On Tuesday some of our group went by regular bus to Nablus. This used to be nearly impossible, but it is one of the few ways life is a little easier, like being able to move between prisons. They visited the Old Market and other historical sights as well as meeting the Samaritans.
It should be mentioned that by this time there was torrential rain throughout the West Bank. Lucky we picked olives the previous week.
On Wednesday our final active day in the West Bank we went to Bethlehem for a day organised by old friends Basim and Hanan (who visited Oxford last year).
There was a visit to Badeel where we had a talk about refugees and their rights, then Aida Camp and the Lajee Centre there. The projects that they carry out here to get young refugees involved in photography, filming and other artistic endeavours are marvellous. After visiting the Hospital where Hanan works we did a tour of the Holy Nativity Church and returned to Jerusalem.
On our last morning we had an ICAHD (Israeli Committee against House Demolitions) tour of Jerusalem. This was a good way to wind up seeing how badly serviced Palestinian areas of the city were, also the way the Wall is stealing land for the development of strategic settlements in East Jerusalem. The tour took us into a major settlement in the West Bank with its green lushness using stolen water, its stolen olive trees, and plans for expansion. The trip also showed how easy it was for an Israeli bus to go in and out of the West Bank.
Afterwards I went down to Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem and saw the houses that the settlers were stealing off people with the long-term Palestinian residents in tents on the pavements.