Today, I drove from Qalandia — the major crossing between Jerusalem and Ramallah — past Beit El and beyond, on a remarkably good road (not West Bank standards at all), heading up in a northerly direction to Tappuah junction, and past a string of four or five settlements. These places give the words “gated communities” a new meaning. They are filled with red-tiled roofed homes arranged neatly in an orderly way, and there are telephone poles with lines interspersed with Orange balls in a way that reminds me of the ways used to make sure you don’t get lost that is mentioned in children’s fairy tales.
I turned toward the East at Tappuah, and headed toward the Jordan valley. More settlements appeared, on a nearly Israeli-only road sealed with barbed-wire topped mesh fences to keep Palestinians in their fields, and off the road. When I reached “Gandhi’s road”, the main north-south route in the Jordan valley named after the assassinated Israeli Minister of Tourism who called for deportation of Palestinians, I turned south, going toward Jericho, and passing the road to the Allenby Bridge along the way.
At the intersection of the east-west road going between the Dead Sea and Jerusalem, I almost chose the Dead Sea — until I saw the checkpoint. Nope, I will not cross a checkpoint just to get to the Dead Sea. So, I turned instead in the direction of Jerusalem.
What I saw was a situation beyond redemption. There is a string of settlements going in every direction you look, all across and up and down the West Bank.