As you can see, there’s not much light relief. But I did manage a couple of days off in Jaffa with Barbara, a lovely Irish woman on the Bethlehem team. It has been incredibly hot in Jerusalem (no rain since April I’m told) and although I can’t actually see the Mediterranean from my roof as I could in Tulkarem, the thought of it being only an hour away is tantalising. There is an acute water shortage in East Jerusalem. The neighbourhoods aren’t green and leafy like those in West Jerusalem or in the settlements. Everything is dry and dusty with litter everywhere. So it was wonderful to go to the sea. We couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous water, with surf just big enough to play in.

As you probably know, Jaffa is the southernmost end of Tel Aviv but its quainter and more mixed Arab/Jewish, and there’s a brilliant backpacker’s hotel in the flea market. The historic centre has gone the way of all such places and is sanitised with posh boutiques and art galleries, but the beach is great for a city beach and we did enjoy letting the tension seep out of our bodies. At the same time I found my mind wandering down the coast to Gaza. It is only a couple of hours drive down the beach, but a universe away in hope.

We got a lift back to Jerusalem on (yet another) bus of Tel Aviv peace activists of all persuasions going to the Jaffa Gate for an Israeli demonstration in support of the Sheikh Jarrah families. To thank them, Mr Ghawi made a fine speech in Hebrew about unity and daring to dream of living together. The peace camp’s power of mobilisation has further waned since Israel veered off to the political right but their support is very important to East Jerusalemites who are so cowed and wary of raising their head above the parapet where they risk arrest or loss of ID. In contrast, the teenage settlers who turned up to disrupt proceedings obviously feel so empowered; they just radiate the pride and sheer enjoyment of being in a common national project. I almost envy them till I remember how mindless they are of the suffering they cause.

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