After arriving in Jerusalem we went to the hilltop of Gilo, a mountain just outside Jerusalem. The view was just breathtaking. This was the first stop of the Ir Amim tour. Ir Amim is a NGO which concentrates on the Israel Palestine conflict.
And this was also the theme and backround of our tour through Jerusalem. We wanted to investigate the traces of this conflict in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is the capital of Jewish and Palestinian culture and consists of Jewish neighborhoods such as East Talpiot, Gilo and Homat Shmul and Palestinian neighborhoods such as Jebl Mukaber and Umm-Tuba. They showed us how intervowen and interlaced the two cultures lived side by side. But this intervoweness causes a great problem in future planning of the city and also makes dividing it to implement the two state solution almost impossible.
But it not only affects the future but also the present. Normally it only takes a few minutes to get from Jerusalem to Betlehem but due to the security barrier delays the trip takes much longer.
Our next stop was Rachel's tomb, a little cement building which is used by Muslim, Christians and Jews for religious reasons.
The tour was extremely interesting because the guide revealed information about Jerusalem that was not even known to the local inhabitants of Jerusalem.
From Rachel's tomb we travelled to Homat Shmul, a souteastern neighborhood of Jerusalem. Here we could see how the expansion of the Israeli area of Jerusalem would make it impossible to create a Palastinian state.
With a bus we reached Umm-Tuba, an area of Jerusalem which was under Jordanian rule till 1967. After becoming Israeli, the Arabs living in Umm-Tuba are not considered Israeli citizens but permanent residents and are also not allowed to vote or posses an Israeli passport.
Later on we examined the functions and problems of the barriers separating Palastinian and Israeli part of the city and discussed it's future problems.