Tourist sites in the West Bank: Wish you were here?

“YOU’RE not a village, you’re a national park,” says Daniel Halimi, the deputy planning officer of Israel’s occupation administration in the West Bank, addressing a meeting to decide the fate of Nabi Samuel. The hamlet is trapped on a hilltop in the seam between Israel’s separation barrier and the boundaries of the municipality of Jerusalem. For the villagers, the refusal to recognise their village is part of a plan to erase their protest. They walk out of the meeting in Beit El, a Jewish settlement, on November 24th, 2013.With views overlooking Jerusalem, Ramallah and the Mediterranean Sea, Nabi Samuel’s inhabitants suspect that Israel has been planning their removal since occupying the West Bank in 1967. In the 1970s the army bulldozed most of their homes. In the 1990s the Israeli authorities declared the village a national park and prevented construction or even tree-planting. Now the planning authorities in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El are planning to incorporate the villagers’ mosque, built over the supposed shrine of the Biblical Prophet Samuel, into a tourist site emphasising its Jewish ties.The ruins of the villagers’ stone homes are already part of an archaeological site at the base of their mosque, which is cordoned off with rope and an Israeli sign says date back to biblical times. The part of the mosque …

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