Introduction: Palestine rarely makes the news in Indian media. When it does, it is usually because "clashes" or “hostilities” have flared up yet again. Knee-jerk sentiments are often quick to ascribe Palestinians with “terrorism”. The reality is that the Palestinians are an exceptionally warm and welcoming people.

Perceptions about Palestine are too often shaped by lack of information or by propaganda. It is easy to dehumanise those we are ignorant about.

This 10-part series on Palestine consists of photographs from East Jerusalem and the West Bank taken by the author during a visit in early 2018. They convey varied aspects of Palestine’s natural beauty, her ancient and unique history, Palestinian art, education and culture, and the grim realities of their lives under Israeli military occupation.

In part one, we look at urban Palestine.

[Below: A map of West Bank, Gaza and Israel (L); the West Bank (R). Courtesy: palestinett.org]

Palestine map

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Bustling cities, crawling peak hour traffic, street-side vendors and measured chaos evoke a distinct sense of familiarity for an Indian traveller in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank of Palestine. The warmth of the Palestinians, the spontaneous invitations into their homes and their lives, and the modest sizes of their cities lend them a disarming intimacy.

The images below are a snapshot of Palestinian lives in urban settings.

Busy commercial parts of the city of Nablus in northern West Bank:

Nablus is built on hilly terrain like many other cities and towns in the West Bank. A mosque with a green dome rises in the center:

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A vegetable market in Ramallah:

The Al-Manara square in the city centre of Ramallah, the interim capital of Palestine:

A fresh-pressed fruit juice kiosk at the Al-Manara square in Ramallah. These are very popular among Palestinians:

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A tastefully done up café in the Old Town district of Ramallah:

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A street in the city of Bethlehem, West Bank. The city is home to the famed Church of the Nativity, the birth place of Jesus Christ. The sign indicates drive straight for Jerusalem:

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Life in the Palestinian-majority East Jerusalem, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967:

Palestinian homes in the Old Town of Hebron. It is sacred to both Muslims and Jews as it is believed to be the final resting place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives:

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Jericho, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world with a history stretching back an astounding 11,000 years. Located 850 feet below sea level, it is also the lowest city in the world:

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See more from the series here

Chirag Dhara is a theoretical physicist-turned-climate change scientist. He is keenly interested in the Palestinian situation, and visited the occupied West Bank for three months in early 2018 in solidarity with the Palestinians. He can be contacted through his Palestine travel blog or Instagram page.

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