Solo Female Hears Shots at Bethlehem's Aida Camp Palestine

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Photographing Kids Running I Capture Chaos and Bullets

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Photographing Kids I Capture Bullets Shot. My trip took me to a long-standing refugee camp. I’m with a family who provides community services to in Bethlehem’s Aida Camp Palestine. The Aida Camp is a refugee camp established in 1948 to help displaced Palestinians. The Camp’s was meant to be a temporary place like the ones the Syrians are in now. Now it is permanent.

Bethlehem’s Aida Camp Palestine a Refugee Camp 

These days, the Aida Camp has become the permanent residence for those displaced people. I worry that this same fate will happen to the population in the Syrian refugee camps, the temporary camps will become the permanent home for the Syrians. The camp provides a school in a community service center, and another school run by the United Nations (U.N.). The school teaches children basic skills and provides vocational training.

The Aida Camp

The Aida camp provides a school in a community service center, and another school run by the United Nations (U.N.). The school teaches children basic skills and provides vocational training. The kids play in the streets because they have nowhere else to play.

In Bethlehem at Aida Camp, I walk with a woman guide, to take pictures of the camp and the children playing in the streets. I walk around taking in the schools, the community center and the kids playing, riding their bikes and running around. then, I start to take photos of the children playing and riding bikes.

I hear a loud, pop – pop noises. Then I hear a high pitched ping.

Bethlehem's Aida Camp Palestine, Bethlehem's Aida Camp in Palestine

Taking Photos of Children – Playing

Bethlehem's Aida Camp Palestine, Bethlehem's Aida Camp in Palestine

I hear something that sounds like shots fired. The kids start running away with determination. In every direction, kids were scattering. Bikes are peddled quickly past children and us duck onto alleys and buildings. One little boy with a toy gun shot at me and ran into a building.

Bethlehem's Aida Camp Palestine, Bethlehem's Aida Camp in Palestine

One moment the kids are playing on the street riding bikes, and the next they are running past us.

Bethlehem's Aida Camp Palestine, Bethlehem's Aida Camp in Palestine

Children in the Streets

The women escorting me asks me to hurry down the street. We see more kids running by us again. The situation gets confusing very quickly. Without any warning – no shouting – nothing. There is only the sound of bullets hitting metal and kids running away down the street.

Take Cover in Bethlehem’s Aida Camp Palestine 

The women guide says the guards are shooting. “Let’s duck into a building.”

I said, ” shooting what?”

She then tells me that the kids must have been throwing stones at the guards and taunting them because that is what starts this type of situation.

The next thing I know, we are leaving the area. I don’t know exactly why things went this way – but this is my experience.

“Shooting what?”

I asked if the bullets were real?

She didn’t know – they could be rubber bullets. I thought “Does it matter?”

I wish I knew how to photograph bullets, thankfully, this is the first time I’m in a situation like this.

Kids Ride for Cover

Bethlehem's Aida Camp Palestine, Bethlehem's Aida Camp in Palestine

I wish I could have taken more photos, but it happened fast. Later when things settled down, we continue our walk down the street. Shooting at kids is upsetting to me and seems out of the ordinary. That is what is super weird to me. How can it be routine for guards to shoot at kids? They are very young – they aren’t teenagers, they are just kids.

Bethlehem's Aida Camp Palestine, Bethlehem's Aida Camp in Palestine

Children Living In Conflict

I know I wouldn’t want my kids to live like this or to live here. And I would not like my kids to face the chance of getting hurt by stray ‘rubber ‘ bullets when playing outside. There are places in the USA, Chicago, New York and big cities and small towns where kids and parents live with street violence, high crime rates and drive by shootings. Gunfire and the fear of being shot are not part of a happy childhood experience. I am not liberal or conservative, but I do believe everyone deserves safety.

Garbage Everywhere – Limited Garbage Service

I wish that no child ever experiences gun violence. As an adult, the shots made me shaky, and the thought of being so near the gunfire is still disturbing.

Bethlehem's Aida Camp Palestine, Bethlehem's Aida Camp in Palestine

Garbage In the Streets – Bethlehem’s Aida Camp Palestine

Bethlehem's Aida Camp Palestine, Bethlehem's Aida Camp in Palestine

Bethlehem’s Aida Camp Palestine

We had visited the Tombs of the Patriarchs (Read my posts on my visit to Abraham and Sarah and Isaac burial site). On the Jewish side of the Tombs, I saw a man stopped by Israeli soldiers, his head pushed down, backed into the wall by the Israeli soldiers. I asked what the soldiers were saying? Elias said the man is being told not to look at the soldiers.

The Bus Trip to Bethlehem Palestine

I recall the bus trip to Bethlehem when the soldiers boarded the bus looking at identity papers. No one looked at the soldiers as they hand over their identity papers. I remember how quiet the bus was. Then I saw a girl walking down the street in Ramallah. She is looking down at the street. Now, shots fired at children in front of me, while I walk down the street in Bethlehem. For all these reasons, I believe the roads in Palestine are dangerous.

In general, Palestine felt unsafe. People obey the rules and the rules are strict. Remember to follow the rules in this part of the world. Bethlehem, Aida Camp, Palestine was an intense place. I am thankful to see and feel the tension, compared to the gentle side of Bethlehem and my typical journeys.

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Kate started traveling for work. Now with grown children, who are travelers, she travels for pleasure looking for great travel experiences. Currently, her home is in Bellevue, WA, and lives with her cat Angelina Jolie. She has a Bachelor's of Fine Arts, Studio Arts and Art History from the University of Colorado, an MBA and Master of Arts, Management. Her favorite things are exploring new cultures, traveling the world, creating a painting and sour or spicy foods.

2 Comments

  1. Jim

    April 25, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Fortunately, none of you were hit by any of the rounds. Amazing story, and it only highlights the need to be aware of your surroundings and to be prepared for anything to happen during travels to any part of the world. We generally assume we are safe, but things can go awry quickly. Thanks for the heads up on this part of the world! Nonetheless, a fascinating place in the world to contemplate traveling to.

    • Kate

      April 25, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      Hi, thanks for your comments. I never knew if they were rubber or real. Either way, it would have hurt if they connected with us. You are right always be aware if you want to be safe. Thanks for reading.

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