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A visit to Bethlehem
[Daily Edition]
Jerusalem Post - Jerusalem
Author: NEILL LOCHERY
Date: Dec 25, 2002
Start Page: 09
Section: Opinion
Abstract (Document Summary)

Visiting the West Bank in 2002 has been extremely depressing. Ignoring the political question of who is to blame for all the mess the personal tragedies on both sides are extremely moving. A common theme is that nobody really wants to be there. Israeli teenage soldiers carry out their duty without any real enthusiasm. Many young Palestinians are considering going to work abroad to earn much needed foreign currency. With the Israeli labor market all but closed to Palestinians (thousands used to cross the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank to work in Israel proper) this option has become all the more appealing.

Piece by piece the infrastructure of the West Bank is being torn apart. Here both parties are to blame. Israeli tanks have all but broken the EU-sponsored roads and pavements in Ramallah. From time to time Palestinian youths use the cracked pieces of paving stone to hurl at passing Israeli soldiers. The truth, however, is that this is no intifada, but rather a war zone where there are frequent running gun battles between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers and tanks. As a result, the physical damage to the West Bank is much greater than during the intifada between 1987 and 1992.

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