While driving from East Jerusalem through Ramallah and then along exclusive Israeli roads towards the border with Jordan, I saw dozens of settlements. Some of these were decades old, many more were established within the last few years--all of them were well secured. I did not have the luxury to photograph them from up close or in a conspicuous way. Instead, these are all shot from a moving car window. I share them here to illustrate the steps in the formation of a settlement, along with their typical placement and appearance. Enjoy.
This is the most up close image I captured of a newly created settlement. In the background are the preliminary dwellings, low to the ground beneath their budding infrastructure. In the foreground are structures that served as storage for military vehicles. In front of this proto-settlement, I saw approximately 15 identical military troop moving trucks, parked in their garages. There were storage facilities for five times that amount of equipment.
On this distant hilltop, you can see the outline and communications towers of a second recent settlement--a little further along than the first. Perhaps forty squat living containers are congregated here--waiting to be demolished and replaced by more comfortable and imposing dwellings. Apparently, during this unglamorous stage of development, people take shifts occupying the hilltop.
A medium sized settlement, in the snow near Ramallah. Characteristic walls around the perimeter along with communication and water towers.
This large, completed settlement, at the top of a very steep incline has a series of walls along the perimeter.
Just in case you thought the walls of the settlements appeared quaint in a run-down Medieval sort of way--here is a good example of a more no-nonsense perimeter.
Up close, these walls tower above vehicles and pedestrians alike, concealing the settlements from view and sending a neighborly message. This is not the wall around the West Bank--that wall is often higher and routinely adorned with various unfriendly wires--this is just the access point to an established hilltop settlement (which term, at this point, should be sounding redundant).
And in case you might be tempted to believe that these settlements are just the isolated and curmudgeonly fortresses of people who are minding their own business. Here is a tiny sliver of the destroyed olive plantation on the outskirts of one settlement. Deemed a security risk, hundreds of carefully cultivated, Palestinian olive trees were chopped down and burnt several hundred yards from the current boundary of this younger outpost. Nothing quite so threatening as olive trees--or Palestinians making a living.
Lastly, by way of contrast, here is an early morning view of Ramallah in the snow. Notice we are looking down on an unwalled area. As building and renovation becomes more difficult and costly, expect Palestinian enclaves to lose their polished and relatively modern look.