The fact for Palestinians is occupation, Malak Hassan tells Geo.television over the telephone. However she says they attempt to present the world that there’s one other aspect to them, apart from occupation and violence.
“Tourism reminds the world that Palestinians own this land. And it reminds Palestinians that they have a land to return back to,” Hassan said.
Hassan is one of two women travel bloggers – the other, Bisan Alhajhasan – who last year founded ‘Ahlan Palestine’, a blog that aims to promote tourism in the West Bank and Gaza as an act of defiance.
Until now, encouraging tourism has been important for Israel, by which it goals to legitimise its unlawful rule over Palestinian territories.
However the Palestinians are combating again. “We are showing that we exist,” Hassan mentioned, “Especially at a time when Israel is trying to push forward a narrative that Palestinians are not indigenous to the land.”
Through the years, Hassan and Alhajhasan have traveled throughout Palestinian territories, touring and documenting the plush inexperienced mountains of West Financial institution’s Ramallah metropolis to the historic Jericho, often called one of many oldest cities on this planet.
When requested what the bloggers’ favorite spots to go to had been, Hassan mentioned it will be any of the water locations. “We have many such [destinations] in Palestine in the form of natural water springs.”
Alhajhasan was a bit extra indecisive. “We’ve filmed many stunningly beautiful places that are all very special. However, the villages surrounding Ramallah and Bethlehem are my favourite.”
She added that Wadi Al Makhrour, an space round Bethlehem, has stunning, quiet and secluded mountains that are a must-attempt for hikers.
Tourism below occupation
However encouraging vacationers to go to Palestinian territories has its justifiable share of challenges, particularly when a big a part of the land has been occupied by Israel.
Additionally now, Alhajhasan mentioned, the Israeli settlers are rising. “Checkpoints are sometimes blocked,” she defined, “Once when we were just sitting near a spring water point in my village, settlers asked us to leave. We cannot even use drones to take pictures of our cities because the Israeli forces do not allow it.”
The olive season
Even planting and harvesting olives, which is of each financial and cultural significance to Palestinians, has come below assault.
Olives are one of many essential sources of agricultural earnings in Palestinian territories. As per the United Nations, 45% of agricultural land within the West Financial institution and Gaza is planted with olive bushes.
Olive cultivation can be a defining component of the Palestinian id.
Palestinians contemplate olive bushes as a symbolic token of peace and prosperity. The harvesting season brings Palestinians collectively, fostering a way of neighborhood. However for the Israeli forces, even olive bushes are a menace.
“They [the trees] are often guarded by the Israeli military. One time, soldiers set fire to really old olive trees,” Alhajhasan mentioned.
Another actuality and the best way ahead
The Ahlan Palestine weblog isn’t just for outsiders, it additionally goals to scale back the sensation of helplessness in Palestine.
“Violence and restrictions have a huge impact on the mental health of Palestinians living in occupied areas,” Alhajhasan defined, “We also encourage Palestinian families to leave their home and go out to explore their beautiful country.”
As for now, the 2 bloggers are doing their half, combating in the best way they know finest, particularly within the age of knowledge.
However are they hopeful of a peaceable decision of the Israel-Palestinian battle?
“I’m not very optimistic,” Alhajhasan mentioned, “Illegal settlements are expanding around the West Bank and there is even more brutality towards us. We just continue to live.”