Bethlehem has always fascinated me ever since childhood, the old and new testament images depicting an ancient sandstone city in the Middle East. I was staying in East Jerusalem and my British passport gave me access to cross from Israel to Palestine without any real bother from the IDF. The IDF are just curious why anybody would want to go to Palestine or Gaza for any reason, but they never really bother you.
The security barrier separates Israel from Palestine, once finished it will be a 400 mile-long network of high walls, heavily armed checkpoints, turnstiles and electric fences. It's original intent was to stop the suicide bombings, sniper attacks and general unrest during the second intifada between 2000 and 2005 where an estimated 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis died in direct hostilities between either side.
Bethlehem is not only famous for being the birth place of Jesus of Nazareth but the youngest female Palestinian martyr. In March, 2002 Ayat al-Akhras took a taxi from Bethlehem to the Kiryat HaYovel supermarket in Jerusalem with an explosive belt strapped to her body and killed a 17 year old Israeli girl called Rachel Levy, herself and a security guard. The Al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility and the Israeli government condemned the attack as an act of terrorism.
In 2002 the wall started to be built to stop and decrease further incidents like this happening again. Travelling to Palestine since the barrier has been built is a time consuming and dehumanising process.