Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Having walked back through Hebron, I join a number of folk trying to access funds at various ATMs. Getting cash or even getting credit cards to work has been proving problematic.

Prior to travelling, I had notified my banks and credit card companies of where I will be travelling and had been told all will be fine, but I’m having no luck. In a pattern that continues for the week, it seems our Maestro, Solo, Mastercard and Visa pieces of plastic only work with any regularity in Israeli territory. Again and again, shops, hotels and ATMs in the Palestinian territories that display all the relevant logos and “usually have no problem” can’t get our cards to work.

The local explanation seems to be that our cards clear through American banks and they are now putting the squeeze on any funds getting into Palestine.

I’ll be writing to my bank and credit card companies when I return to try and find out the truth of the situation.

If the explanation is as suggested, this would seem to be a further nail in the coffin of the tourist industry in places like Bethlehem.

Surely this is counter-productive anyway. Destroying what little viable, legitimate economy remains surely only creates hothouses for people taking up the route of violence resistance? Isn’t there a little more sophisticated means of avoiding funding terrorism (which I guess is the reasoning)? And who appointed American banks as the guardians of my tourist shekel?

If I get any answers I will of course share. It is entirely possible that there’s a perfectly innocent explanation...it’s easy to see how conspiracy theories grow and thrive in this climate alongside the olives.

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