I love Dried Date Palm Fruits sine I was a child and always buy them in supermarkets and in my recent middle east jaunt, i have sampled a lot of them from egypt, saudi arabia, israel, palestine, jordan, syrian and UAE kind. The West Bank of Palestine has a number of Date Palm Plantations and souvenir shops here in Jericho sell these goodies, which can be eaten fresh or dried and evan covered in chocolate coating.
But fresh Date Palm is also a good snack as it taste like a cross between grapes and breadfruit. A good thing about date palms is that they grow here in the arid desert and you spot their towering tree palms which are like mini greeneries along a sea of desert sand and you can pay in either New Israeli Shekhel (NIS) or Jordanian Dinar (JD) or US Dollar ($).
Fondest memory: according to wikipedia:
Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around Iraq, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. The Ancient Egyptians used the fruits to make date wine, and ate them at harvest. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in eastern Arabia in 6000 BCE. (Alvarez-Mon 2006).
Before WW1,the socalled " West Bank" was under Ottoman rule as part of the province of Syria. In the 1920 San Remo conference, the Allied powers allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War saw the establishment of Israel in parts of the former Mandate, while the West Bank was captured and annexed by Jordan. The 1949 Armistice Agreements defined its interim boundary. From 1948 until 1967, the area was under Jordanian rule. Since 1967, it is under military occupation by Israel.
Driving from Beth Shean to Jerusalem, about 5 kilometers before passing Jericho, there are fortifications and a lot of barbed wire on the hills beside the road to be seen. The fortifications are fully operational and seemingly taken care of by the Israel Army.
St. George Monastery - Greek orthodox, was founded in 5 century, and restored after the crusaders. It is built in the wall of the canyon - Wadi Qelt (Kilt, Kelt, Qilt) which is one of thew biggest tributaries of River Jordan and passes through Jericho downstream. The monastery is currently open Fri and Sun morning and afternoon, and Sat morning, but of course you can always drive there and enjoy the fantastic views. Technically, it is at the West Bank, but currently (April 2005) access is free and the situation is stable, no safety threats.
(For transportation, see the next tip).