Jericho – 1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world

Heading to Jericho which is in Palestinian territories is only 40km from Jerusalem, This ancient city is somewhere I had always wanted to visit, and scouring the internet seems to not have much in the way of safety recommendations but seems popular with all kinds of visitors to the holyland, as some good friends from the UK were over it was a good chance to take a jolly over and investigate the oldest still inhabited city in the world….

After driving through an Israeli checkpoint, no action is needed as you only get ID’ed on the way out, so its just a case of driving slowly past a kiosk, a bit further is another checkpoint, just some concrete barriers and two soldiers from the Palestinian government who just asked for passport from my friend who was driving.

This picture was taken some distance away, and this is the best zoom I could do, as for obvious reasons I don’t want to be found taking pictures of any kind of checkpoint crossing anywhere!!   Seeing uniformed soldiers with their lapels in Arabic with Palestinian symbols was quite scary for a minute there!

I came to the city trying not to have any preconceived ideas, I have been to Bethlehem and passed through a few small Palestinian towns and also visited Arab Israeli cities like Nazareth and Akko.

This corner shop was the first business we came to.   CocaCola is a brand you find everywhere in the world, especially in this corner of the world and I remember somewhere, one of the Arab nations were trying to make an equivalent Cola drink for the middle east market.

This part of the West Bank is quite odd, there are old and new parts of Palestinian society together.   For instance, there are run down looking houses, factories and farms, and there are large overhead gantries over the main road advertising technology and home furnishing trade conventions.

This sign is for Jawwal, a Palestinian mobile phone operator.

This concrete wall, isn’t a separation barrier, or any kind of border, seems to be a fortified car park for police vehicles, it does look unfinished with unrendered concrete looking like just as a imposing as the wall I see next to Bethlehem about 3-4 miles from my house.  Maybe its inspired by the ancient walls of Jericho…

Next: to Jericho’s city centre!

1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world2. Jericho’s town centre3. Church on the cliff4. View of Jericho’s plain –  5. The tree

Shiloh – ancient Jewish town in Samaria

This looks like a normal bus, until I noticed the windows are thicker than normal when sitting inside, I think the wheels are larger.   Reason being is this bus is intended for tourists going through more riskier parts of the West Bank, as the windows are bullet proof and has 6 tons of armour plating!

This Synagogue is a replica of a biblical one, its not just a historical building, its in regular use for the community here.

We visited a school, there is a small kiosk with an armed security guard there.  In the past children have been particularly at risk from Palestinian terrorism.  Everyone seems to know a family member or neighbour touched by tragedy in some way.

Here, this school runs different programs to help children that may have lost a family member due to terrorism, this one here is a room with special lighting and relaxing music.

I got to hear an amazing miracle by one of the residents of Shiloh, who was ambushed by terrorists, he was shot in the leg and his son in the neck critically.  As rounds from an AK47 would penetrate a car from one side to the other and would disable the engine, he was praying as three times he tried to start the car which the engine would not turn over. After the fourth time the car ran, and was able to drive to a petrol station to summon help and get hospital treatment, later when the car was check by a mechanic which was full of holes, the mechanic said there was no way the car would run, bullets had penetrated through the engine casing.

Sadly, the mainstream world news tends to not hear about what happens in Shiloh, and instead refers to places in the Judea & Samaria area as settlements and that the land was obtained dishonestly.  Here this particular town has a lot of history from biblical times, with significant finds dug up by archeologists here.