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The Landscape of the southern West Bank


The southern West Bank landscape

The West Bank has two halves, with Jerusalem placed between them - its natural capital. Except it isn't the capital, and the Israelis are deliberately seeking to separate and isolate the two halves from each other and from Jerusalem, by building separation walls and a large settlement complex, Ma'ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem and a new orbital town to it, built largely on the land of the Jahalin Bedouin.

The southern West Bank comprises two main parts - the area around Hebron and that around Bethlehem, in which there are many small towns and villages. South of Hebron the hills are semi-desert (bordering on the Negev, southwards), yet there is a lot of growing there, especially of grapes, whereas around Bethlehem the landscape is hilly, with a lot of herding and market gardening.

The area is eaten into by the Etzion settlement bloc, west of Bethlehem and north of Hebron, where the Israelis are seeking to separate Hebron from Bethlehem by building settlements - this is a mixed Palestinian-Israeli area where Palestinians are slowly being forced out or confined.

Two interesting places are featured here. Tuwani is a rural village south of Hebron where the villagers are locked in a struggle with ideological Israeli settlers - the villagers are responding by developing their village and its farming, and with a women's embroidery project exporting products to USA.

The Herodeon (Herodium) is an ancient site southeast of Bethlehem which was an impressive fortified palace in the time of Herod the Great 2,000 years ago - affording fine views over the surrounding landscape. This was the site of one of the ancient Jews' last stands, when the Romans were ejecting them from this land after a series of revolts.

NEXT: The Landscape of the Northern West Bank

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