As we promote our Israel trips, I have a lot of people rightly concerned about their safety if they travel to Israel with us. I have been in Israel the last two years and I can start by telling you that tourists are extremely safe in Israel.
The first thing to remember is that the bombs exploding on buses and in restaurants in Israel were all before the walls were built, walls that are doing a remarkable job of keeping terrorist from the Palestinian Controlled Territories out of Israel. The bombings have stopped.
It is also important to note that last year there were over 4,000,000 tourists in Israel, many of them also traveling into Palestinian Controlled Territories to see sites like Bethlehem and Jericho. That means that the Israelis and the Palestinians have a great need for tourists to be protected. This is especially true because tourism is the main source of revenue for Israel and Palestinian Controlled Territories.
Tour companies in Israel are very vigilant in making sure the areas where we are traveling are safe. I have been into Shilo, which is an Israeli settlement inside Palestinian Controlled Territory. By the way, their olive oil is very, very good! The students, children, there are guarded by armed security. As a tourist I felt completely safe there, as did the other 33 people who were with me at the time. We spent an entire afternoon in Shilo without incident. I am going back again in August 19. On the last trip I talked to our tour guide about going into an area controlled by the Palestinians to visit Jacob’s Well. The tour guide was emphatic that we would not be going there because he did not consider it safe. That ended the discussion and we went where everyone knew we would be safe.
On any given tour we travel through checkpoints into and out of Palestinian Controlled Territory 6-10 times. They have all been without incident.
I was in Jerusalem when President Trump announced that the US was moving its embassy to Jerusalem. The Palestinians declared three days of rage at that time. That means there will likely be days of violence in areas where Palestinians live. On the first day of rage my group traveled into Bethlehem, which is inside Palestinian Controlled Territory. We walked around downtown Bethlehem, ate lunch in a restaurant there, shopped in the shops on the main street, went to the Church of the Nativity there, and rode out of town—during a day of rage and without incident. The next day, also a day of rage, the tour companies discontinued their trips into Bethlehem in an abundance of caution. This is what I mean by the tour companies in Israel are vigilant in their protection of the people traveling with them.
During in the days of rage we heard a lot of fighter jets flying. I used to live in Virginia Beach, Virginia and we considered the jet noise from the air base there to be the sounds of freedom. That is how I view it in Israel, the Israeli Air Force dominates the region, so when they are flying, I feel safer.
Finally, inside the land of Israel is very peaceful. Jews, Arabs (Muslim and Christian), and Christians all live together in peace. They are neighbors and they coexist with great understanding.
Do not let fear keep you out. We are diligent, and the tour companies are diligent. Everything will be fine in Israel. Go and enjoy the country! Walk where Jesus walked!
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Jay J. says
Joel is absolutely correct. I went to Israel with a group Joel led right after the death of Qassem Soleimani and never one time did I feel nervous or unsafe. The police and military are highly visible and from what I could tell crime was virtually non-existant in the places we visited. You will feel safer in Israel that in most major cities in the United States.