|The trip was called "Walls2Windows" and mostly focused on awareness/advocacy for Palestinian "refugees" living in the West Bank. The guides tried to remain as objective as possible when discussing history and political issues surrounding the settlements. I went on the trip with 4 other people from our master's program. In all our tour group had 13 people and one of the tour guides was a fellow classmate.
We took bus 160 from Jerusalem into the West Bank. It is the only bus route that has bullet proof buses and the passengers were mostly IDF soldiers and Jewish settlers. Our first stop was in Hebron and we saw the Old City of Hebron and met with a group of non-violent Palestinian activists. We then had lunch in the home of a Palestinian family. In the town, we were able to see the "Cave of the Patriarchs" also known as "Ibrahimi Mosque" to Muslims. It is an important site for Jews and Muslims as the land and cave beneath the building was the first land purchased by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite. The cave beneath the mosque is the burial site of Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah who are the "Patriarchs and Matriarchs" of the Jewish people. Muslims revere the site through Abraham and their patriarch Ishmael. The history of this site goes back to Genesis Chapter 23(1-20) where you can find reference to Kirjath-Arba in verse 2, the same name of the town to this day.
After lunch we boarded a bus to Bethlehem, but not before we ran into a small mob of Palestinian protestors throwing rocks at IDF soldiers who returned the favor with tear gas/flash bang grenades. We changed routes and walked down a parallel street to get to the bus. Clashes such as these are routine and frequently occur in the West Bank.
In Bethlehem we toured the Aida Refugee Camp and had tea with another Palestinian family. The artwork in the pictures was done on the walls of the refugee camp. We also saw the security wall which was erected by Israel in 2000. Since the wall went up, Israel's security has increased exponentially while making life more difficult for Palestinians living in the West Bank. Checkpoints and roadblocks greatly hinder the ability for the Palestinians to move about freely in the West Bank. Before the wall went up, suicide bombings were rampant and this trip would not have been possible.