Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Dec 17, 2006

Part Two: Israel, Egypt, Jordan & Turkey

Section Two: Israel
(Associated Images: 01 Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem; 02 West "Wailing" Wall, Jerusalem; 03 Fortrss, Masada; 04 Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth; 05 Crucifixion Site, 12th Station, Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem)

During the eight days we spent in Israel, we traveled through the length and breadth of the country. Starting from Tel Aviv, we drove north along the Mediterranean coast, through Haifa (target of several rockets during the recent conflict with Lebanon), up to Akko, only about 11 miles from the border with Lebanon. Then we drove east through Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee, and along its northern, eastern (through Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967) coast to its southern junction with Jordan River. In this region we were as close as five miles to the border with Syria. Next we drove south along Jordan River, which marks the border with Jordan, established in 1967. In this region we could see some Jordanian border posts. Finally, we drove along the western coast of Dead Sea to the Le Meridien resort at Ein Boqeq, about 10 miles south of the ancient fortress of Masada.

During our travels we passed through or by some Muslim areas as well as some autonomous Palestinian territories like Jericho. At one place we could see the massive and heavily fortified wall Israel has built to keep Palestinians away from its territories.

At times, we read newspaper reports of rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. But we did not personally come across any untoward incident involving Palestinians. But we were told that Palestinians from the autonomous areas were not allowed to drive into Israeli cities.

When some of us expressed desire to go to the Bethlehem, Gabriel Wilhem, our Jewish driver/tour director told us that he was not allowed to drive into Palestinian areas. But he agreed to drive us to an Israeli check point, where we will have board a vehicle to be driven by a Palestinian guide. He also told us that the situation in Bethlehem had been tense and discouraged us from going there. We took his advice, and dropped the idea of going to Bethlehem.

Gabriel took us shopping at some Muslim establishments in Jerusalem, and Muslim falafel stands at a couple of places. But some of his statements smacked of prejudice against Muslims.


In Israel, we visited we visited many Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites. They included Dome of the Rock (where Abraham agreed to obey God’s command to sacrifice his son, and where, according to what Muslims believe God took Prophet Muhammad on his Mystical Night journey from Mecca), Western Wall (Believed by the Jews to be a remnant of their ancient temples), Masada (The ancient hill fortress, where around 67 BC the 967 rebellious Jewish men, women and children defended themselves to the last person against 150,000 Roman legionnaires), Basilica of the Annunciation (Where Gabriel heralded the birth of Jesus, (Mount of Beatitude (Where Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount), and Via Dolorosa (The path cross-bearing Jesus followed from the site of his condemnation to his crucifixion and burial/resurrection). Also we saw the Roman and Crusader ruins at Caesarea and Acre, enjoyed a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee and floating in the Dead Sea.


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