News from Qalqilya – The Outdoor Prison

Today the Norwegian Newspaper VG brought the news of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) killing two Palestinians in the West Bank town of Qalqilya.

http://www.vg.no/pub/vgart.hbs?artid=178660

Al-Jazeera has a piece on it in english.

The news itself is in no way shocking. After all, killing unarmed civilians are the main task for the IDF, but knowing what Qalqilya really is, makes the situation kind of special…

Qalqilya is SURROUNDED by the Apartheid Wall. The IDF can literally close the city, and do whatever they like with the citizens. In other countries this town would be known as an outdoor Prison and the West Bank would be known as modern “Concentration Camp”…. in Palestine that’s everyday life.

During my stay in the West Bank summer 2006 I visited Qallqilya.

Norway HATES Israel


According to the biggest Israeli newspaper,Yedioth Ahronoth, who is quoting a highly ranked source in the Israeli foreign department, Norway is the most anti-Israeli country in the world… I wonder why….
…via www.dagbladet.no

Pictures from the Middle East


I just finished processing my pictures from the Middle East. My Jerusalem / West Bank pictures you can find there:

Pictures from The Middle East 2006

Pictures from Jordan and Egypt will come soon…

Banksy


After spending some time around the apartheid wall in Palestine, you see a lot of nice graffiti on this wall. A friend of mine pointed out to me that many of these nice drawings are made by a British graffiti artist named Banksy. On his web page you can see a lot of his work on the apartheid wall:

Banksy’s in the West Bank

This morning Eirik came up with a link from a brilliant stunt that Banksy pulled off in Disneyland. Dressing up an inflatable full size human doll in an Guantanamo inmate suite inside the Big Thunder Mountain Ride….. I am laughing my ass off…

Read more about the stunt.

The hooded Guantanamo inmate seems to have become a favorite of Mr. Banks:


See more at www.headphonesex.co.uk

Last night in the Holy City


Everything comes to an end… trips to the Middle East as well… Today I have been packing up my stuff and preparing to leave. I guess I’m about ready now. It is always sad to leave a place like this, but it will also be good to come home now… Hope it is raining and that the autumn storms has begun… :)

Last time for a while I will be able to sit in one of the towers of St Thomas home watching the sunset… I made a little video… I will miss this…

The rest of the day will contain some hours of waiting, taxi to Ben Gurion Airport, and a couple of hours with interrogation by the always funny zecurity… I have a vague idea on that they might ask me…. :) Then AlItalia will fly me safly home via Milano and Amsterdam, before landing in Oslo tomorrow night.. Inshallah…

Dome of the Rock

Save the best part for last…. Today I finally got my ass over at the Dome of the Rock….

On my way to Egypt

Rumors has it that it has been a large train accident in Egypt. Since I haven’t reached the land of the Pharaoes yet, there is no need to worry. I am, relatively, safe on a Egged Bus with bullet proof windows on the way from Jerusalem to Eilat. Just passed the Dead Sea, with all the Israeli Spa Hotels, and are now entering the Negev dessert. Attaching a picture of my new sunglasses…. Everyone else seem to think they are kinnda funny, while I find them classy…. (and cheap: $10)

The Big Picture



Knowing that most people aren’t able to put neither Lebanon, Syria, Israel OR The West Bank on a map, I have made a little Google map with all the places where I have visited during the last month…

The Places under the map are clickable and will take you to the specific area where these places are found. It is also possible to use the slider to zoom and pan around in the map, and the red balloons can be clicked if you like more info about the place…

Quite exciting this Google Maps :)

Sushi lunch

Since I am about to leave for Egypt, some none-arabic food is what I need. Dont think sushi will be the easiest food to get the hold of in Cairo…. Then again…. Who knows :)

Leaving Las Jerusalem

After one week in the holy city…. It is time for Ståle to return back to Norway. Thanks for visiting, see you soon.

Abu Dis & Sawahreh


Since this is Ståles last day on the occupied West Bank this time, we decided to go visit his old neighbours in Sawahreh and Abu Dis to say goodbye…

Abu Dis is a suburb to Jerusalem that is cut off from Jerusalem by The Apartheid Wall. Before the wall you could travel to Jerusalem in 10 minutes by car, now it takes 1 hour. The Palestinian Parliament Building is located in Abu Dis, but it has never been used, due to the fact that Abu Dis is completely cut of from Jerusalem. People living in Abu Dis has West Bank identification papers, and are therefor not allowed to visit Jerusalem. As you can see from the pictures we are not talking about another city, we are talking about their next door neighbours. On the picture above you can see The Dome of the Rock in center of the picture and Mount of Olives on the right… Pretty close in other words…

To get the best pictures of Abu Dis, Ståle came up with the idea of asking the workers on a construction site, if it was possible to get to the top of the 10 floor building they where working on. It turned out Ståle had been joking when he suggested this, but since I already asked the Foreman, and he allowed us, we found ourselves climbing the stairs of the highest building in Abu Dis…


Mr. Langørgen, equipped with quite a bit of Vertigo, had to admit that this “was one of the scariest things he had ever done on the West Bank…” (The last ladder to the top turned out to be the worst of the worst… :) )

I can’t think of any other place on this earth where it is possible to walk up to a construction site, say you are from Norway, and be allowed to enter the not yet finished 10 floor building… Amazing… Nothing less than amazing… :)


After a couple of hours in Abu Dis we headed for Sawahreh to visit an old beduin family that Ståle knew from before. The hospitality and kindness of Palestinians are hard to both imagine and describe as an European… Tea, Food, Fruit, Tea, Food and more Tea… Discussion in Eng-rabic about the Israelis, The Apartheid Wall, Kids, Marriage and you name what… It is way harder to leave such people, than it is to meet them and be accepted into the family.


Another day turning night….

After quite some day, we are chillin at Jerusalem hotel. Mixed grill, wine and The Usual Suspects: Ståle and Nora (Lady Di just left for the States with her jailkeeper)

Qalqilya


Today’s journey went to the encircled city of Qalqilya on the occupied West Bank. Qalqilya is situated close to the Israeli border, and is completely surrounded by the Apartheid wall.

Getting in and out of Qalqilya can be a real hassle, you have to pass 2 permanent Israelli checkpoints, and there are often “flying-checkpoints” on the main roads. Causing long ques of cars and people. Today we where kind of lucky… on the way in to Qalqilya we where not stopped at any of the two checkpoints, and the journey took about 3.5 hour. Going by Sherut to Ramallah, and public bus and a private car!!! to Qalqilya.

Since today is Friday, all Muslim cities are very quiet… most of the shops are closed and the people are going to the Mosque for Friday praiers. Nevertheless we found both something to eat (delicious Hommous and Shis Kebab.. REALLY!!!) and The Apartheid Wall (The last of the two being the easiest to find.. :) )


On both to the North and the South side of Qalqilya, there are large Israeli settlements overlooking the enclosed city, and this is of course the official reason why there is an need for a wall… To walk along the the inside of the wall, and realize that the city is actually totally surrounded, is so bizarre it is hard to explain… This is nothing but a big outdoor prison… The Israelis controlling both who can enter the city and who can leave it…

It was a little surprising to find NORWEGIAN graffiti on the wall in Qalqilya, but it seems someone from the political party SV (Sosialistisk Venstreparti) have been here before us, and tagged the wall! :) Way to GO!!!

On the bus heading towards Qalqilya, we meet some guys who where very interested in where we were from, and what the hell we wanted to to in Qalqilya. After the usual 10 minutes of trying to explain, they were satisfied with us and welcomed us to Palestine (As they always do :) ) Then they showed us some videos on their mobile phones… Videos of what they do with spies (or collaborators) that are found guilty of working with the Israelis….

(Modern: (og alle andre mødre) Dere trenger ikke se på disse klippene… de er ganske drøye)

We also got the hold of some more from Al-Manar TV… this one also from the guys at the bus (who BTW claimed to be cops…)

These videos where handed us via Bluetooth from one mobile phone to another at a bus from Ramallah to Qalqilya in the occupied West Bank… Technology will never stop to amaze me…. ;)

Sushi

Vi kjører litt luxus i dag og spiser Sushi til middag i Vest-Jerusalem. Billig er det ikke, men heldigvis helt ok til å være i en ørken….

Gush Etzion

Idag har vi vært ut på tur igjen, og som vanlig lar vi reporter Ståle Langørgen innlede fra dagens lille eventyr. (Siden han nå likevell henger rundt her…)

Vi har altså vært en tur til det Jødiske settelmentet “Gush Etzion” som ligger i åsen over Hebron. Settlementet er et av mange jødiske settlement langt inne på Vestbredden, og inneholder blandt annet en Kibbutz ved navn “Kfar Etzion”. Her har vi tilbringt dagen blandt hundrevis av jødebarn på sommercamp, sett videofilm om hvordan de forferdelige Araberne forsøkte å ta fra dem landet, som jo er gitt dem av gud, og fått en liten oppdattering på hvordan det står til med Kibbutz-Israel.

På veien hjem fallt vi for fristelsen til å hoppe av på et kjøpesenter for å spise kosher burger på Burger King, og gjøre litt vestlig shopping. Fin fin dag her på den okkuperte Vestebredden.