Copying Settlers, Palestinians Mark West Bank Hiking Trails

Settlers have been using this tactic for years to strengthen their hold on the territory.

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
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A sign placed in the Nahal Refaim area, south of Jerusalem.
A sign placed in the Nahal Refaim area, south of Jerusalem.Credit: Kfar Etzion Field School
Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

Palestinians have begun marking hiking trails and putting up signs for tourist attractions in the West Bank, copying a tactic settlers have employed for years in an effort to strengthen their hold on the territory.

The Palestinian signs and trail markings, in the Nahal Refaim area south of Jerusalem, were first spotted by staff from the field school in the settlement of Kfar Etzion. The signs, in both Arabic and English, point out natural attractions like cliffs and springs. Yaron Rosenthal, the director of the field school, said the Palestinians have also created trails for hikers.

Rosenthal said he was pleased by the Palestinian initiative. “The Nahal Refaim area has a rare concentration of heritage sites, and we’re happy that our Palestinian neighbors have also begun developing a hiking culture,” he said. “I hope that together, we’ll succeed in preserving the unique landscape we received from previous generations, so that future generations will also enjoy it.”

The Kfar Etzion field school has cooperated with the Palestinians for years, albeit with limited success, in battles to preserve traditional Palestinian agricultural areas near Wadi Fukin and Battir, including the fight against the planned route of the separation fence in that area.

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