27. Jacir Palace junction
Bethlehem, West Bank - Palestine
Giclée print on Hahnemuhle photo rag paper
21 x 30 cm
5/5 edition (+ AP)
A Palestinian woman passes an Israeli border guard who just fired a tear gas canister at youths throwing stones near the Jacir Palace Hotel in Bethlehem. The majestic looking hotel sits close to the Separation Barrier and its guard tower next to Rachel's tomb.
The building was constructed in 1910 for the prominent merchant and ex mayor of Bethlehem, Suleiman Jacir. Suleiman was also the great grandfather of renown Palestinian artist Emily Jacir. In the last century it has been used as a school building and a prison by the British in the 40s. During the first Intifada it was used as an observation post and base by the Israeli army, due to its position on Hebron road and location between the two refugee camps, Aida and al Azza. In 2000, the Jacir Palace became a hotel.
Over the years, the area surrounding the Jacir Palace has been a site of frequent clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces. During a spike in violence in the West Bank between October and December 2015, clashes took place on a near daily occurrence in the area with casualties and deaths of Palestinians occurring. Despite the frequency of the clashes and large scale use of tear gas, locals attempted to continue their lives as normal around and through the violence. It was not uncommon to see cars and taxis driving through the clashes. There would be temporary 'pauses' in the exchange of stones, marbles, tear gas and rubber bullets to allow members of the community to pass unharmed (such as the woman in the image).
The violence of the clashes has had a highly negative impact on tourism in Bethlehem. It was a sentiment echoed by numerous business owners I met in Bethlehem. For a community that relies on tourists and pilgrims to sustain its economy, any event which drives tourists away is disastrous. In the years since, the Israeli government have given incentives to tour companies which lodge their customers in Israeli business in Jerusalem instead of overnight in Bethlehem adding pressure to the local economy.