I headed for another weekly protest against the wall encroaching upon a small village 13 kilometers from Bethlehem. My taxi driver, Osama, who prefers “Obama”, and speaks great english, approached cautiously towards the village, as he didn’t want to push his luck and possibly be questioned by the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) that were in position there. I got out and walked to the town thinking I’d see other protesters I had been told would be there. To not draw attention to myself as a potential demonstrator, I took a picture of a cow, as if surprised to see one, like a dumb tourist, then I passed the soldiers face forward, blithely looking at the scenery.
As I strolled down the village center, residents standing outside their homes and shops looked as if they were ready for a parade, so I reckoned I was in the right spot. Many protests this week and especially today in many towns in the West Bank have resulted in 6 Palestinian deaths, so I wasn’t looking to do anything remarkable. These soldiers are young and nervous. Many accidents occur from inexperience and fear.
The soldiers seemed to ignore me, then suddenly a sound bomb went off. Was it practice, or was it a signal that they were there to do business? I didn’t flinch. I walked another 100 yards and walked back after seeing no “comrades”. The soldiers for the most part began to disappear as well.
I hung around the village and watched them butcher some sheep and goats. This is the last Friday of Ramadan, so there will be plenty of eating and celebrating after sunset tonight, and many came to buy ¼ of an animal.
I enjoyed the hill views on the bus ride back to bethlehem. I found a barber in Bethlehem. He charged me about $8.50 and asked if I liked coffee. He called up an order and we sat after the haircut for 20 minutes chatting over the coffee, in Arabic, with a enough English for me to understand he had 5 children, all of whom went to university, though he never finished school. A wonderful man, and a great haircut! He asked me to come back to visit.