Every Tuesday & Friday
Length of tour: 8 hours
Departure time: 8.30am
Return: 4.30pm (16.30)
Pickup from: YMCA, King David Street, Jerusalem - see map
Cost: Shekels NIS 295
Lunch not included • Passports needed
The first stop is the Aida Refugee Camp which is under the supervision on UNRWA, a United Nations agency. At the camp there will be a walking tour and a discussion about the situation with camp officials. Aida camp was established in 1950 on an area of 66 dunums between the towns of Bethlehem and Beit Jala.
From the Camp you will see sections of the Separation Barrier and some of Banksky's famous graffiti. The Barrier surrounds Bethlehem on three sides and has resulted in travel restrictions for Palestinians and confiscated land.
|Mar Saba Monastery|
Lunch is often taken at Abed's Farm, just outside Bethlehem near the village of Wallaje. Abed insists on continuing to farm his land despite Israeli pressure to leave. Later there will be a visit to the Church of the Nativity and the Old city markets of Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank, approximately 10 kilometers (6 mi) south of Jerusalem, with a population of 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism.
According to Christian tradition, Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth and the town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, though the size of the community has shrunk in recent years due to emigration. According to Biblical tradition, the city is also believed to be the birthplace of David. The city was sacked by the Romans in 529 AD as a result of a revolt, and was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Bethlehem was conquered by the Islamic Caliphate of 'Umar ibn al-Khattāb in 637, who guaranteed safety for the city's religious shrines. In 1099, Crusaders captured and fortified Bethlehem and replaced its Greek Orthodox clergy with a Latin one. The Latin clergy were expelled after the city was captured by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria. With the coming of the Mamluks in 1250, the city's walls were demolished, and were subsequently rebuilt during the rule of the Ottoman Empire
The Ottomans lost the city to the British during World War I and it was to be included in an international zone under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. Jordan occupied the city in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and it was subsequently occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Israel has retained control over the entrances and exits to Bethlehem, though day-to-day administration has been under the purview of the Palestinian Authority since 1995.
Modern Bethlehem has a Muslim majority but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. The Bethlehem area includes the towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, as well as the refugee camps of 'Aida and Beit Jibrin. Bethlehem's dominant economic sector is tourism which is particularly high during the Christmas season as the city is a Christian pilgrimage center, being home of the Church of the Nativity. Bethlehem has over thirty hotels and three hundred handicraft work shops, employing several of the city's residents. Rachel's Tomb, an important Jewish holy site is located at the entrance of Bethlehem.