Only three meters away from the Apartheid Wall built at the northern entrance of the city of Beit Lahm ('Bethlehem') to the south of the occupied West Bank, a hotel was built and named after the Israeli apartheid wall, with its owner describing it as the hotel with ‘the worst view in the world’.
The project, established as a commercial enterprise, had some nationalistic aspects added to it, and drew the attention of the world due to its location, and its name, and the drawings and antiques it contains, which reflect the oppression Palestinians are subjected to, by building the apartheid separation wall on their lands.
Once you get to the hotel you will be met by a monkey carrying some bags, welcoming visitors, then you get to the restaurant whose walls have been decorated by drawings and tools used by the Israeli occupation to repress Palestinians, such as gas canisters, and monitoring cameras, in addition to other tools used by the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation forces and settlers such as slingshots and stones.
he hotel is a nine-room hotel, some of which has more than six beds, which are prepared to receive tourists, and most rooms overlooks the Israeli occupation’s separation wall, which is built on the lands of Beit Lahm, and the lands of the village of Bit Jala up-west, as well as the center of Beit Lahm city.
When the world-renowned artist Banksy visited Beit Lahm in 2007, he had the chance to see the lives of Palestinians and their suffering as well as the lack of tourists visiting Palestinian cities. He drew some paintings on the walls of the city and on the apartheid wall surrounding it. After that, an increase in the number of tourists visiting Palestine was recorded, who were interested in the works of Banksy.
Banksy is a famous and an unknown artist at the same time. It is thought that his real name is Robert Banksy who was born in 1974. There is no official confirmation of his real identity and his biography remains unknown. His paintings have appeared in a number of locations in the United Kingdom, especially in the cities of London and Bristol, and other parts of the world, including some paintings on the apartheid wall in the West Bank. His paintings cover an array of topics such as politics, culture, and moralism.
Wesam Salsaa, the director of the Walled Off Hotel, says the paintings of Banksy attract tourists, which made him decorate the walls of the hotel with paintings done by Banksy. He adds to the PIC, “Choosing the location of the hotel reflects the reality of the city hem in particular and Palestine in general.”
He adds, “We try to make visitors experience the lives of the Palestinian people, therefore, whatever the hotel contains, which was built secretly throughout 14 months, of paintings and tools, is intentional and has many meanings.”
Salsaa explained that the image of the Palestinian people is distorted in the mindset of many people all over the world, and we here are trying to fix this image, by making tourists know the truth about the reality of the Palestinian people. He noted that the hotel has a gallery, which gets replaced every two months, which is an attempt to give Palestinian photographers a chance to exhibit their works.
The hotel is located at the Mosque of Bilal Bin Rabah area, which is located at the northern entrance of the city of Beit Lahm, which is considered a hot area that usually sees clashes with the Israeli occupation forces. This was not an obstacle to not build the hotel and it is expected to boost tourism in the area by attracting tourists to this area, which has been marginalized over the last ten years.