Is it safe to travel to Israel? Many people find themselves dreaming, hoping and really feeling the urgency or need to travel to the Holy Land, the only place on earth where Jesus Christ walked. The urgency is unusual, I felt it myself and I cannot overstate the impact a trip to the Holy Land had on my relationship with Christ, my Bible studies and my desire to spread God’s Word.
Israel in the Daily News…
While Israel seems to be the star of the daily news, visiting the Holy Land is no different than taking a vacation and traveling to other parts of the world. According to the Traveling Israel blog “The crime rate in Israel is much lower than other countries around the world and the rest is quite a lot of noise and bad publicity. Israel’s first goal is to protect its citizens and the security of the country is the best, maybe the best in the world.
” We’ve all heard stories about EL AL’s security procedures, making Israel’s national airline the safest in the world, and that’s what Israelis do best – keeping everything safe.” Violence everywhere should not be underestimated. Tensions between neighborhoods, ethnic groups, political groups, and the authorities as well as civilians can be found in most countries and Israel certainly has a hand in all of them.
The Middle East
Due to the larger strife that is taking place in the Middle East, any violence that arises is widely reported around the world, quickly and efficiently, as we all know, bad news spreads fast! The Middle East is a hotbed of war and strife and frankly, it has been like that for thousands of years. That doesn’t mean that anyone planning to travel to Israel should ignore current events but a careful look at news articles can actually be reassuring.
One article I read recently had a particularly provocative depiction of masked protesters who appeared to be Palestinians. The caption, in small print, contains the fact that it comes from the protests in Casablanca, Morocco. Of course we need to be careful when traveling to the Holy Land, but lest the media, with their need for sensational news, get in the way.
The current wave of violence is by all accounts disorganized and sporadic, and while we know that bloodshed is not uncommon in this part of the Middle East, these stabbings, shootings, and mass pursuits are very different from the orchestrated rocket attacks and suicide bombings in contemporary confrontations. front. then.
The Israeli military has successfully used the “Iron Dome” missile defense system to intercept rocket fire from Gaza or the north, plus the country has spent a lot of money developing intelligence networks to stop potential suicide bombings and terrorist infiltrations. However, as the Oct. 15 article from CNN points out, this latest wave of violent confrontation is, “…a major low-tech response to Israel’s high-tech and high-cost security.”
Most Middle Eastern authorities, including Israel, do not blame these attacks on militant groups or united factions like Hamas. Although Hamas lauds the Palestinian attackers, it has not claimed responsibility for any violence, a direct difference from previous confrontations. The previous “Intifada” required infrastructure to provide attackers with the resources, materials, and transportation to put them in place to carry out attacks, which is not the case in current attacks.
Beer Sheva Attack Attack
Although the attack in Beer Sheva on Sunday, October 18 was reported by the media as another act of violence in the ongoing “Israel versus Palestine” story, it is unclear whether the attackers were motivated by tensions. The person responsible is an Arab Bedouin citizen of Israel and although some Bedouins identify as Palestinian, they are their own ethnic group in Israel and other Arab countries.
The Bedouin group has been at loggerheads with authorities in the Middle East over their own issues, and as such the police have not been able to determine the motive for the Beer Sheva attack.
Why Travel to Israel?
Wayne Stiles, Pastor, Teacher, and Author, writes comprehensive blogs, some of which are about traveling to Israel. He has a great way of discussing safety while traveling to Israel plus how big a difference that trip can make in your personal life. The following are two excerpts from Wayne’s blog, Connecting the Bible and its Lands to Life:
You Will Never Be The Same!
My first trip to Israel had a huge impact on my life, I’m Married, Is this normal? Did anyone else have a similar experience in the Holy Land? Over the next several years, I conducted my doctoral research on how a tour of Israel affects the spiritual life of a Christian. After surveying hundreds of Christians who had traveled to the Holy Land, I found:
1. 99% agree that experiencing the land of Israel has strengthened their spiritual life.
2. 96% have increased in their love for God and the Bible through a study of Bible lands.
3. 98% noted that knowing the land of the Bible helped their memory of Bible events.
Security in the Holy Land
Traveling to Israel is safe. I know, I know, I watch the news too. This trip marked my 10th trip to Israel in the last 14 years, and I have never felt unsafe. Not once.
• If everything we know about America comes from what we learn on the news, we will have a very distorted perspective.
• Think of a big city near you. For me, this is Dallas. There are parts of Dallas that I don’t go to. However, I travel to Dallas often, as I have done thousands of times. I’ve even lived there! Going doesn’t matter if you know where to go—and where not to go.
• I have known and worked with our tour operators for over 12 years. They put your comfort and safety first during your trip. Trust me, it is in the best interest of the travel company, you are safe! And you will.
• In fact, the number of tourists to Israel continues to increase. As of September 2012, Israel had 305,000 visitors—the highest number in a single month, reports the Central Bureau of Statistics.
All of the above does not take away from the fact that on any holiday it is necessary to take precautions. Common sense tells us to be aware of our surroundings and to make sure we take steps to be safe when we step out of our comfort zone and travel somewhere different.
• Make sure your tour guide considers your safety
Our guide Ezer will be with the group for 12 full days, he will meet us at Tel Aviv Airport on the first day, spend the night in the same hotel and travel with us on the bus.
• Guides should be up-to-date on current events and in touch with officials
Ezer is in constant contact with tourism officials, he himself is ex-military and has close contacts in the area.
• Tour and bus routes are limited to approved and safe locations
We did not travel to the location in the West Bank, namely Bethlehem, because Israeli guides are not allowed to do their tours of the area, the tour must be left to the Palestinian guide and Ezer will not do that.
• Buses are never left alone or unlocked
You will get to know the bus drivers, they never leave the bus and the bus is locked at all times when we are not in the bus.
• Hotel settings are limited to well-known hotel chains and in safe areas
We stayed at two famous hotels, the Gai Beach Hotel in Tiberias and the Leonardo Plaza in Jerusalem. Both are in a safe and clean area of the city.
• When traveling to Israel, use El Al, as all flights and baggage transfers are supervised by Israeli security
Our nonstop round trip flight from LAX to Tel Aviv is in El Al.
• Do not leave the group to travel to the Gaza Strip and West Bank
• Drink lots of water
The bus driver fills the bus with water every day, asking for $1.00 per bottle, so water is readily available.
• Make a copy of your passport and documentation
The fact that you have concerns and questions about traveling to the Holy Land is not unusual. No one makes their first trip without trepidation, but anyone who has had the privilege of traveling to Israel will tell you that the experience changed their life and that as long as they were in the Holy Land, they never felt insecure.