The whole idea of building the Wall came up in 2002, in the times of Second Intifada. This uprising full of Palestinian-Israeli violence was known for numerous terrorist attacks and suicide bombers. The Israeli government, in order to protect the citizens, decided it’s the best to make the Wall, separating Palestine territories from the rest of the country. It goes mostly along the “green line”, a demarcation line from 1949 (created after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War) but in some places it diverges to include on the Israeli side the Jewish settlements. As of 2012 62,1% of the Wall was already built and another 8% of approximately 700kms was under construction. There were 66 gates but Palestinians can use only 39 of them. The Wall divided villages and family members, left people without the jobs or separated them from their fields, the only source of the income…
Every tourist visiting West Bank, either to curiously see the area that so often plays the main role in the world’s news or to pray in the Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, has to see the Wall. The same goes for people who cross Palestinian Territories to get to the Dead Sea. It’s also well seen from the Old Town in Jerusalem. Most people (including me) walk up to the Wall in Bethlehem as it’s located not that far from the center of the city. It was already getting dark when we get there. The whole area felt like from the scary movie – no one was seen around and the enormous Wall suddenly budded at the side of the road where all the cars just turned back. Most of the people kept asking when we would see Banksy’s street art (there were two of them we’ve eventually seen), seeming not to notice the terrible structure they were standing next to. The Wall was huge! Twice as high as the one dividing Berlin in the Soviet time, with watchtowers at the top of it. I was overwhelmed by its size and standing so close to it made me feel uncomfortable and intimidated (the darkness around probably played a big role in this too). I couldn’t stop thinking how the Wall influence the people’s life, on both side of it, people who want nothing but the peace and equal treatment.
While the Wall plays an unfortunate role of dividing and separating Israeli and Palestinian people it also serves as a big street art gallery. Of course most visitors just want to see what Banksy did there (am I the only one who is not THAT impressed by his work?) – two of his most famous pieces can be found in Bethlehem. But most of the street art that is made on the Wall has a message, a sorrow one. It talks about the peace, freedom and love, how we should build bridges not walls, how not every Palestinian is a terrorist… It’s an important lesson that tells a lot about the conflicts and I personally hope that, as the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989, the story with the one separating Israel and Palestine will have the same ending…
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And as for the Banksy, when he was doing his job in Bethlehem in 2005 a local Palestinian man said to him: “You’re making the Wall beautiful! We don’t want it to be beautiful, we hate this Wall! Go home!”
Below you can see some pictures of the messages on the Separation Wall in Bethlehem (sorry for the quality, it was already too dark to take decent pictures)
Where did you see the most powerful street art?
I visited West Bank with Abraham Tours. It leaves from Jerusalem every Saturday and Tuesday. Best of West Bank Tour costs 360 NIS per person.
If you think of visiting Israel or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!
Note: My trip to Israel was in partnership with Tourist Israel, Abraham Tours and Abraham Hostel. As always I’m keeping it real and all opinions are 100% mine. By the way, this bunch of people does a lot of awesome things for reconciliation and if you go Israel you should really consider visiting the country with them!
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