Well I’m back again!
Got here safely this morning about 4:45 am. No problems at airport, but they took their time searching my bags. Two hours later I was finally on my way to the hostel in Jerusalem. Such warm greetings from Hisham! Got the latest updates about the situation here and within ISM from him. Travelled into Ramallah with an aussie, J., who’d just returned from a conference in Egypt (and who, like me conincidentally, wants to visit Nazareth at some point). Brilliant to see all my friends in the media office in Ramallah, and they all seemed genuinely glad to see me – even though I’ve been crap about keeping in touch with them. I must do better with emails in future.
I have jetlag (first time ever for a Palestine trip). This was due to getting almost no sleep on the plane. Had a nap when I got here to Ramallah, but woke myself up so as not to get into a bad sleeping pattern.
Went to Bil’in with my good friend R. to visit some folk there. Met some other ISMers there and in Ramallah too. Spent some time enjoying the hospitality of one of the village’s families. Mmmm… nice Palestinian food. Walked over to the new outpost the Bil’in people have built on their land near the illegal Israeli settlements, to challenge their construction and that of the apartheid barrier. To get there we had to pass the fence, two sections of which had been cut down, presumably by kids from the village. Due to this and the fact that this was election day in Israel, there were several Israeli soldiers up by a large antenae (my guess is that it was a mobile phone mast). Upon seeing us pass nearby, they shouted to call us over. R. is a Palestinian and did not want to ignore them in case they started shooting. They detained him for about 30 minutes, checking his ID card over the radio. R. has nothing on his record so was not worried. Instead he chatted to the soldiers in his fluent Hebrew. They let us go after a while when a few other people came up from the village to join us. After that we headed over to the outpost, which is a cosy little place. Learned a little Arabic from A. A couple of other ISMers stayed there the night.
I’m really glad to be back – I think it’s going to be a good trip. I’m off to bed now to catch up with sleep.
p.s. I’ll send my phone number via email soon, but if you still have it from last time I was here: it’s the same as then.