Journey through the Palestinian Territories and the Gush Etzion Settlement Block. Explore the complexities of Bethlehem and Hebron. Have lunch with a Palestinian family in Hebron, and have the option to spend the night with a middle class Palestinian family in Bethlehem. The tour combines the historical and religious highlights of the area, and explores the history and politics of Israel’s Occupation of the West Bank. You’ll visit Abraham’s Tomb, the Church of Nativity, Israel’s ‘Separation Barrier’, a refugee Camp, view the ‘settlements’, and walk the ghetto neighbourhoods of Hebron.
DAY 1 - HEBRON
You’ll be picked up from your hotel and travel a back roads route to Hebron with an experienced guide. The impact of Israel’s Separation Barrier will be seen, along with the sprawling settlements that are the cause of so much tension in the area. Entry to Hebron will be with an Israeli guide through the Israeli checkpoint into the Kiryat Arba Jewish Settlement where you’ll visit the tomb of Baruch Goldstein and learn about the impact of the community on Hebron’s Palestinians. Kiriyat Arba is a rapidly growing settlement suburb of Hebron with about 8,000 Jewish residents.
In Hebron you'll visit the Abraham’s Tomb ("Me'arat Hamachpela / Al-haram Al-Ibrahimi), and have the opportunity to enter both the Mosque on the Muslim side, and the synagogue on the Jewish side. The site has been divided since the Goldstein massacre, and you’ll encounter several security checks. Make sure you have your passport.
You'll take a walk down Shuhada street and the old city market, once a bustling Palestinian market street, now with shuttered shops, welded-shut doorways and deserted roads. You'll see the settlers' compounds and the military base and checkpoints along the route connecting them.
You'll transfer to a Palestinian guide in order to enter the Palestinian market area. Your Israeli guide may not enter since Israeli Jews are forbidden by the IDF from entering the market.
In the late afternoon you’ll be dropped off with your host family, or at a local hotel, depending on your choice. You’ll have dinner with the host family and a good night’s sleep after an exciting day.
DAY 2 - BETHLEHEM
You’ll be picked up by your guide after breakfast. The first stop is the Aida Refugee Camp which is under the supervision on UNRWA, a United Nations agency. At the camp there will be a walking tour and a discussion about the situation with camp officials. Aida camp was established in 1950 on an area of 66 dunums between the towns of Bethlehem and Beit Jala.
After the Camp you will see sections of the Separation Barrier and some of Banksy's famous graffiti, and visit the museum at ‘Walled off Hotel’. an art project by the artist. The Barrier surrounds Bethlehem on three sides and has resulted in travel restrictions for Palestinians
The visit to the Church of the Nativity and the Old city markets of Bethlehem will take the rest of the morning leading up to lunch in a local; restaurant with traditional food. Religious guests may request additional time at the church. Please note that we are required by the government to engage one of the official church guides for the walk through the church.
After lunch you’ll drive Mar Saba Monastery is at the edge of Bethlehem and the Judean Desert, and dates from the 5th Century. This is a highlight of the tour, and offers spectacular views of the Judean desert. At the end of the day you will be returned to your hotel in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.