Palestine includes parts of the West Bank, and all of the Gaza Strip, and is known as the Palestinian Territories. Although this is an important historical and cultural destination with a number of attractions for tourists, travel into the area just for tourism is highly discouraged.
Commonly known as the Gaza Strip, this small area of land is on the Mediterranean Sea coast and bordering with Egypt.
The Strip has become the home of many thousands of refugees and as such visitors will find makeshift towns where conditions and hygiene are far from healthy. Having said this, Gaza City does have a couple of hotels and restaurants which are usually kept running by the large number of journalists in the area.
Gaza City is towards the northern end of the Strip, and is situated on the coast. Much of what would have been a nice city 50 years ago has been damaged during the years of conflict, but there is one site that might be of interest: The Great Mosque. Visitors shouldn’t expect anything too lavish from the mosque, but it has a long and important history.
The West Bank
The West Bank is a very important area in terms of Biblical history. It is called West bank because it’s situated on the west bank of the Jordan River. This is a far larger area than the Gaza Strip, and although this is an Arab enclave, it too is occupied by the Israeli’s.
West Bank includes parts of Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, as well as the equally famous city of Bethlehem. As would be expected, the majority of places of interest to tourists in Bethlehem are biblically related. The most popular is the Church of the Nativity, on Manger Square. This fortified church was built on top of the cave in which Jesus was allegedly born. This cave, called the Grotto of the Nativity, is accessible from inside the Franciscan Church of St Catherine, which dates from 1881, and is located next door to the older Nativity Church.
The second most important religious site in Bethlehem is Rachel’s Tomb, plus there are a number of less significant sites to see as well.
Within West Bank tourists may also find the Qumran National Park and the Dead Sea of interest. Qumran is the site at which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.