Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tour guides in Israel

What we have learned.  A Jewish guide cannot take you to Area A which is Muslim.  An Muslim guide cannot get you into Area C which is Jewish.  An Arabic Christian (catholic) can probably get you in to both.  But not always to the Jewish sites.  An Israeli guide might not take you into the West Bank.  You cannot rent a car in Israel and drive it into the West Bank.  A car with Palestinian license plates most likely cannot enter Israel.  Are you confused yet?

This is quite valuable information in searching where you want to go, and who you hire to get you there.  Our Jewish guide 2 years ago was shocked that we had been to Nablus to see Joseph's tomb.  Someone else was surprised we had been to Mt Gerizim to where the Samaritans live.  I remember on our first trip here we would see things and were told we couldn't go there.  It wasn't that "we" couldn't go - our guide wasn't allowed to go.

Today we went with Sam Salem.  He is an an Arabic catholic.  He grew up in Bethlehem, speaks 7 languages, contracts with the UN, and has become our friend over the past years.  He has taken us to so many different places and even acted as a private taxi for us.  We had never been to Hebron and wanted to see the graves of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, and Rebecca.  

It was not what I expected.  Because it is the Sabbath, the Jewish side is closed and we went to the Arabic side.  We had to put on these robes.  Of course we just laughed...what else can you do?


This is what Isaac and Rebecca's graves look like.  However these are only monuments.  The graves are about 25 feet below in a cave,  Herod built a huge building over them.

This is the monument to Abraham.  Sarah's is identical.


From there, we hiked up to where an old spring exists that used to provide water to Hebron.


There were some young soldiers there and they agreed to have the photo taken with their "grandmas"!  LOL!!


So then Sam takes us straight up the hill side!


It really was a terribly steep incline.  I'm feeling it tonight!  Might just be getting too old for this much adventure!!


Another steep climb up the next hill, more steps, and we arrived at tel Hebron, the ancient site and dig.  They built a house on top of it, preserving the original dig site.


An ancient road.


From here you could look back and see the tomb of the patriarchs (about the center of this photo).


Coming back thru a field, we found some pieces of Roman Glass.  Well, probably just soda bottles.  LOL!

Walked back to the tombs and the Jewish side was still closed.


A group of young men assembled in this park just outside.


Next we had an Arabic lunch and then home as this was just a half day tour.  It is always great fun when we are with Sam.  Today, he definitely took us off the beaten path.  Very few tourists go to Hebron and I'm going to say only a handful climb to tel Hebron.  I should mention that we saw plenty of armed military protecting the sites.   From the IDF to UN troops.  Sam said the only time there is a problem in Hebron is when there are problems in Gaza which is only 40 miles south.

Tour guides.  We highly recommend Sam. But we don't use him exclusively.  With google and gps on your might not even need a guide these days!  

1 comment:

Susan said...

Wonderful post! Love following you to Hebron!