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Location - Middle East; Capital - Ramallah; Population - 4 million; Currency - New Israeli Shekel MORE PALESTINE

If you're in Bethlehem, getting to Ramallah is easier if you return to Jerusalem, then hop on a bus opposite Damascus Gate - November 2014.


israelnote1The Israeli Shekel is the legal currency in the West Bank and Gaza, though US$, Jordanian Dinars and Egyptian Pounds (Gaza) may be accepted








palestine135Buses to Ramallah drive through the infamous Israeli-controlled Qalandia checkpoint. Qalandia refugee camp lies just after, heading north from Jerusalem

palestine136Palestinian flags draped around a monument as we pass through the outskirts of Ramallah


palestine138A Yasser Arafat flag overlooks Al-Manara Square, where four lions stand guard - Ramallah














palestine142Street art on a Ramallah street close to Al-Manara Square














palestine144As mentioned earlier, Ramallah is home to the Palestinian Authority headquarters (the PA control the city) and is the de facto capital. However Palestinians see this as a temporary measure, with the aim of Jerusalem becoming the capital of an independent State of Palestine


palestine147Palestinian flag monument in central Ramallah


palestine148Raising the Palestinian flag - Ramallah















palestine150Market stalls spill out on to the street - Ramallah














palestine151Corn on wheels in Ramallah. Lemon juice and salt is added to a tub of boiled sweetcorn for a cheap snack


palestine155The mausoleum of Yasser Arafat lies at al-Muqata, the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority - Ramallah


palestine158Yasser Arafat, former head of the PLO and Palestinian Authority, led Palestinians to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords with Israel. The peace process subsequently stalled and recriminations led to the Second Intifada in 2000.
Arafat died in 2004 following a mystery illness, having been confined to al-Muqata for over two years by the Israeli army - Ramallah













palestine162At Qalandia the question 'What 20 September?' is posed next to an image of Yasser Arafat. A reference to Israel's invasion of his compound on 20 September 2002, or the Arab League's decision to form a Government of All-Palestine in 1948?


palestine161The Separation Wall between Ramallah and Jerusalem, near Qalandia


palestine247My favourite Palestinian town is Jericho. The welcome sign driving in to the city states that Israelis are forbidden to enter. IDF forces patrolling nearby enforce the ruling













Under the Oslo II Accord of 1995, the West Bank is divided into three administrative areas – Zone A is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, Zone B is under the joint-control of the PA and Israel, while Zone C is under Israeli administration, where 350,000 Jewish settlers live. Israelis are forbidden to enter Zone A.


palestine248I'm guessing this guy is an important political/military figure in Palestine, outside the Tourist Office in the main square - Jericho














palestine244The Tree of Zacchaeus is said to be so old it's mentioned in the New Testament - Jericho


palestine163I join the throngs heading to Hisham's Palace - Jericho


palestine166Hisham's Palace was built as a winter retreat for the Umayyad caliphs in the 8th century, but was destroyed in an earthquake soon after completion - Jericho













palestine167In the central court is the Star Window - Jericho















palestine173Picking fruit, though I'm not sure what. Orange and pomegranate trees are taller so tomatoes maybe? Jericho


palestine171Hisham's Palace is famous for its beautiful - and well preserved - mosaics, including the Tree of Life (pictured) - Jericho


palestine183Jericho is a lush green area, benefiting from the mild winter temperatures experienced at 260m below sea level, as well as the springs feeding the rich soil - Jericho













palestine191The ruins of Tel es-Sultan are the remains of Jericho's original settlement some of which dates back to 8,500BC















palestine188View of Jericho from Tel es-Sultan (Sultan's Hill)


palestine192Ein es-Sultan Refugee Camp houses around 2,000 refugees as well as the city's poor. Refugee camps are dotted around the West Bank accommodating many refugees from the 1967 War - Jericho


palestine197It might not look much but the Tower of Jericho at Tel es-Sultan is a whopping 10,000 years old, one of the oldest man-made structures in the world. It forms part of the famed Wall of Jericho - Jericho













palestine195The various Tel es-Sultan sites date from 8,500BC to 1,500BC, with some Roman ruins (AD) added for good measure - Jericho













palestine201Palm trees and farmland in the fertile soils of Jericho


palestine184The spring waters of Ein es-Sultan (Sultan's Spring) provide much of Jericho's drinking water and irrigation supply


palestine205The cliffs that host Deir Quruntal - Jericho














palestine203A star attraction of Jericho is Deir Quruntal, or Monastery of the Temptation














palestine211A cable car station next to Ein es-Sultan lifts passengers 400m up to Deir Quruntal - Jericho


palestine213Deir Quruntal is a monastery built in the late 19th century on the Mount of Temptation, where the Devil attempted to lure Jesus into sinning - Jericho


palestine214It's a magnificent sight, perched precariously on the cliff - Jericho















palestine217There's superb views of Jericho from the clifftop near the monastery, where you can soak it all up with a drink at one of several restaurants














palestine224Jericho unfolds east to the Jordan Mountains and on to Jordan itself, only 8km away via the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge - Jericho


palestine226The monastery is built around the rock face - Jericho


palestine230Monks' cells line the cliff at Deir Quruntal - Jericho














palestine237A natural stone roof at Deir Quruntal - Jericho














palestine261It's only 15 minutes by taxi from Jericho to Kalya beach on the shores of the Dead Sea, a further 150m+ below sea level. There's several resorts on Palestine's Dead Sea coast but most are controlled by Israel


palestine268The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth at around 425metres below sea level. It's also one of the saltiest, hence the ability to float on water - Kalya, Dead Sea


palestine269The lake is divided between Palestine, Israel and Jordan (pictured) who all compete for water from the Jordan River, depleting its supply to the Dead Sea and causing the lake's reduction - Kalya, Dead Sea












palestine274A beautiful sunset at Kalya, Dead Sea















israel1068At its closest point Sderot is less than 1km from Gaza, earning it the name 'Bomb Shelter Capital of the World'. These are remnants of Hamas Qassam rockets at the police station's 'rocket museum', fired from Gaza - Sderot, Israel


israel1083When the Red Colour warning ('Tzeva Adom') is heard residents have less than 15 seconds to seek refuge before impact. Towns further away have a bit longer - Sderot, Israel


palestine306Another short drive from Sderot is the Gaza border crossing at Erez - Gaza














Gazans collect luggage from their bus and head for the border - Gaza














palestine302There's an Israeli soldier in the raised bunker on the left. In the 2014 Gaza War which Israel named Operation Protective Edge, over 2,200 people died, mainly Gazans. Though Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 it retains control of air and maritime space, border crossings as well as currency (the Israeli Shekel) - Gaza


palestine304Currently the border is closed to foreigners. It's also difficult for Gazans to obtain permission to enter Israel, usually only granted for emergency medical treatment; those with work permits; prison visits; UN/NGO staff etc - Gaza


palestine327The Nir Am viewpoint lies on the outskirts of Sderot next to Nir Am reservoir - Gaza


palestine326From Nir Am it's little more than 600m to the Gaza border and Beit Hanoun, pictured here - Gaza














palestine328The Asaf Siboni Memorial is dedicated to an IDF soldier killed in a helicopter accident - Nir Am, Sderot















palestine317Walking the streets in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza


palestine321In theory the Palestinian Authority, dominated by the PLO-affiliated Fatah party of which Mahmoud Abbas is a member, governs both the West Bank and Gaza. However, following fighting between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in 2007, Hamas seized control of the territory and ousted Fatah officials - Gaza



1.7 million people are packed into an area 360km² (less than the size of Andorra). Very few get the necessary permits to leave whether via Egypt or Israel - Gaza



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