Country number: Only recognised by some nations – UN observer status
Territory number: 41
When? August 1990
Who? Group tour, starting in Jordan, coming from Israel, returning to Jordan
Even in the fisherman’s net,
The smell of the sea.’
We take in Jericho soon after crossing the Allenby (King Hussein) Bridge. It’s believed to be the world’s oldest continually inhabited city and it dates back 11,000 years. None of the many archaeological sites in the area is riveting, and there’s little sign of the walls demolished by Joshua when they ‘fit the battle’, but the antiquity of the remains is astonishing.
A side trip from Jericho to Qumran, home of the Essenes, believed to have been the authors of the 2,000 year old Dead Sea scrolls. Nine hundred of these priceless documents were found amongst eleven rocky hillside caves in 1947.
From Jerusalem we venture south, to Bethlehem. Rocks are hurled at the bus. Fortunately, they only dent the paintwork. The nativity church is decorated with glittery lights, surrounded by tacky souvenir shops and surmounted by an illuminated electric star.
Onto the isolated hilltop fortress city of Masada. Here we are persuaded that this is one of those views that is best experienced at sunrise. So we are forced to arise at 3 a.m. to trek up countless steps and slippery paths and appreciate the sunrise over the Dead Sea. To be fair, it’s a rewarding, if starkly brown vista and the story of the Zealots last stand against the Romans, here in AD70, is a sad one. We are rewarded an hour to recuperate by bobbing in the Dead Sea – it’s so saline it’s almost impossible to swim properly. (I think there’s a cable car at Masada now.)
The story of the remainder of this journey is to be found under Jordan.
Until 1948, Palestine typically referred to the geographic region located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Much of this land is now considered present-day Israel. Today, Palestine theoretically includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, the borders aren’t formally set, and many areas claimed by Palestinians have been occupied by Israelis for years.
In 1947, the United Nations proposed a plan to partition Palestine into two sections: an independent Jewish state and an independent Arab state, with Jerusalem as internationalized territory.
Jewish leaders accepted the plan, but many Palestinian Arabs vehemently opposed it. Many Palestinians were dispossessed and had to move and almost immediately, war broke out between Jews and Arabs in the region. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War involved Israel and five Arab nations—Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.
This conflict marked the beginning of years of violent conflict between Arabs and Israelis, involving numerous different organisations.
Palestinians are still fighting for an official state that’s formally recognized by all countries. More than 135 United Nations member countries recognize Palestine as an independent state, but others including Israel and the USA do not.
To see more of my photos of Palestine, visit this page.