Sunday, 25 March 2007

Recreational tours

Friday: Spent the day seeing beyond Nablus. First to Burin which - although only a couple of miles from Nablus, meant going through the Huwara checkpoint. Being Friday it was quiet and the Israeli soldiers looked quite bored. But Palestinian cars are not allowed to pass the checkpoint so our driver and his car had to wait for us and we took a taxi the rest of the way.

In Burin we met Namarecq who visited Dundee a couple of years ago. Great also to see her husband and 8 month old daughter. Her house is situated on the edge of the village and gave us views to the valley below and the the main village with its mosque and snuggle of houses. A brief visit but time enough for a cup of mint tea and a walk around the fields. Our departure was delayed because, being Friday, we had to wait until the taxi drivers had finished their prayers at the mosque.

Back through Huwara checkpoint to rejoin our car and driver - then on to Iraq Burin which is a most amazing old village situated on the top of a rocky outcrop. We were entertained in an old house on the top of the world overlooking the olive groves around Nablus. Lunch was a plentiful supply of chicken and bread with a horse ride as an aperatif!

During the afternoon we were guest in a modern house in a new area of Nablus being developed way up in the hills.

As we drove around we could see two significant settlements (Yithar and Bracho) which dominate the area. This visit was non-political but I felt sympathy for the Palestinians whose land is being used to provide housing and space for the occupying power (which is illegal under international law). The security measures protecting the settlers are having a serious impact on the social, cultural and economic life of the Palestinians.

For the evening we were entertained to dinner in a carefree atmosphere which was disturbed when we heard that the Israeli army had entered the town before we went back to our hotel. So, like everyone else in Nablus, we had to travel cautiously in the hope that we could avoid accidentally provoking any fire or get caught up in action.

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