maintained by Israel, and is the location of most of the settlements. Area B has some Israeli presence, but is mostly Palestinian. Area A are the cities such as Ramallah, Hebron, Jenin, Jericho, and even Bethlehem. There is no Israeli presence in these cities, and it is actually against the law for an Israeli to enter these areas. They may get in, but there is no one to get them out. So our bus went south, through Area C, and across the valley, we could see the hills of Jordan.

As we left the lower Galilee, we went through a check point...because we were on an Israeli tour bus, with Israeli plates, there was no problem...we just went through the check point. We could see a chain link fence and Jordanian watch towers.
The Jordan River valley is full of crops, little villages, it looked very peaceful.
A little know fact is that Israel provides electricity and water for the West Bank. The West Bank is supposed to pay for it, but they don't, so Israel writes off about 15 million a year. Israel also provides their medical care, free...they won't refuse a sick person at the border. More about this later.
These date trees belong to a kibbutz. We would see acres and acres of dates...and boy were they good, they would just melt in your mouth.
As we approached the Judean Hills, the geography changed to limestone desert hills. The hills have a striated pattern, because the water flows under them, pushing up the limestone.
We saw bedouin villages...they still move around, but not with tents, they're more permanent now. There were sheep on the hills, an occaisonal camel.
Jericho off in the distance.
As we approached Jersusalem, a controversial outside of the city settlement. Housing is so expensive in the cities and Israel proper, people can get more for their money in a settlement.
Then our first view of the concrete wall that separates Jerusalem from the West Bank. Rather sobering sight. The electric fence doesn't cause injury, just lets them know if the fence has been touched.
An Arab village on the other side of the wall.
And then our first view of Jerusalem...more later!



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