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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Visit the "relaxed seaside atmosphere" of Gaza

From Al Arabiya:
For your next getaway, you might consider this: four nights and five days in sunny "Palestine: land of miracles."

It's a tough sell for a place that has become synonymous with Middle East violence, for a country not yet a country which does not even control all of its territory, let alone its major tourist attractions.

And yet the figures are up for the third year running. Palestinian tourism ministry records show that some 2.6 million tourists visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 2009.

Bethlehem, home to the Church of the Nativity built on what tradition holds to be the birthplace of Jesus, is the prime attraction.

Still, despite its "Palestine: land of miracles" slogan, the Palestinian tourism ministry says it has more to offer than just holy sites.

Brochures even advise travelers to take in the sites of the Gaza Strip, renowned for its "relaxed seaside atmosphere."
Yes, Gaza is a wonderful, relaxed place to visit.

I also was a tourist who visited "Palestine" last year. Not only did I go to Jerusalem, but also I visited Bethlehem (Rachel's Tomb) and Hebron (the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which the Palestinian Tourism Ministry calls "Abraham’s Mosque – Tomb of Patriarch.") I even bought some souvenirs from a very friendly Arab shop in Hebron, where the proprietors offered coffee and gave Mrs. Elder a chance to use their pottery wheel, amid much laughter (she didn't do a bad job but we are not quite sure what she made.)

It appears, however, that the tourism ministry is counting every visitor to Jerusalem as being a tourist to "Palestine."