As I was on the tube travelling to Kings Cross station, the realisation started to sink in that I was actually on my way to Palestine. Like always, I had been so busy in the run up to this trip, I hadn’t had any time to think about it.
For some reason I was expecting our flight to Tel Aviv to be fairly empty, but it was full, which I found reassuring. As we flew into Israel, I was surprised at how green the land was, and how built up the coastal towns were with their high rise buildings and golf courses. I also felt a lot of adrenalin, knowing that we were so close to Gaza.
Once I got over my deep vein thrombosis (I may be a slight hypercondriac, and with a pain in my leg, I decided to make a self diagnosis) we went through the airport and we were astounded by the racial segregation at border control. Regardless of your nationality, if you have a Muslim name, you get sent to a waiting room, where you will be interrogated by the Israelis on your intentions when in the country. It was quite upsetting. They even question ‘unusual’ names, for instance, they questioned the middle name ‘Jemima’ of one of our group and asked if it were a Muslim name.
Having lost half of our group to the unfair racial profiling, the rest of us set up camp next to a baggage collection point to wait for them. After 4 hours, we noticed a flight come in from London and I was intrigued to find out what time it had departed. I asked a lady who told me that they left Heathrow at 4pm. They departed 5 hours later than us but were out of the airport before us. I explained to the lady that we had been waiting for the other half of our group, because “customs seem to have a problem with Muslims”, and she looked at me as if I were mad to suggest otherwise. She said “well yes, you have to be careful who you let in, we live in a crazy world”. She was an English Jew, returning to her home country, and she started telling me how wonderful Israel is. I kept quiet on the fact that we were actually visiting Palestine, and returned to our group, not knowing whether to shout or cry. Who were they to decide who they needed to be ‘careful’ about? Why didn’t they pull me aside? I could be just as bigger threat toward their country as my new Muslim friends?
After 4 hours, we were finally reunited but by this time it was dark, and I was very nervous about travelling along the roads, particularly after reading the travel advice on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/the-occupied-palestinian-territories) “There have been a number of serious incidents along Route 443 (between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem), including shootings, stabbings, vehicle ramming attacks and reports of stones and Molotov cocktails being thrown at cars. If you use this route, be vigilant and avoid stopping between the Maccabim check point and Jerusalem if possible.”
Although terrified, I couldn’t help admire the enormity of our destination and it’s biblical history as we drove through Bethlehem, passed signs for “The Shepherds Fields” and “Virgin Mary’s Well”. It was quite special.
Once we had arrived at our guest house, we were greeted by our Palestinian friends who had waited up for us. We had some food before settling in to our rooms, and despite my exhaustion, I couldn’t help but think… “What on earth am I doing here?’ We were now in Palestine, and I was very nervous about what was to come.
Please join me over the next two weeks when I shall be documenting life in Palestine, under the Israeli Occupation, with daily blog posts and video diaries on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ptparent/).
To donate, please visit my Just Giving page:
To Find out more about how these donations will help, please visit CADFA’s website: