By ZAKARIA BABYBAKER, JEREMY SHEAY and ELIZABETH MARTINIS The Jerusalem Report The Palestinian refugee camps of Shati refugee camp in the northern West Bank and Gaza Strip are an ancient, dry desert landscape.
They were once home to thousands of Palestinians, some of whom were forced into slavery, forced to work in fields and factories, and, later, forced into forced labor on Israeli and Western military bases.
Now, they have a tourism industry.
For years, they had few options but to stay on the margins of the Palestinian economy, relying on international aid and Palestinian government subsidies.
The Palestinian refugees from Shati have been working in various parts of the West Bank, including Jerusalem, since the end of the 1967 Middle East war.
The camp, with a population of about 4,000, is home to around 1,000 Palestinian families, mostly women, and their children.
In recent years, the camp has become a tourist destination.
This year, more than 10,000 tourists visited, a major increase on last year.
In 2013, Palestinian refugees made a total of 1,600 trips to Israel, according to the Israeli government.
But this year, the Israeli Tourism Authority said it expects the number of trips to increase by up to 500 percent.
The Shati camp is not just a tourist attraction.
It is also a strategic base for the Palestinian cause, said Alon Ben-Ostman, the head of the Palestine Tourism Authority.
In 2014, Palestinians in the West, including Shati, established a joint committee to coordinate tourism and support for Palestinian cause.
The joint committee, formed in October, includes representatives from the Palestinian refugees and from the tourism industry, as well as the government of the Israeli territory of Judea and Samaria.
The committee is also meeting weekly to plan and organize the trip, according and plans to send over a dozen delegations, Ben-Osstman said.
The camp is a place of pride for the Palestinians.
For example, there are three swimming pools at the camp, each with its own pool.
Each has a separate water theme, and visitors are encouraged to go to the water with a tank and swim with other refugees and Israeli soldiers, said Ayoub al-Aqali, who runs the Shati Tourism Authority in the Palestinian refugee camp.
The water is so cold, there is even a heated pool, he said.
Shati Refugee Camp, in the southern West Bank city of Ramallah.
The Palestinian refugees in Shati are among the most active tourism organizations in the world.
They are one of the few places in the Middle East that provide free and subsidized swimming.
In the camp’s swimming pool, the water is chilled and there are also hot springs.
They also have a full-service restaurant, a bar and lounge.
Al-Arai said that the camp attracts tourists from around the world because of the opportunities for them to see the Palestinian people, as it is located in the heart of their ancestral lands.
The refugees say that their families have not been able to visit them since the occupation began.
They have been forced to live with their families in the camp and in the Israeli settlements, said Yasser al-Mousrai, who has lived in Shanti for 15 years.
The Israeli government has long denied that there are Palestinian refugees living in Shatti.
In a recent interview with the Israeli news website Haaretz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Palestinian refugees have always lived there, adding that they were not allowed to move out.
He said that Israeli authorities had visited the camp for two weeks, but that they found no evidence of any Palestinian presence.
“The Palestinian people are living there, we have no reason to keep them,” he said, according.
In the past few years, however, Shati has seen an influx of foreign tourists.
Last year, for example, 1,700 tourists visited the site, according the Israeli tourism authority.
The number of tourists visiting Shati this year is expected to be double the number last year, said the tourism authority, according a statement.
Al-Araqali said that he hopes that the Palestinian tourism industry will grow in the future, and that it will not be used as a vehicle for political and social issues.
But, he added, he is worried about the effects on the Palestinian community living in the area.
“We have been living there for 50 years, and it is our land, and we are the descendants of those who lived there,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I hope that our generation will not become refugees.”
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