ISRAEL, PALESTINE WEST BANK, JORDAN, SYRIA, LEBANON.

World Enough Observed……connecting with the people of different lands

contact:  nizarharji@shaw.ca        –          Nizar Harji

nizarharji.travel.blog

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Road trip from Damascus (Syria)  to Beirut  (Lebanon).

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Border of Syria and Lebanon,  Palestinians refugee settlement – family operated   shop.

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Above,  the kindness and hospitality of the Palestinian refugees, they immediately invited me to meet the family and offer of snacks and drinks from their shop and bade farewell with prayers for my safety.

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In Beirut at the promenade  on the Mediterranean coast line. Lebanon  was a flashpoint of constant conflicts, internal political problems between Christians, Muslims and the Shia group –  Hezbollah backed by Syria and large population of Palestinian refugees settled in camps which was under constant Israeli Military attacks.  Israeli Military with their allies in the fragile Government carried out a brutal killing of Palestinians in the refugee camps.
Lebanon was a very unsafe place to be,   one can get caught up  in cross fire from all sides.  A beautiful country plunged in constant conflict.    These mixed group of population kept apart from each other in their own strongholds and different areas they controlled.  Tension was always high.  My exploring was confined to Muslim controlled areas with their Middle Eastern life style.

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A street scene in Beirut along the  Mediterranean  coast line.

SYRIA.

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In Damascus  – the grand Omayyed Mosque. A monument in Islamic architect.. Damascus is the capital of Syria with population of 2.5 million.  It is a city of contrast. Veiled women  in traditional dress walk alongside  women dressed in trendy western clothes.  Old men  in  “galabiehs” traditional attire  pass young men in Levi Jeans and Michael Jackson T-Shirts.   Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.   Historicaly it has been fought over many times and some of the earliest conquerors include  King David of Israel,  the Assyrians in 732 BC, Nebuchadnezzar in 600 BC and then the Persians in 530 BC,  in 333 BC it fell to Alexandr the Great. In 64 BC Syria became a Roman Province.   With coming of Islam   Damascus became an important  centre as the seat of the  “Omayyed  Caliphate” from 661 to 750. When the Abbbasids took over  and moved the Caliphate to Baghdad, Damascus was again plundered . Later Damascus was occupied by Seljuq Turks in 1076 and finally it fell to the Egyptians in 1154.  Then  in 1516 followed a 400 year rule of  the OTTOMAN  Turk until at the end  of First World War with the defeat of Germany  and Turkey. Under the mandate by League Of Nations  France occupied Syria  and Damascus from 1920 to 1945. At the end of Second World War in 1946 with the evacuation of the French forces,  Damascus became the capital of an independant Syria.

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At the university in Damascus –  meeting and discussing with students, their view and thinking on the situation prevailing in the Middle-East.

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Above an overview of Damascus.

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A very pleasant life in Damascus, wonderful eating places with authentic middle eastern cuisine .

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With an elderly shop-keeper in Damascus. People do not have concept of retirement. Their life remains active till the end.

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Each day I passed on the same street, this little boy was there doing colouring.  I did not know if he was expecting money from the passers by or he was just parked there by his parents when they went out to work. I tried to talk with him and  I could sense and feel the deep sadness in his eyes.  I was tempted to give him some money, but in that society  it is risky to be missunderstood and foreigners could cross the cultural norms and be easily in trouble. My  prayers went for this little boy.  It was a mystery to me why this innocent looking boy was there everyday.

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From Damascus motoring to Aman,  Jordan and on to  PETRA via the Dessert Highway.  The SUNSET shining on the vast Dessert sand, the solitude and quietness was an experience to be thankful to Allah.

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From Aman to PETRA  – a U.N. heritage site of  ancient civilisation. The excavation is in progress with more findings  being unearthed.  A ruined capital of Nabataeans – Arabs who dominated the Tranasjordan area in Pre-Roman times – and they carved these elaborate buildings and tombs out of the solid rocks, including 3000 seat amhitheatre.   Walking around in silence you  get the feeling of the past era.

Driving from Aman to Petra on a Dessert Highway,  sun- set reflecting on the golden dessert sand, the  sheer  beauty of the nature cannot be described in any words, there are no sufficient words to glorify the Creator. If I were a painter  I would not have sufficient colours to select to give effect to this glorious beauty.  If I were a poet I would not have adequate words to do justice to this enormous beauty of the Creator.  It touches the Soul, heart and mind and you feel closest to the Creator.

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Among the visitors at PETRA,  with a colossal ancient architecture discovery in the background.  The sheer size and magnitude and the details of the monument is astonishing. One can only imagine the skills of the people who constructed this.

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Scene of  the PETRA  discovery.

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Below at WADI RUM on the way to  AQUBA port (Jordan).

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Wadi Rum has a  spectacular desert scenery. There is no hotel in this area.

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Scene at the AQBA port, JORDAN   at the border point  of Eilat in ISRAEL.

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With people of AQBA, Jordan. It is a great tourist spot for the people in the Region from Arab countries.

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At AQBA with my driver. The last point in Jordan at the border of Israel. To cross into Israel you have to walk pulling your luggage to its check point into Eilat. Here you go through severe interrogation by Israeli  Military before they  decide to let you in.

ISRAEL.

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Overview of  JERUSALEM.

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A street scene in JERUSALEM.

Below JEWS WAILING WALL  in EAST JERUSALEM. They touch their foreheads to the wall as their prayers ritual.

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Above at the DOME OF THE ROCK, a holly site for the Muslims. It was  from here PROPHET MOHAMED ascended Spiritually to meet the Creator.  For Muslims walking inside the Dome has deep Spiritual meaning  and satisfaction.  Inside the Dome, ceilings have bullet marks, an attack by Israeli military on worshippers.

Below at the gate of the ancient Al AQSA MOSQUE , a holy site for MUSLIMS.  Often a site of bloodshed by Israeli Military on Muslim worshippers.

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At the restaurant in RAMALAH, West Bank PALESTINE.

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In NAZARETH, in front of the Church of Nativity, believed to be  the birthplace of Prophet Jesus Christ. Believed to be home of Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus.

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A Palestinian Wedding in RAMALAH, West Bank Palestine.

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With my driver  in Israel and Palestine.

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Some of the stunning houses belonging to the Palestinians in the West Bank.

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At the  DEAD SEA in Israel, the lowest point on earth. The water in the Dead Sea is so heavy with salt that one cannot sink down under the water, you just remain floating. The Dead Sea contains  20 times as much Bromine, 15 times as much magnesium and 10 times as much iodine. Bromine a component of many sedatives relaxes the nerves. All these is said to  have health beneficial effect.

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At the  MASADA IN ISRAEL.  A deep climb up by foot. Masada has historical significance for Jews. Located high above the Dead Sea.  Masad in Hebrew means stronghold. It was built as refuge and fortified against attack by the Romans : Cleopatra and Mark Anthony and kept under siege.  In 66 AD  the Jews rose up against the Romans that had surrounded them, a group of  Jews Zealots defended the  Masada to death. It was finally over run by the Romans. At the time there were inside Masada  967 men, women and children when at the point of being over run by the Romans all  committed mass suicide and only ten Zealots remained defending and finally to die.

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In West Bank Palestine at the street walk Café.

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With head gear of Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

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At the home of a Palestinian family. Very kind compassionate, generous people.  In a  long talk they enlightened me with the existing situation in Palestine and the brutality of Israeli Military on their daily  lives. Their affection was heart warming and their hospitality to serve KAHAVA  (café) and various home made sweets.

Talking with many other Palestinians, listening to their heartfelt stories of oppressed life, one can only admire their courage to continue their long  struggle and their hope of having their own State. Their strong faith in this and their resistance against all odds cannot be extinguished.

ALL PHOTS ARE COPYRIGHT.

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