world map

Israel / Palestine

date of entry 14/08/2007
mileage 601,724

Israel

capital Jerusalem

area 22.380 (Kernland) km²

population 8.193.900

GDP 291,5 Bill. US-Dollar

official language Hebrew/Arabic

Palestine

capital Ramallah/East Jerusalem

area 6.242 km²

population 4.332.881

official language Arabic/Hebrew

Driving overland from Europe to Israel in your own vehicle is not easy. The route through Turkey and Lebanon or Syria is closed, and only the border with Jordan is open. The Holtorfs entered here, and later continued by ship to Cyprus. Apart from ultra-modern Israel, they also visited the Palestinian territories, and were particularly moved by the high wall enclosing them. They also went to the Golan Heights, but didn’t venture into the Gaza Strip. At the border post, they were told that the guards would rather shoot than ask any questions.
  • … and so is traffic chaos
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  • Otto at the Yitzhak Rabin border crossing from Aqaba to Eilat. Gunther and Christine visited the Holy Land in 2007 and 2010. They could enter overland only from Jordan or Egypt.
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  • Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is a holy place for all three monotheistic religions. Mohammed reputedly ascended into heaven from here, and Christians believe this is where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac. Centre left: the Al-Aqsa mosque. Right: the golden Dome of the Rock.
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  • The second Jewish temple, built by King Herod, once stood here, but it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D and never rebuilt. Only the western wall of the temple plateau has survived: this is the Wailing Wall, the most sacred place in Judaism.
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  • The Basilica of Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane is where Jesus of Nazareth is traditionally believed to have prayed before he was betrayed by Judas. The inscription comes from Hebrews 5:7: "During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission."
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  • The 250-metre-high Terraces of the Baha’i Faith are the most important sight in the port of Haifa, and have been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
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  • The shrine of the Bab, in the centre, is where the founder of the Baha’i religion is buried. Baha’i is rooted in Islam, but its adherents do not regard Mohammed as the last prophet.
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  • Highway 4 leads from northern Israel to the Gaza Strip. In the Palestinian war of 1948, one hundred and thirty inhabitants of the Yad Mordechai kibbutz (in the background) defended it against a much larger force of Egyptian troops.
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  • Satellite dishes and solar panels are everywhere you look in Israel…
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  • Video 1: Israel: a high-security democracy
  • Video 2: Gaza Strip: too risky
  • Video 3: The West Bank: an audience with the interior minister