Considerations for Travelling to the West Bank : Travelling to West Bank, or Hebron can be intimidating, especially if you have never been to the Middle East before. In many ways the weather, culture, and atmosphere of the city can feel completely foreign and finding useful information online can be difficult. For any prospective travellers, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind regarding any travels to West Bank, Hebron, or Palestine in general.
For starters, getting into Israel can be a difficult and rather scary process. While not everyone gets questioned, many travellers who plan on heading to the West Bank, Palestinian side are taken aside and subject to further questioning. Any travellers should be prepared to answer questions regarding their purpose for travelling and also expect to be asked to show any and all documents related to their travels and stay. For most individuals, this process passes fairly quickly, but it is not unheard of to be held at the airport for an extended period of time.
Once you have gotten through the security check at the airport, the rest of your adventure can begin and many of the small things that you may not have thought about prior to your travels can become real nuisances if not planned for. For starters, travel can be very difficult if you do not have a map or know how to get around the city. To non-residents, many of the buildings look very similar and there are few street signs. Therefore, it is very important to pick out landmarks right away that may help you to identify exactly where you are. Almost any stranger off the street will help you to find your way if you are truly lost, but not everyone can speak English. Basic Arabic language skills may be enough to ask for directions, but it also will help to have your destinations written down and translated so that there is no confusion in where you are trying to get. Additionally, remember that in Israel, Hebrew is the spoken language and not Arabic. While the English version of most words will be listed on street signs, having your destination translated into Hebrew will also be very helpful.
The weather in Palestine can also be rather unpredictable. During the summer months it is often incredibly hot during the daylight hours. However, it is important to remember that in the city of Hebron, wearing shorts is not allowed. Once it gets dark the weather can cool very fast. Although it may not seem necessary, it is important to bring a jacket or heavy sweatshirt even if you plan to travel in the summer months. This can be especially true if you are going to do any travelling outside of the city into higher elevations, where the air is even cooler.
A final thing to keep in mind when planning to travel to the West Bank, or Palestine is that the diet may be very different from what you are used to. Pig products are completely forbidden in the city of Hebron, as are alcoholic beverages. Beef products are available, but are fairly expensive compared to other food staples. Bread and rice, on the other hand, are usually included in every meal. While this will not be a big hinderance or problem for travellers, it is yet another consideration to make when planning for travel.
Overall, the most important thing for travellers to remember is that Palestine, West Bank, and Hebron more specifically, is a beautiful place with many opportunities to explore and experience the rich culture. While there will be many things that will seem unfamiliar, there are also many things that will be very similar to what you are used to. And hopefully with these prior thoughts in mind, experiencing Hebron for yourself will be just a little easier and less stressful.