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Facts about Israel, Palestine & Jordan

Traveling I always bring with me pen and paper to write down everything I see or learn. There is a particular sheet, of the many that I carry, which I call Facts where I write things I didn’t know and I want to remember about the country where I am traveling.

The fact is that now I was rereading what I wrote in this paper about Israel, Palestine and Jordan, and … Why not sharing them with you? Here they are.
 

About Israel:

  • For easy identification, the Israelis have a blue cover on the ID card, while the Palestinians have it green.
  • Although the capital of Israel is Jerusalem there is no country with the embassy there, due to the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, being all them in Tel Aviv or around.
  • Military service in Israel is compulsory, and it is 3 years for men and 2 years for women. It usually begins before starting college at the age of 18.
  • If you’re not Jewish, you have no obligation to do military service.
  • Years ago it was very common to see soldiers hitchhiking when they were allowed to go home, but the government forbade it because they were easy targets for pro-Palestinian revolutionaries and some of them were kidnapped.
  • When crossing the border on foot or by car, there is a departure fee.

 

About Palestine:

  • The capital should be East Jerusalem but given the fact that it is totally occupied by Israel, it is Ramallah.
  • The Palestinians do not have their own currency, so they use the Israeli Shekel (NIS) and to a lesser extent the Jordanian Dinar (JD).
  • Since November 2012, Palestine is a “non-member observer state” in the UN.
  • The Palestinians have their own passport issued by the Palestinian National Authority and is recognized internationally.
  • The vast majority of West Bank Palestinians still have Jordanian passport, that was given to them when Jordan annexed their land four decades ago.
  • The citizens of Gaza Strip used to have Egyptian passport, since Egypt gave it to them when they annexed it. Unlike Jordan, they withdrew their passports when they lost Gaza Strip.
  • The border between the West Bank and Jordan is also under Israeli military control, thus there are three controls when you go through it: The Jordanian,  the Israelian and the Palestinian.
  • After many years of opening and closing the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian government indefinitely closed it nearly two years ago.
  • Palestine had an international airport in Gaza Strip which was destroyed by the Israeli air force in 2001. It has another civil airport, also in Gaza, which is blocked by Israel.
  • So Gaza Palestinians live basically locked, since neither they have active airports nor they cannot physically cross the borders of Egypt or Israel.

 

About Jordan:

  • If you arrive by plane to Jordan Aqaba Airport, you are granted free visa. 
  • If a Jordanian male marries a foreigner, she will immediately get the nationality. If a Jordanian female marries a foreigner, neither her husband nor the children will have Jordanian nationality.
  • No departure time for most buses. They leave when full.
  • On the bus men sit with men and women with women, not mixed.
  • More than half of Jordan’s population are descendants of Palestinian refugees who emigrated in the wars of 1948 and 1967.
  • Amman has grown so much in recent years that has ended up absorbing many of the Palestinian refugee camps around it.
  • Palestinian refugees and their descendants, from last years can apply for a visa to visit Palestine. Although they have to ask it to Israel and in many cases will be denied.
  • It is estimated that in Jordan there are more than one million refugees from Syria because of the war in which their country is involved.