Do you remember the lady from my hotel in Sukhumi? The one who seemed to enjoy scolding me for treating the place “like a hotel”?
George R Mitchell
“Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
Governed by Hamas, whose long-held aim is the destruction of Israel, the Gaza Strip is home to almost two million people. It has been under severe blockade by Israel for more than 10 years.
After a few weeks back home, visiting Peterhead Prison and interviewing the brave ex-prison warder Jackie Stuart, it was time to leave the UK again. And that’s me until Christmas.
Built in 1888, Peterhead Prison housed some of Scotland’s hardest and most violent men for the next 125 years. It didn’t close its doors until 2013.
Built in 1888, Peterhead Prison housed some of Scotland's hardest and most violent men for the next 125 years.
After numerous weeks in Israel and the West Bank, I actually went back into Gaza for a second time and another three days. I finally left at 8am, going once again through the immense security to enter Israel. It’s so tight right now with all the recent killings on the Gaza border. On the Israeli side, I had no option but to take a taxi for 150 USD, direct to Tel Aviv airport; ouch that hurt the old pocket.
Inon Dan Kehati is an ex-Israeli Defence Force soldier. He was recommended to me by a friend, so I personally met with him in Jerusalem. We spent two hours together talking and drinking coffee. However, due to time constraints and other commitments at the time, this interview was done via Skype, after I had left Israel.
To get a real feel for division between Palestinians and Jews, I was told by friends in the West Bank to go to Silwan, a predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem’s old city.
As mentioned last week, it’s the Israeli settlements that seem to inflame Palestinians most in the West Bank. Combine these settlements with armed-to-the teeth IDF soldiers, put there to protect said settlers, it’s a powder keg, just waiting to go off.
“Settlements”, or as some of my Jewish friends call them, “communities”, are groups of houses built by Israel on land it has occupied since the 1967 war. These settlements are more controversial than religion, checkpoints and even the blockade of The Gaza Strip.
What is the first image that springs to your mind when you hear the words refugee camp? I’d guess something along the lines of people crossing borders as they flee war, then ending up living in white UN tents in the desert?
The things we take for granted? Oh, after my time in the Gaza Strip, it dawned on me, just how much we really do take for granted in our everyday lives.
At certain times each day, it was just Rami and me, but we were always at some point joined by others he knew. A great bunch of guys who I got to know well.
This was supposed to be a column all about fishermen, but I’ve simply got to let you know about this instead . . .
Hebron, or Al Khalil as it’s known in Arabic, is a city in the southern West Bank.
I was based in the West Bank, Palestine, where there’s been an increase in violence over the past few months.
Note to self while writing this column: George, be very careful not to offend the majority of people who read this, as most will have smartphones and use social media to some extent.