Palestine is under an illegal military occupation. Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have huge restrictions placed on their freedom of movement and many are unable to travel. So visiting Palestine and the refugee camps in the Middle East is an important act of solidarity. While it is very difficult to travel to Gaza it is relatively easy to go to the West Bank. You can see for yourself the situation on the ground and act as a “multiplier” by returning and talking to others, formally and informally, about what you’ve seen.
There are many ways of visiting Palestine, and many activities that you can undertake while you are there. Solidarity activities include joining protests against the occupation and volunteering in activities such as olive harvesting and teaching. Going on an educational tour will help to equip you to speak about the situation on your return and to increase awareness in the UK about the situation in Palestine.
Palestine is also an excellent place to study Arabic. Of course with the historical sites, good food and wonderful climate, Palestine is also a great destination for a holiday. Those who visit Palestine learn more about the Palestinians’ life under occupation, while experiencing the country’s rich culture, history and scenery. These visits also result in lasting, lifelong friendships.
The following links provide information on how to organise a trip to Palestine:
- The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities – Tourism.
- Alternative Tourism Group – Tourism.
- The Holy Land Trust – Organises summer camps. Stay with local families while learning the language or doing volunteer work in Bethlehem.
- Zaytoun – Coordinates volunteer olive harvest tours with International Women’s Peace Service.
- The Olive Co-operative – Volunteer with the olive harvest, stay with a local family in Bethlehem, and take Arabic classes (beginners to advanced).
- The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) – In-depth political study tours that visit both sides of the divide; primarily based in Bethlehem.
- Universities Educational Exchange with Palestinians (UNIPAL) – Volunteer English teaching.
- Labour2Palestine – Political visits for Labour Party members.
- Living Stones – Christian pilgrimages.
- Siraj Centre for Holy Land Studies – Travel programs, interfaith, ecumenical dialogue, culture and youth exchange programmes, Arabic courses.
- The Excellence Center in Palestine – Educational centre providing volunteer opportunities, summer camps, internships, visits, and Arabic courses in Hebron.