Beit Ummar Hostel

$20 per person per night - self catering
Breakfast - $5
Lunch or dinner - $10

Beit Ummar is a Palestinian Muslim village just south of Bethlehem in the middle of Israel's Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Your host Musa runs the hostel in part of a house owned by his family. There are dormitory accommodations, modern bathrooms, and a kitchen where you can make your own meals with food purchased at the village shops. Home-cooked meals can also be provided. The property has comfortable lounge areas, a balcony and outdoor space, and wireless internet throughout - so you can sit under an olive tree while getting your email.

Beit Ummar is a wonderful place to relax, learn about Palestinian life under occupation, or involve yourself in volunteer activities.

This is a very unique environment. Beit Ummar has a population of about 17,000 and the main road from Jerusalem to Hebron runs through the edge of the village. The villagers have lost huge amounts of land over the years, expropriated for settlement construction and is now surrounded on three sides by settlements. However they remain steadfast, Samoud in Arabic, in their hope that one day justice will come to the land.

Please remember that this a conservative community. Both men and women should be fully covered at all times. This includes a high neckline on a shirt and dress, shoulders and upper arms covered, and dresses or skirts below the knees. Trousers (pants) are common for both men and women. No shorts. Respecting the local mores will enable you to blend in and communicate comfortably with local people.

Getting There - You have a few options

Private Transport - The most expensive option is to be picked up at your hostel or hotel in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, or from the airport and take you directly to the hostel. This will take the least amount of time and allow you more flexibility. The cost is 450 shekels from Jerusalem - 650 from Tel Aviv or the airport.

By Taxi - Take taxi direct from East Jerusalem (with an Arab driver), or Bethlehem. When you make a reservation a confirmation email will be sent to you with Musa's celphone number. Just have the taxi driver call him and you'll be all set. Then call Musa again when entering the village and the driver will be directed to the hostel. The cost of the taxi is about 200-240 shekels from Jerusalem  and about 150 shekels from Bethlehem. However you may have to bargain. 

By Bus - You can also get there by bus. From the bus station near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, take a bus to Bethlehem. At the Bethlehem bus station switch to a bus or shared taxi going to Hebron. However make sure you tell the driver that you need to get off at Beit Ummar. Ask the driver or another passenger to call Musa for you and give an estimated time of arrival. Musa will meet you.You'll spend less than 50 shekels on bus fares but the trip will take two hours or more from Jerusalem.

Your host Musa, together with his wife and others from the village, run a project called the Palestine Solidarity Project. They have developed a strategy of non-violent resistance to the Occupation and organize a variety of activities. These include accompanying farmers to their land when there is a danger of settler violence, replanting destroyed trees, and resisting home demolitions. They also have established a women's embroidery cooperative. You will have an opportunity to learn about these activities.

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