Sunday, January 8, 2023

If I Didn’t Have Bad Timing I Wouldn’t Have Any!  Nazareth, Israel, January 8, 2023

Thank goodness there was a small heater in my room and I had lots of blankets because it was pretty chilly last night.  I shared a 5 bed room with a woman who was quiet as a mouse so I had a good sleep.  I woke up to sunshine but waited until 10:30 to get moving. 

Fauzi Azar Hostel is very old but beautiful.  The rooms surround a very large lounge-

on the second floor.  The lobby and breakfast room are on the ground floor which has arches, water pools and is open to the sky.  It’s old now but in its heyday would have been something else-

The entrance door-

I didn’t think I could squat low enough to enter with my backpack on!

The sites are all very close together.  Nearby is Mary’s Well-

According to Catholic tradition, it is here where Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would bear the Son of God.  This is called the Annunciation and next door is Saint Gabriel Church aka The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation-

Because it’s Sunday, all churches were in session.  I sat in on the service and was told THEY were the first Christian church.  Who was I to argue?  The church was packed-

and is very beautiful-

During the service they sing all the time a cappella, they seemed to stand up and sit randomly, they shuffled through a crowd to meet the priest who was seated at the front and then on their way out the door they grabbed a piece or three of cake that is “sort of like communion” but not really.  Religion!

I’m staying in Old Nazareth but because it’s Sunday, now it’s the Christian’s day off, so most shops are closed.  Streets are narrow like in Jerusalem but it’s much smaller-

There’s a mural commemorating Shireen Abu Akleh-

who was killed May 11, 2022.  According to Wikipedia, She 
was  a Palestinian- American journalist who worked as a reporter for the Arabic-language channel Al Jazeera for 25 years, and was one of the most prominent names across the Middle East for her decades of reporting in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. Over the course of her career, she reported on numerous major events affecting Palestinians, while also analyzing Israeli politics. Her televised reporting and distinctive sign-offs became common knowledge, and, as a leading journalist in the Arab world, she was a source of inspiration for many other Palestinians and Arabs, particularly as a role model for Arab women intent on pursuing careers in journalism.

On 11 May 2022, while covering a raid by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on the Jenin Refugee camp in the West Bank, Abu Akleh, who was wearing a blue vest with "PRESS" written on it, was shot and killed.  Despite initial reports by her colleagues (including an AFP photojournalist) accusing Israeli soldiers for her death, Israel initially denied responsibility and blamed Palestinian militants. Later, the IDF stated that a probe found that it was possible she had been killed by fire from either the IDF or Palestinians.   Separate investigations were conducted by international news outlets, including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and Bellingcat, as well as by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, all of which concluded that the shot that killed her came from Israeli forces; an independent investigation by CNN concluded that her death was the result of a targeted Israeli killing. Further investigation by the US State Department also concluded she was "likely killed by Israeli fire", though US officials stated there was "no reason to believe" her shooting was intentional.  On 5 September, the IDF admitted a "high possibility" that the journalist was "accidentally hit" by army fire, but said that, despite US requests to do so, it would not undertake a criminal investigation into her death.  Forensic Architecture, a London-based research group, rejected Israel's findings on 20 September, with its investigation finding that she was deliberately targeted, and that sustained shooting indicated "Shireen was actively and deliberately denied medical aid" in the absence of fighting in the area.   In November 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice opened an investigation into the killing, a move that Israel condemned and stated they would not cooperate with.  The manner of her death and the subsequent violent disruption of her funeral drew widespread international condemnation of Israel.  During the funeral, Israeli Police officers attacked pallbearers who were carrying her coffin from the Saint Joseph Hospital in East Jerusalem with batons and stun grenades.  The hospital itself was stormed by Israeli police who hit, shoved, and trampled on patients, threw stun grenades, wounding and causing burns to medical staff.  The facility issued a statement from the Christian Churches of the Holy Land group, representing 15 Christian denominations, stating that the Israeli police's actions constituted "invasion and disproportionate use of force ... (and) a severe violation of international norms and regulations, including the fundamental right of freedom of religion." Her funeral was attended by tens of thousands of Palestinians carrying flags and chanting nationalist songs. It is believed to have been the largest Palestinian funeral in Jerusalem in over twenty years.

The Church of Saint Joseph was built in 1914 on the site of an earlier 12th century church.  Travellers in the 7th century said this was the location of Joseph’s carpentry shop.  The service was in French-

Saint Joseph himself-

Next door is the massive Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation which was built in 1969-

There’s a grotto under the church and they claim this is where Mary received the news of her pregnancy.  There’s been a church in this spot since the 1st century. It’s referred to as “The House of the Virgin Mary” and many inscriptions were left on the walls in early Christianity by pilgrims stating this.  The Basilica is built over the grotto and the ruins of four earlier churches-

Close by is the Synagogue Church which I thought was a funny name until I read the description.  It’s where the Nazareth Synagogue stood and that’s where Jesus preached (Luke 4:16)-

There are lots of churches to see in about an hour and a half, and that’s pretty much what there is to see in Nazareth.

This afternoon I walked around.  There were a few restaurants open but nothing else.  

Fuel is pretty expensive- $3.57 and $2.66-

Cigarettes for sale-


Now that’s a lot of meat-

I’m catching a bus in the morning to Tel Aviv.

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