Visit to Jerusalem, Palestine and Israel


Palestine and Israel have been attracting me since my young days. Jerusalem in particular has been cradle of three monotheist religions of the world, namely, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In World War I the Ottoman Empire was also defeated by Allied powers bringing end of Turkish rule in Palestine, Arab world and other places. Britain got mandate of League of Nations to rule over Palestine. The World War II also brought upheaval in the world. After the war, victorious allied forces resorted to arbitrary decision and imposed their decisions in many parts of the world. Western powers led by USA decided to create a State of Israel on the basis of Declaration of British Foreign Secretary Balfour. In 1948 Israel was created in Palestine. In 1967 there was a war between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Israel with the support of USA crushed the neighbouring countries and annexed their territories. It also occupied Jerusalem which has been centre of sacred religious activities of three religions. I wanted to see for myself the state of affairs in Israel and Palestine.

History of Jerusalem

The first settlement in Jerusalem is known in early Bronze Age around 3,500 BC.

King David conquered Jerusalem in around 1,000 BC and made it the capital of Jewish Kingdom also called Kingdom of David. His son, Solomon built the first holy Temple of Mount about 40 years later.

During its long history, Jerusalem has been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times and destroyed twice.

The Oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BC. There has been claim of Jews that the Temple of Mount was destroyed twice. The first Temple of Mount was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II in 587 BC, then rebuilt by Nebamiah in 445 BC. The Second Temple of Mount was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 BC. In later centuries the western portion of destroyed structure became the focus of Jewish pilgrimage and mourning. The Western Wall or Wailing Wall is considered the holiest place of Judaism and Jewish people.

In 326 AD, Helena of Constantinople visited Jerusalem, identified the sites associated with Jesus’ life and ordered building of churches such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, etc.

In 638 AD Jerusalem was conquered by Muslims led by Umar Bin Khattab, who are alleged to have built the Dome of the Rock over ruins of the Temple of Mount commemorating the Meraj, Ascension of Prophet Mohammad. It was built by Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan in the last 7th century. It is the oldest Islamic monument. The rock over which the shrine was built is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Another monument adjacent to the Dome of Rock is Al Aqsa Mosque which was built on site 3000 years BC or  even before that at the time of creation of the world, as claimed by the Mufti of Jerusalem.

On the instruction of Pope Urban II Jerusalem was stormed and captured by Crusaders in 1099 but later reclaimed by Salahuddin Ayubi in 1187 after three wars of Crusaders lasting for about a century. Later Jerusalem was ruled by Mameluke dynasty and then went under rule of Ottoman Empire.

In modern age Ottoman Empire ruled Jerusalem and much of the Middle East from about 1516 to 1917. After WWI Great Britain took over Jerusalem which was part of Palestine at that time. The British Foreign Secretary made Balfour Declaration for settlement for Jews of the world in new State of Israel which was carved out of Palestine in 1948.

On 13th May 2018 I attended a seminar on Indo-Israel relations at New Delhi in which the Ambassador of Israel Daniel Carmon spoke at length about emergence, development, importance and strategic role of Israel. He was of the view that Israel was an open country free for tourists to see for themselves. I decided to visit Israel and Palestine and see that part of the world.

On 10th July I checked-in at Egypt Air counter of Cairo Airport for Sinai Air Flight 4D54 and cleared immigration. STD of my flight was 0855 hours. I got seat no. 28A. After intensive security clearances at Gate H-1, I boarded the aircraft Embroyer 170 at 08:45 AM. This was small aircraft still many seats were empty. The travel from Cairo to Tel Aviv Yofo was about 1 hr. and the plane fly mostly over Mediterranean Sea. I landed at Bengurion International Airport Tel Aviv Yofo. Without hassles I could go out of the Airport and took Sherut taxi service on payment of NIS 64 per person. The drive was about 60 Kms. On the way I saw beautiful bungalows and apartments mostly on hills, constructed after 1967. The roads were superb. The first impression of the town-planning showed inspiration from America, even better.

As I came closer to Jerusalem the density of the population and housing areas became thicker. After travelling Jerusalem from modern township to Old City there was more thick township. I passed by the Israel Parliament Knessete and Supreme Court. On the way I also saw signboard displaying US Embassy. Along with it was another signboard which said “Donald Trump Makes Israel Great”. This is because few months back USA shifted its Embassy to Jerusalem.

I reached Damascus Gate in Muslim quarters of Jerusalem where I de-boarded the shuttle service. From there I sent WhatsApp messages to Nazeer Ansari trustee of Indian Hospice. He guided me to reach there. After about 30 meters walk I reached Herod’s Gate and again after walking for 5 minutes somebody guided me to reach Indian Hospice.

Navtej Sarna an IFS officer and former ambassador of India to Israel, he later became India’s High Commissioner to UK and Ambassador to USA, wrote a novel on its background named ‘The Indians at the Herod’s Gate, A Jerusalem Tale’.

History of Indian Hospice, Jerusalem :

The Indian presence in Jerusalem could be traced back to over 800 years ago when a well-known Indian Walli Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar (1173-1265) from Kothewal village in the Punjab region of the Chauhan Dynasty, a direct descendant of the second Caliph of Islam, came for pilgrimage to the Holy Land as part of his 18-year tour of some Islamic countries. When Baba Farid was only a few years old being taught prayer by his mother, he asked her what was gained by prayer. His mother replied ‘Sugar’. She used accordingly to hide some sugar under his prayer-carpet, and, when he had finished his prayers, draw it from under, and give it to him as a reward for his devotion. One day his mother forgot to put the sugar but after the boy’s prayer, there was sugar under the carpet. From that day on, Bibi Miriam, his mother, started calling her son, Ganjshakar, or the treasury of sugar. During his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, impressed by his piety, the local Islamic community offered him as accommodation during his stay in Jerusalem a property comprising two small rooms attached to a mosque. While at the property, Baba Faridduddin took the “Chilla”, the word stems from the Persian, Urdu word for 40 symbolizing the number of days spent in seclusion in prayer. After his departure, these two rooms and the mosque became a pilgrimage site for Indian pilgrims visiting the Holy City. This site, which became known as “Zawiya Al-Faridiah,” was dedicated as a charitable Wakf property in trust for a pious purpose. With time, further Indian donations brought the area of the Hospice to the present seven dunums (seven thousand square meters), located inside the Old City of Jerusalem, opposite Bab Al-Zahera (Herod’s Gate) and only minutes away from the holiest sites of the three monotheistic religions. This area came to be known by Indian pilgrims as “Al-Zawiya Al-Hindiya, the Indian Hospice, referring to a place where travelers and pilgrims could find rest and comfort. In addition to this location in Jerusalem some Indian visitors also bought property in the city of Gaza and offered it to the Indian Hospice trust in Jerusalem. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Great Brian was designated by the League of Nations as the mandatory power in Palestine with Jerusalem as the administrative capital. The Islamic High Supreme council was established in Jerusalem to supervise Islamic affairs and places.

The Council was headed at that time by Al-Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Palestine. In 1922, the Council sent a delegation to India to collect donations for the renovation of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Members of the delegation met with some Indian leaders of the All India Khilafat Movement represented by The Ali Brothers; Maoulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar, who died in London on the 3rd of January 1931 and was buried upon his request at Al-Aqsa Mosque and his brother Maoulana Shoukat Ali Jauhar, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari and Hakim Ajmal Khan, with whom they also discussed the affairs of the Indian Hospice. They conveyed to the Indian leaders the urgent need for a reliable and well-qualified Indian representative to reside in Jerusalem and to be the official delegate of India in order to administer and supervise the Indian Hospice. The late Sheikh Nazir Hassan Ansari (1880-1951) from Ambehta, Saharanpur U.P., being a member in the All India Khilafat Movement, was delegated for this position. This appointment was based upon the desire of the Indian Leaders to develop and strengthen links between them and their brothers in the Arab countries and especially in Palestine. He was sent to Jerusalem in 1924. The choice of Skeikh Ansari was welcomed by all the members of the Islamic Supreme Council in Jerusalem and they proclaimed him the Skeikh of the Indian Hospice as well as the Trustee of the Indian Wakf in Palestine. The Ansari family name origin traces back to Abu Ayyub Ansari a close companion of the Prophet Mohammad. When the Prophet reached the Medina after his Hijra from Makkah, it was Abu Ayyub Ansari who had the honor out of everyone in Median to host the Prophet in his house. Abu Ayyub was loved by the Prophet who regarded Abu Ayyub’s house as his own. They both shared a close and informal relationship. The history of the Ansari family dating back to the Prophet’s time has made it a well-known and respected family. During the administration of Sheikh Anari from 1924 until 1951, he paid several visits to India and collected donations from leading personalities. The funds were used to erect new buildings on the land of the Hospice and to renovate old ones. The new structures were named after the most generous donors such as “Osman Manzel” for Mir Osman Ali Khan, the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad, and “Reza Hall” for Nawab Syed Mohammad Reza Ali, the 11th Nawab of Rampur, and “Sadiq Gate” for Sadiq Mohammad Khan, the 12th Ameer of Bahawalpur.

During the time of the Second World War from 1939 to 1947, the Indian Hospice was utilized as a leave camp for soldiers of the Indian Army who served with the British troops in the Middle East. Sheikh Ansari was granted military rank and was assigned the task of supervising the daily life, cultural and social matters of the Indian Army personnel. The Mid East mail newspaper issued in Jerusalem on 2nd March 1945 published an article about the daily life of the Indian Army at the Indian Hospice and demonstrated how individuals lived together in harmony despite their different backgrounds and castes and made the Indian Hospice a “little India” in Jerusalem. In June 1945 General C. Baght, the Supreme Commander of the Middle East Forces granted Sheikh Nazir Ansari a commendation. The Armed Forces Headquarters established two wings on the Hospice’s property for the use of leave personnel, the “Delhi Wing” and the “Travancore Wing” were handed over to the Indian Hospice trust once the troops left the Levant. After the World War II the British Mandate in Palestine ended in 1947. In the same year, India became independent and the first Indian Embassy in the Middle East was established in Cairo. From that date on, communications were officially established with the Government of India. Sheikh Ansari passed away in 1951 and according to the traditions followed at the Hospice, his eldest son Mohammad Munir Ansari was chosen at the recommendations of the official and local councils in the country to inherit the position. As a result, a Shari’a document was issued by the Shari’a Court in Jerusalem proclaiming Sheikh Mohammad Munir Ansari as the Director and Trustee of the India Hospice Wakf as of 1952.During the administration of Sheikh Mohammad Munir Ansari communication with the Government of India intensified and the Indian visitors to the Holy Land increased in numbers. In 1963 the Indian Hospice was granted financial assistantship from the Government of India in order to construct a building consisting of twelve shops, the rent from which would provide a fixed revenue to meet the Hospice’s expenses.

Because of the new political situation that developed after 1967 Arab-Israel six days war, Indian visitors stopped traveling to Jerusalem. The Indian Hospice sustained extensive damage during the war as well as the loss of life of three of its family members, but it continued to render its services in whatever manner it could. Since 1992 many of India’s ministers and several high level delegates came to visit. A series of distinguished Indians visited the Zawiyah from the 1930s till this day. Work is still under way to renovate and further develop the Hospice. The Ansari family, the proud custodians of the Indian Hospice since 1924, looks forward to welcoming Indian pilgrims and visitors once again to the Holy City of Jerusalem.

When I reached the Indian Hospice I was welcomed by Wafa, Palestinian wife of Nazeer Ansari. I made payment for accommodation to her. I was allotted room no.1 which is adjacent to Chilla Meditation Room of Hazrat Baba Farid-ud-Din Ganjshakar. After lunch at a local restaurant I slept as I was tired.

Al Aqsa Masjid Complex: On 11th July I got ready in early morning. I met Nazeer Ansari who is one of the Trustees of Indian Hospice. He works as an engineer in Ramallah the capital of Palestine Authority. I proceeded towards campus of Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of Rock at about 11 AM. I reached the place in about 45 minutes as the walk on hilly road made of stone was quite interesting as the names of the streets were displayed. I walked on Herod’s Street and Lion’s Gate Street to reach the campus. The entire area of Al Aqsa Masjid and Dome of Rock Complex is 144,000 square meters. I saw the Dome of Rock from inside and proceeded ahead in south towards Al Aqsa Mosque. After reaching there I did wazu and went inside to join the congregation for offering Namaz-e-Zohar. The Jamat Namaz was held in the direction of Kaba in Mecca. In earlier times of Islam the Al Aqsa masjid used to be Qibla for Namaz for whole world. After Namaz I spent sometime in the mosque and then went to the Dome of Rock. Inside the campus Jordanian government unarmed personnel were deployed to help visitors, only the Muslims. I went inside the Dome of Rock and saw the rock and also went in the basement below to see the rock from where Prophet Mohammad went on Meraj to meet Allah. I offered Namaz Asr in Dome of Rock which is considered part of the Al Aqsa Mosque. I roamed around the huge campus and returned to my place and slept. On 12th July I again went to campus of Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of Rock to see places which were missed previous day. I reached the Dome of Rock an hour before Namaz Zohar and spent time seeing closely the historical points. After Namaz I met Junior Imam of the Al Aqsa Mosque. Again I saw several places in the complex. While roaming around I met two Indians working for a consultancy group which is setting up machinery from Israel for Ministry of Water Resources in India. I also saw a procession of about 25-30 young Jews who passed through Al Aqsa campus. Such groups are allowed to pass through campus twice, once in the morning and the second in later afternoon. The group wants to highlight the Temple Mont which vanished about 1000 years ago. The group is escorted by the Israeli Police on daily basis. The Jordanian guard told me that some Jews had dug up a tunnel beneath Al Aqsa mosque to blow it up. Whenever the agreement between Israel and Palestine and Jordan will be reached the issue of control over Al Aqsa mosque complex will be also of vital importance.

Wailing Wall or Western Wall:

From Al Aqsa Mosque Complex I took exit of Chain Gate to reach Western Wall. I spent some time there. This is the most sacred place for Jews. I found that the Western Wall is well-maintained in original form. Little away some construction activity was in progress. From there I took route to Jaffa Gate. There I enquired about tourism at the Information Office. I returned to my place through route of New Gate, Damascus Gate and reached Herod’s Gate.

Juma Namaz at Al Aqsa Masjid:

At about 11:00 AM of 13th July I started from Indian Hospice and reached gate of the complex of Al Aqsa Masjid. At the gate an Israeli Police personnel Nashat Tareef posted with his team at the gate inquired whether I am a Muslim. I replied “Yes, I am an Indian Muslim”. He spoke about his favourite Bollywood film stars. He told that he watches Indian films with Arabic subtitle. This is an impact of soft power of India. I reached Al Aqsa Masjid at almost one and half hours before Namaz Khutba. But recitations by several Muezzins had been started almost two hours earlier. Next to me was sitting a Palestinian gentleman. He migrated to USA 24 years earlier and was living in Chicago. He took US nationality. After Namaz I roamed around the campus and identified various structures and signs with the help of map of Al Aqsa complex. I also located grave of Moulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar of India’s Khilafat Movement and freedom fighter. He had gone to attend Round Table Conference at London where he died. As per his wishes not to be buried in slave India, his body was brought through Egypt and buried in the campus in 1931. There was an Indian flag attached to the grave. In the complex alongside there are several other graves of distinguished persons. The graves are of solid marble stone type with name of the deceased person written on the top of the grave.

Christian Monuments:

On 13th July I decided to concentrate on Christian historical monuments. I decided to see the places associated with crucification of Jesus, as per Christian faith. The Holy Church of Sephelcre was the place where Jesus Christ was crucified by the Romans. Jesus was taken to the uphill place. He faced atrocities on the way. He fell on 14 points on the uphill stairs and ultimately was nailed at the Cross. There he died. He was laid to rest at the place and later buried nearby in a grave from where he rose again, as per Christian faith. The Holy Church of Sephulcre appeared to be most favourite places for European, American and African tourists. In front of the Church was the Mosque of Umar Khattab. It appeared that there was total harmony among different communities.


On 14th July 2018 I visited Bethlehem. It is in Palestine Authority but the people living here are not allowed to travel to other places in Palestine or Israel.

I offered Zohar Namaz at the Al Aqsa Mosque of Umar Khattab. After that I went to see the Church of Nativity where Jesus was borne to Mariyam. I also visited Milk Grotto Church where Mariam used to feed milk to Jesus. I also saw the field where Jesus used to work as shepherd.


On 15th July I took Israel train tram from Damascus Gate to reach Central Bus Station Jerusalem. From there I took Bus No.960 which departed at 08:15 AM. I paid NIS 37.50 for non-stop travel from Jerusalem to Haifa in luxurious bus. I reached Haifa Bus Station at about 10 AM. The travel time took 01:45 hrs. From there I took bus for Nahariyya on the way I saw area at Acco Beach. Nahariyya Beach was quite lively. From here the borders of Lebanon and Syria are close. I noticed that nowhere in Israel and Palestine there was any statue of any religious icon or political leader except inside Churches. There were no photos of political leaders also. I again took the bus and returned to Haifa Bus Station. From there I took local bus to reach the beaches at Haifa Bay. There I saw several beaches like Dodoo Beach, Karmel Beach, etc. Haifa Sea Front was also beautiful. It is illuminated in the night. I returned to my place by evening.


On the 16th July I roamed around in New Jerusalem area. I saw Municipal City Hall, Jerusalem Trial Court, Russian Orthodox Church. In the courtyard of City Hall I played on the biggest metal piano in the world. I also saw Putin Pub nearby though I found that wine bars were rarely seen in the city.

I visited the Church of Dormition where Jesus has his Last Supper with 13 persons in the previous night of his crucification. There is a small tree sculpture kept in the hall.


Tomb of King David:

I visited the Tomb of David. I found several Rabbis reciting their Holy Book in the room adjacent to the Tomb of King David.

Al Aqsa Masjid

I offered Namaz Zohar at Qibly Masjid in Al Aqsa Masjid Complex. It was first Qibla of Islam. I offered Asr Namaz in Jamat at Al Aqsa Masjid also.

Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine:

On the 17th of July 2018 I accompanied Nazeer Ansari to Ramallah who introduced me to a Palestinian Engineer Jamil at Ramallah. I visited the Indian Embassy located at Mahatma Gandhi Street in Beitunia.


I visited Ramallah downtown. There I saw Palestinian Flag on the top of a flag pole. At Ramallah I saw the memorial and Museum of Yasser Arafat. I offered Fateha at his grave. I offered Namaz at the Mosque located in the campus. I saw Museum which depicted the freedom struggle of Palestine led by Yasser Arafat. I saw the rooms which were converted into headquarters of Yasser Arafat and his Cabinet when the Israeli Defence Force made siege of the building in June 2002 lasting for about 34 months till 2004. In the Museum I used headphone for listening to various exhibits. I visited Nelson Mandela Square where I saw the largest statue of Nelson Mandela erected anywhere in the world. I took return bus from Ramallah Bus Station. At Glandiya Security Check Point at Border I along with other passengers got down from the bus. There the local people went inside to record their movement at the Israeli Security Counter. As I carried Indian Passport I was spared. From Glandiya I boarded another bus and reached Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

Local Jerusalem:

In the morning of 18th July I decided to roam around local area of Jerusalem. In front of the Herod’s Gate where I was staying in its front is Salah-e-Din Street. On its corner is located Police Station of Israel to keep watch on Palestinians and Muslims living in the area. Ahead of it is located Educational Book Shop. There I found newspaper in English, HAARETZ. I was told that this shop is the only place in Jerusalem where English newspaper is available. This book shop has collection of books in several languages English, almost 80%, besides Arabic, Hebrew, German, French. Aneer Muna of the shop informed me that books are printed in Britain and other countries and imported in Jerusalem and so price is high. There is no printing of English books in Jerusalem, may be in entire Israel. This is a good book shop where reader can read any book or newspaper and enjoy tea, coffee, snacks, etc. Muna became very friendly and offered me complementary tea. I took Lipton tea along with Saga Fredo Sugar and Milk. After that I went to Al Aqsa Masjid. At the Zohar Namaz somebody circulated bottled water, somebody applied attar on above palm. A boy of 8 years was excited to get attar on his cheeks and palm. After Zohar Namaz a group of about 10 Jews passed through the Al Aqsa Masjid Complex. They claim that the area around belongs to the Jews and not to the Muslims. As usual everyday twice such groups pass through the complex and the group is escorted by Israeli Police. I was told that such groups came on daily basis first after 07:30 AM in the morning and then after Zohar Namaz.

Knesset and Supreme Court of Israel:

I had enough time left to visit areas in Jerusalem. I reached Central Bus Station from where I took bus and got down at Square where the Israeli Parliament, namely, Knesset and Supreme Court are located. These institutions are located on the outer skirts of Jerusalem. Knesset was in session. On that day it passed a law to make Israel a Jewish State depriving non-Jews civil rights. In the Parliament this Act was passed with small margin as at large number of Arabs and Left Parties MPs opposed the Bill. This established the rule of apartheid which used to be implemented in South Africa before its independence under Nelson Mandela. I feel surprised that even now in the name of democracy a particular religion is given rights whereas non-Jewish population has been deprived of even smaller rights. It is almost impossible for Palestinian people to travel to territories of Palestine Authority. Most of the Palestinians either living in occupied territories or in Palestinians Authority hold some temporary identification cards issued by Jordan, Lebanon or Egypt.

Chilla of Baba Farid-ud-Din Ganjshakar at the Indian Hospice:

On the 19th July I decided to spend time in the Chilla of Baba Farid-ud-Din located adjacent to my room in the Indian Hospice. Baba Farid came from Punjab in 13th century to offer Islamic prayer and meditation for 40 days. He was a great saint. Faridkot in Punjab and Faridbad in Haryana are the places named after him. There are educational institutions and universities also named after him in Punjab and also in Pakistan. In the Chilla there is a deep cave in basement where Baba Farid sat for prayers for 40 days. Presently the cave is lighted with electricity but during those days it must have been difficult to sit in the dark or in some type of weak light. There was a tunnel giving some natural light in the cave. In the Chilla I found several memorabilia in his honour. There is a memento presented to Nazeer Ansari, Director of Baba Farid Heritage Centre in Jerusalem by Dr. S.S. Gill, Vice Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health and Sciences, Faridkot, Punjab. There were some paintings of him which were made by his followers of Punjab.

Al Aqsa Masjid:

For the late night Isha Namaz I went to Al Aqsa Masjid. Before Namaz I met a Palestinian student named Khalid. He aspires to be an MBBS doctor and also Imam. I learnt that in this part of the Muslim world in Palestine and also in Egypt the student get religious education besides modern professional education. In Egypt and also in Jerusalem I found the Doctors, Engineers, Teachers and other professionals performed duties of Imams and Muezzins in addition to their vocations. This is a good example for educating Muslims boys in India and in the world. In India the prevalent system is that only those persons perform duties of Imams and Muezzins who studied only in Madarsas. I have not heard a doctor or an engineer or a professor or an officer performing such duties in addition to his vocation. I would advise the Muslim community to encourage such studies. Such system would help Madarsa students to take modern education for better livelihood and also perform their duties in Masjid and Madarsas. Similarly I would advise that the students of Modern Professional courses should also   learn Islamic Theology so that they can perform duties of Imam and Muezzins also whenever need arises.

Namaz Juma at Al Aqsa Masjid:

I had prayed Juma Namaz on 13th July and on 20th July 2018 I got another opportunity to offer Juma Namaz at this first Qibla of Islam. I thank Allah for His kindness to give me opportunity to offer Juma Namaz at consecutive two Fridays. Before leaving India I was apprehensive that whether I would be able to offer Juma Namaz at Al Aqsa Masjid or not because Israel administration does not allow to go inside for offering Juma Namaz during disturbances because of this apprehension I made plan for two consecutive Fridays. Even if due to any disturbance I was not able to offer Namaz of one Friday at least I would be able to offer Namaz on another Friday. During the period there was no disturbance in Jerusalem. But in Gaza area fight between HAMAS and Israeli army took place in which one Israeli soldier was killed and 4 Palestinians were killed in retaliation.

After Juma Namaz I met the Chief orator and Imam of Al Aqsa masjid Dr. E’Krima Sa’eed Sabri who led the Friday prayer. I always recollect that few years back Imam or Mufti of Al Aqsa Masjid had given call to Muslims of the world to come there and offer Namaz otherwise this third most sacred Islamic shrine could be lost to the Israeli Government. This Al Aqsa Masjid Complex of 144,000 sq.mtrs. is looked after by the King of Jordan. The guard, the caretaker, the maintenance staff besides the Imam and Muezzins get their salary from Government of Jordan. Entire cost is borne by Jordan only. I was told that these staffs who are not permanent employee of the Government of Jordan are local Palestinian people who get their salary through transfer to their accounts in banks. These guards wear civil dress and carry no arms. I was told that whereas the earlier King of Jordan, King Hussain used to come to Jerusalem and offer Namaz in Al Aqsa Masjid but the present King of Jordan, King Abdullah or his son did not come to Jerusalem or to the Masjid. I understand that they do not want to annoy Israel Government. I found that Jordan and Egypt got back their territories occupied by Israel in 1967. They changed their policy to be friend with Israel and cooperate with it by not interfering in the occupied area of Israel like Jerusalem, etc. Syria is witnessing great Civil War in which two superpowers USA and Russia are supporting rival fighting forces. Israel is helping Saudi Arabia against President Basher-Al-Asad whereas Iran is supporting Asad regime. The destruction of Syria is not yet complete or peace has not come back. Under these circumstances Israel is still in occupation of portion of Golan Heights bordering Syria whereas the portion of Golan Heights of Jordan has been vacated by Israel.

Aqsa Mosque Monuments (and Surroundings)

The Aqsa Mosque (Southern Mosque area is 144,000 sq. meters including Dome of the Rock, Southern Mosque, subterranean vaults and all the platforms and Domes



  1. Qibli Mosque (Southern Mosque)
  2. Omar Mosque
  3. Zakaria Niche
  4. Salah Edin Niche- NurEldin Pulpit
  5. Prophet Gate (Double)
  6. Chatnia Lodge (Library)
  7. Women Mosque (Library)
  8. Yousef Agha Dome
  9. Fakhria Minaret
  10. Moroccan Mosque (Islamic Museum)
  11. Moroccan Gate Fountain (Disabled)
  12. Moroccan Gate
  13. Buraq Wall
  14. Moroccan Neighbourhood
  15. Pine Platform
  16. Tankazia School
  17. Chain and Tranquility Gate
  18. Dome of Musa (Quran School)
  19. Court Minaret
  20. Ashrafiyah School (Manuscripts center)
  21. Qasim Pash Mountain
  22. Grammar School
  23. Yousef Dome
  24. Summer Pulpit
  25. South Arches
  26. South East Arches
  27. Ablution Platform
  28. Cup Fountain (Kaas)
  29. Cup Fountain Platform
  30. Funeral Platform
  31. South West Arches
  32. West Arches
  33. Dome of the Rock
  34. Dome of Prophet Ascension
  35. Mohammad Khalili Dome
  36. Prophet Niche Dome
  37. Dome of the Chain
  38. East Arches
  39. Ahmadi School
  40. Ahmad Ridwan Pasha Lodge
  41. Mohammad Beg Lodge
  42. North East Arches
  43. North Arches
  44. Spirits Dome
  45. Arsalan Pasha Lodge
  46. North West Arches
  47. Khader Dome
  48. Biram Pasha lodge
  49. Shalaan Fountain
  50. Cotton Gate Platform
  51. Ottoman School
  52. Ablution Gate
  53. Cotton Merchants Gate
  54. Iron Gate
  55. Mustafa Agha Fountain (Budyri)
  56. Ibrahim Rumi Fountain (Busayri)
  57. Inspector Gate
  58. Gawanmeh Gate
  59. Gawanmeh Minaret
  60. Jawiliyah School (Omarya)
  61. Asardya School
  62. Malakiya School
  63. Farisyah School
  64. Aminiyah School
  65. Manjakiyah School
  66. Faisal Gate
  67. Dawadarya School
  68. Suliman Dome
  69. Prophet Lovers Dome
  70. Basitiyah School
  71. Riad El Aqsa School
  72. Remission Gate
  73. Ablution
  74. Tribes Gate Minaret
  75. Salahya School(St Ann)
  76. The Tribes Gate
  77. Hadith Dome
  78. Prophet Companions Tombs
  79. Mercy an Repentance Gate
  80. Mawani Mosque Stairs and Grand Gates
  81. Marwani West Enterance
  82. Well
  83. Single Gate and Cradle of Issa
  84. Tripple Gate
  85. Omayyad Palaces Remains
  86. Ali Pasha Platform
  87. Iron Gate Platform
  88. Buraq Platform
  89. Zahire Platform
  90. Sabra and Shatila Platform
  91. Qaytbay Fountain
  92. Commanders and Martyrs Tombs
  93. Buraq Mosque



Gaza is a long strip of 365 sq.kmtrs having population of about 2 million, located on the coast of Mediterranean Sea where Hamas backed by Iran is entrenched. In retaliation Israel army has completely surrounded it from all sides including coastal area. It does not allow any supply from any side compelling people to live in deprivation, poverty, unemployment, lack of health services, lack of education, etc. Whenever there is skirmish between Hamas and Israeli Defence Forces the Government of Egypt mediates between the rivals to bring any ceasefire. I was told that for few days in the month the border with Egypt is opened through which some essential supply are sent to Gaza. Whenever Turkey or any other European country tried to send any relief material their ships were attacked by the Israeli Defence Forces and the crew were arrested or shot dead. In order not to annoy the Israeli Government President of Palestine Authority Mohammad Abbas has not visited the territory of Gaza as he is opposed to the dominance and control of the Hamas. The people of Palestine and Arabs living in Palestine and Israel have to bear the atrocities for long may be till the time a just government comes in power in USA and in Israeli till then Israel will pursue its policy of dismantling villages of Palestinian people and constructing villas, apartments, shopping malls for Jewish community as settlement policy. Israel wants to take total land of Palestine without any Palestinian. Israel insists making United Jerusalem its capital. Few months back Donald Trump shifted US Embassy in Jerusalem area. I saw a Board showing way to US Embassy. Along with it was fixed another board displaying “Donald Trump has made Israel Great”. So far only one more country has shifted its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In the morning of 21st July I got ready to proceed to International Air Port at Tel Aviv Yofo. Director of India Hospice Nazeer Ansari requested me to make comments in the visitors book. The office room displayed photographs of large number of Indian dignitaries who visited the Indian Hospice. I also recorded my comments on my stay and importance of the Indian Hospice which makes presence of India at strategic location at Herod’s Gate in Old City of Jerusalem. I went to St. George Hotel from there I took Sherut taxi for going to Airport to catch Air Sinai Flight 4D55, STD was 1205 hrs. I found that the Security was of highest grade with the help of hidden technological systems. After asking one or two questions the security staff did not see my luggage and they just cleared it. But I spent some time when facial recognition camera failed to compare my face with ten years earlier photograph pasted on my passport but photo on Israel visa was recognized immediately. I never saw such combination of security system in the world. I boarded the flight and got seat no.25A. After one hour flight I reached Cairo where I spent about 4 hours in transit to board Egypt Air Flight MS 968 at about 05:00 PM. The flight took off at 0510 PM local times. From there my travel to Mumbai was of 4333 kms in 5 hours 33 minutes. I saw my plane crossing over Suez Canal which connects Red Sea to Mediterranean Sea. My plane took route over Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Actual distance covered was 4057 kms.

Elusive solution to Israel-Palestine conflict:

In 1967 Israel fought six days war with  neighbouring Arab  countries occupied Jerusalem and all Palestine in addition to territories of other countries. In course of time due to Oslo accord some territories were declared Palestine territories like Ramallah West Bank, made temporary capital of Palestine and Bethlehem. In these places Palestinian Authority has more like municipal powers. Here the authority is backed by Fatah group. There is Gaza strip having largest city of Palestine. Here Hamas backed by Iran is entrenched and does not allow Israeli Defence Forces to enter in its territory. In retaliation Israel has blocked the strip from all sides including Mediterranean Sea. It has very narrow travel route to Egypt. Hamas forces of Gaza and IDF of Israel are continuously fighting each other. Egypt becomes mediator for bringing truce. It has regular arrangement at Cairo having representatives from both sides.

To explore avenues of solution to Palestine-Israel conflict understanding of demography is also important.

  1. The PCBS of Palestine said that 2.7m Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and 1.7m live in the Gaza Strip. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s population at the end of 2012 stands at nearly 8m of whom 5.9m are Jews and 1.4m are Arabs.
  2. Palestinians to outnumber Jewish population by 2020, says PA Report. The estimated number of Palestinians in the world at the end of 2012 is 11.6m, of whom 4.4m are in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem and 1.4m live inside Israel.
  3. The number of Arabs and Jews in Israel and the occupied areas of Palestine will be equal by 2016, but the number of Arabs will exceed that of Jews by 2020, a report by the Palestinians Central Bureau of Statistics said.
  4. Population of Israel in 2018 is 8.5m or 85 lakhs.
  5. Combined population of Israel and Palestine as of 2012 :

Jews                                                                                                            6m or 60 lakhs

Palestinians & Arabs in territories of Israel                                        1.5m or 15 lakhs

Palestinians in East Jerusalem and West Bank                                 2.8m or 28 lakhs

Palestinians in Gaza                                                                                 1.8m or 18 lakhs

Total population of Arabs and Palestinians                                        5.1m or 51 lakhs

  • There are roughly 1.8 million Arabs in Israel, making up about 20% of the state’s population. They are mostly Palestinians and their descendants who remained in place after the 1948 war between Arabs and Jews. Several lakhs of others were displaced or fled.
  • Arabs and other minorities in Israel have felt under threat after Knesset passed a law in July declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination, encouraging Jewish settlements, and downgrading the status of the Arabic language.
  • ‘Many young Palestinians don’t want the two-state solution anymore, but would rather live together with the Israelis in one state with equal rights for all. The result will be that Israel will lose its Jewish character’, Abdullah reportedly told Donald Trump. Trump reportedly then replied, ‘what you say makes sense. In a one-state scenario, the prime minister of Israel in few years will be called Mohammed’.
  • It appears that the conflict between Israel and Palestine may be solved to achieve peace provided any left group party comes to power in Israel and USA gets a Democrat President. The world awaits for independent Palestine State or at least extension of democratic rights to Palestinians and Arabs.


Be the first to comment on "Visit to Jerusalem, Palestine and Israel"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.