20% of the city is controlled by Israel. There has been two-way violence here. The atmosphere was absolutely oppressive and my level of fear from our morning visit to the camp did not subside. The first scary moment was when we drove through the checkpoint leading up to the Settlement. There was a possibility that Husam wouldn't be permitted in-- so we held our collective breaths as the checkpoint police scrutinized the bus. Then, at lunch, our host declared that he "didn't hate all Jews"... He was trying to make a point about the gravity of their living conditions -- but it wasn't lost on me.
We closed out the day with a brief visit to S'derot, an Israeli town of 24,000 less than a mile from Gaza, where we heard from the deputy mayor and a Hands of Peace alum. There are many bomb shelters here and it is an everyday routine to run to a shelter with a 15 second warning. The leaders of this relatively small town are doing everything they can to turn it into a cultural hub. We passed a kibbutz and then drove to a Gaza overlook. Everything about this conflict is heart-wrenching.
...and a camel ride-- truly uplifting as I had to climb on a seated camel who steadily lifted me way up! This was quite a different experience from the camel ride in the parking lot of the Oberoi Hotel in Udaipur, India. That one, with Wayne holding on for dear life, was very much more refined!