The day starts early, at a petrol station alongside a roaring Jerusalem road. The mood among the 15 Israeli women is a little tense, but it’s hardly surprising – they’re about to break the law and with it one of the country’s taboos. They plan to drive into the occupied West Bank, pick up Palestinian women and children and take them on a day trip to Tel Aviv.
Today’s is the second such trip – another group of women went public with a similar action last month. It is hoped that these will become regular outings, designed to create awareness of the laws that govern movement for Palestinians, and to challenge the fears that Israelis have about travelling into the West Bank.
Riki is a 63-year-old from Tel Aviv who, like the other women did not want to give her surname. She said it took her time to sign up to the trips. “I was resistant to breaking the law. But then I realised that civil action is the only way to go forward, that breaking an illegal law becomes legal.”
The women take off in a convoy of cars, through an Israeli checkpoint used by settlers and into several villages around Hebron. There are dozens of Palestinian women waiting for them and each Israeli driver is allocated passengers.
As two young Palestinian women climb into the car, they remove hijabs, scarves and floor-length coats to reveal skinny jeans and long hair – a look that ensures they pass through the Israeli settler-only checkpoint without scrutiny. “I am afraid of the soldiers,” said 21-year-old Sara, nervously. But she and 19-year-old Sahar, visibly relax as the car breezes past the checkpoint.