On Tour - Gridlock in Ramallah & Flowing Traffic in Nablus

Fred Schlomka
Ramadan is now over and the festivities of Eid have concluded. The streets of Ramallah were full of people decked out in their holiday finery for the end of the holiday. Participants in the Ramallah tour last Thursday were surprised to see the varieties of beautiful Hijabs (head coverings) worn by many women, demonstrating that fashion and religious/cultural observance are compatible.

The only problem on the Ramallah tour was the incredible traffic jam leading out of the city at the Kalandia Checkpoint. It seemed like half the Palstinians in teh West Bank were either entering or leaving the city. It took almost 3 hours to exit into the West Bank, compared to the usual 20-minute drive. The problem was the lack of traffic lights at three critical intersections. Gridlock doesn't begin to describe the chaos.

Another surprise was on the Friday tour to the Central West Bank. On arrival at the Huwara checkpoint to Nablus, most cars were passing through with only a cursory discussion with the Israeli soldiers. On discussion with the soldiers we learned that the checkpoint was open to all-comers for the Eid holiday, including Israelis, even Jewish israelis. By military order Israeli Jews are barred from entering Nablus, which is in Area 'A' under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

I decided against entering Nablus with the group for safety reasons since the policy of ToursInEnglish.com is not to enter Area 'A' without being accompanied by a Palestinian guide. Besides, the itinerary for the day did not include such a excursion.

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