Feature: A tale of 2 time zones in one piece of land-Xinhua

Feature: A tale of 2 time zones in one piece of land

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-03-28 22:05:30

by Xinhua writers Wang Zhuolun, Shang Hao and Li Binian

JERUSALEM, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Israelis and Palestinians may disagree on bags of issues, but not to a degree seen over the past weekend when they answered the plain question: "What time is it?"

This year, Daylight Saving Time (DST) came into effect in Israel at 2 a.m. local time on Friday with clocks set 60 minutes forward to 3 a.m., equivalent to an hour less of sleep for the night. The daylight mode would end on Oct. 30 and clocks would be set back by an hour.

However, in Palestine, the time change did not kick in until midnight Sunday, almost two days later than in Israel.

It is probably the only place where two time zones are precisely set, not for a geographical reason but rather by the sticky political status quo, and the inconvenience it brought can be felt so directly among the locals who, in fact, live in close proximity.

While most Israelis shared the same clock on both sides of the Green Line, the border separating pre-1967 Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories, the Palestinian people are divided by the dimension of time.

Palestinians in Israel and East Jerusalem followed the Israeli time, while those in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip changed to DST nearly two days later.

The experience is particularly jarring for more than 120,000 Palestinians who work in Israel and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, according to official statistics, since on the one hand, they observe Palestine Standard Time, on the other hand, the workplace commonly runs under Israeli time.

"Life has become very complicated. Some of them move between time zones several times a day," said Israeli news commentator Yuval Ben-Ami.

Take bus schedule for example, on Friday and Saturday, buses in East Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank operated under Israeli time, while mobile phones of most passengers still showed Palestinian time.

"You need to be aware of the time you show up in the workplace" during the clock-change period, said a Jerusalem resident Mark Salomon, out of worries that failing to keep track of time during commute may result in arriving late.

Telling the time in Jerusalem is even more confusing, given that some of its neighborhoods use Palestinian time. Not to mention that the time settings of mobile phones and apps are likely to vary between the west and east of the city. When a person crossed a street, her mobile phone clock can change in a tick.

"Although I live in Palestine and use Palestinian SIM cards, my phone automatically synchronizes with Israeli time," said Omar Abdeen, who resides in the West Bank city of Bethlehem near Jerusalem.

"I was so befuddled that I had to change the time zone setting from automatic to manual," he added.

On this one count, some Israelis suffered as much as the Palestinians from the man-made time difference. An Israeli man said going astray in time change once cost him a rage from his wife.

"I was playing poker with friends, and I promised my wife I'd be home by two at night," said the resident from Israel's Beit Shemesh. "I looked at the clock, saw it was 1:15, and thought I had 45 minutes. Then the other players told me it was in fact 2:15. I rushed home and my wife was waiting for me awake. She was not happy."

In most years, the date of Israel and Palestine to enter or exit DST varied by only a few days, but in some years the "time difference" was wider.

In 2013, Palestine switched off DST in late September, while it was not until late October that Israel leveled the time, ending an entire month of "time difference" troubling those who had to work across the borders and live in the border area between Israel and Palestine.

"It's stupid. I don't understand why we live together but at different time zones," complained Wassam, a resident of the West Bank city of Ramallah.