Five years ago, BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool walked from Nazareth to Bethlehem, retracing the route taken by Mary and Joseph by donkey as told in the Bible.
For ten days he and his donkey successfully negotiated the queues, turnstiles and x-ray machines at some military checkpoints while being turned away at others despite his foreign passport and Israeli press credentials.
On the morning of December 22 on his trek, he talked to a New Yorker who had emigrated to the Jewish settlement of Shilo built on Palestinian land in the middle of the West Bank.
That evening he stayed with a Christian family in Bir Zeit.
I was told that the family's former house and the land around it had been confiscated by the Israeli army as it was next to the checkpoint to the north of the village (which I had entered earlier). There had been no compensation, they said.
Earlier this year, the younger son had been arrested by the army in a 3am raid on the house. His brother told me that he had been held without charge (something the Israeli authorities call "administrative detention") for six months before being released.
And so it goes ...
Fun fact : The 4,000 square meter Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre in Israel will be built an hour and a half's drive northnortheast of Nazareth. It was announced at the yearly Negev Gala in Toronto earlier this month.
A week ago, in response to international protest, the Israeli government temporarily shelved plans to forcibly evict 40,000 Bedouins from their 'unrecognised' ancestral villages in the Negev and move them to government-designated 'towns'. Bedouin homes in the Negev are destroyed for not having the necessary Israeli permits.