Introductory tours of the rural area of Bethlehem










The "Bethlehem-Jerusalem" group of the "Combatants for Peace" (CFP) movement conducts tours of the rural area of Bethlehem, with the purpose of expanding and deepening the participants' knowledge of the area, its inhabitants and the problems inherent to life under occupation in the area. At the end of the tour, a meeting with the Palestinian members of the group is held, in which they tell us of the reality of their life and of their involvement with CFP. To the best of our knowledge, CFP is the only movement which conducts tours which are open to the public in this area of the Occupied Territories. The tour circles the city of Bethlehem from East to West: the concrete wall surrounding Rachel's tomb, the relentless construction in the "Har Homa" (Wall mountain) neighborhood, the Eastern part of the Gush Etzion settlements (Tkoa, Nokdim), the chokehold construction design around the village of Nahalin, the historic settlements of Gush Etzion, the Orthodox Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit and the Separation Barrier in the village of Wallaje.

The story behind the tour slowly unfolds: Gush Etzion has been fixed in the Israeli public's mind as an area which was Israeli, and which will remain Israeli as part of any future permanent peace agreement. What, however, is the connection between historic Gush Etzion and the immense territories of the regional Gush Etzion council, which circle Bethlehem and obstruct any possibility of its expansion in any direction? What will be of the 20,000 Palestinians who are captured within the Gush Etzion enclave? The accelerated construction of the Separation barrier in this area is turning certain Israeli fantasies into very real nightmares for Palestinians living in the region.

The tour is guided by the members of the group, and passes only in C regions, which do not require any security arrangements. For further information on dates and registration, please check the website (http://cfpeace.org/) periodically, or write to : siur.betlehem@gmail.com

The Jerusalem-Bethlehem group wishes to thank Dror Etkes for his important contribution to the making of this tour and the training of the instructors who guide it.