With the Old City of Jerusalem at the centre and bearing the brunt of the fiercest fighting, the land that lies on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea,south of the Lebanon, North of Egypt and west of Jordan, has been the stage of claim and counter-claim, war, attack and counter attack for thousands of years. Known officially today as Israel, although vehemently denied by resident Palestinians, the true ownership of the land is still a hotly debated topic.
Even the last 100 years have seen huge changes in the region largely as a result of outside influence, legacy issues from WWII and devastating military action:
On a trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank, it is impossible to avoid the weight of history and sense of tension on every street you walk and in every face you meet.
The following five photos were taken in Jerusalem and the West Bank; they attempt to show the diversity and divide in a complicated land:
Symbolism at Every Turn
There is a sense of history and importance on every corner in the Old City of Jerusalem. There are religious symbols and paraphernalia in front of you at every turn, each side staking a claim. This picture is of a star of David drawn with chalk on a wall in an alley in the Old City.
Jewish Solidarity and Exclusivity
The Jewish people are very proud of their religion and it has resulted in a very close and sometimes self centered community. In this picture I captured Jewish men celebrating the end of Shabbat at the wailing wall.
It is an amazing sight at the end of Shabbat to see hundreds of Jewish people flocking the Wailing Wall to pray silently. They are joined by stony faced security forces and bemused looking tourists. This tourist was standing on the opposite side of the security fence surrounding the wall area, watching proceedings.
Dome Looms Large
The eternal divide. The wall is a sacred place for Jews but even here it is impossible to ignore the great Muslim interest in this city. As night falls and both Jews and tourists visit, the Dome on the Rock stands proudly beyond the wailing wall.
Separation Wall Graffiti
The seperation wall built around Bethlehem and other Palestinian areas of the West Bank is a source of annoyance and pain for residents of these areas. A walk around the wall is an opportunity to see some beautiful pro-Palestine graffiti.