Nablus and Balata Refugee Camp


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“Dangerous to your lives”- signs that stood at every entry to Palestinian territory

What I wanted from my visit to Israel was to get a better insight into the Middle Eastern conflict, and I got thag today after visiting Balata, the biggest refugee camp in Palestine. I was a tiny bit worried about security walking by myself, so when I got to the closest town Nablus I went into the Yafo Cultural Center to ask if someone could walk with me and got a local who did not speak any English to take me around for about half an hour. Walking around in the very narrow streets I saw how over crowded the camp was. With over 20 000 people they had two schools and one tiny hospital with two doctors, both built by the UN. Children were running around using sticks and whatever they could find to play war, clearly inspired by the posters hanging everywhere of Saddam Hussein and other popular martyrs.
Towards the end of our walk I met Jamas, a guy who had grown up there, but had lives in Stjørdal, Norway since 2009 but was back in Palestine for a few days to visit his sick mother. Jamas invited me into his home for coffee and biscuits. He told me his family story, from his father being driven from his home in Haifa in 1948, and settled in Balata where Jamal and his parents were born and had run a shop that was twice destroyed by Israeli soldiers during the second entifada war when he had decided to escape. He was now happy to have made it to Norway where he also managed to get the rest of his family too.
After the coffee he drove we around the city of Nablus to show me the different areas including the Israeli settlements. The visit and stories from Balata and Nablus had been quite tough to hear first hand but has given me a unique insight into the conflict from the Palestinian side. I think all news reports from the Middle East will be more personal for me to hear about from now on.

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Houses were built so close together, due to the lack of space that it was only possible for one person to go through the most narrow streets at a time.


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