“The uproar of enemies” Psalm 83
You can put this in the “believe it or not” category….even those who refuse to acknowledge God still follow His plan. The writer of Psalm 83 tells us that His enemies “devise crafty schemes,” “they conspire against His people,” and they have made a unanimous decision to “wipe out Israel as a nation.” Nothing is a surprise to God; it’s all in His plan.
Despite prophecy and what you see in the news, Israel is actually a very safe country to travel in and when compared to many Western countries and cities, Israel rates incredibly high on personal safety regarding security and crime statistics. It’s easy to associate all of Israel with the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, but these areas are not where most of the population lives and certainly not where you will be visiting.
So, is it safe to travel to Israel, the Holy Land? Yes, 99% of sites in the Holy Land that you want to see are extremely safe, however some Old Testament sites, including Abraham’s Tomb, Shechem, Hebron, Jericho and even Bethlehem, lie in the West Bank and should be visited with caution. Foreign governments rarely include Israel proper in travel alerts, instead, travel advisories specifically warn against visiting the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (which includes Biblical Samaria).
Brothers and Enemies, Tribes and Clans
The reality on the ground is that the Holy Land is a secure and safe destination for visitors. There’s no doubt that the political situation in the region has always been and still remains edgy. Even so, once you are in country and meet Israelis and Palestinians, you will find that the majority of the population has wants and needs just like yours, to raise their families, make a living, educate their children, and enjoy their homes and communities.
Most Israel news today, in the fall of 2022, is about attacks in the West Bank and East Jerusalem rather than a war-like struggle between Gaza militants and the Israeli Army. The latest newsworthy attacks are part of a spasm of violence that follows the August 7th, 2022 ceasefire brokered after a week of strife in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The PIJ, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, is the second largest terror group in Gaza after Hamas and its primary sponsor is Iran, which has provided millions of dollars in funding as well as training and weapons. Since the ceasefire, the PIJ has increased its presence and activities in the West Bank, stepping up attacks on Israeli settlers, IDF soldiers, installations and check-points. Places where faith-based tours will not take you.
Politically, there are serious and substantial issues of hegemony, not to mention territorial and citizenship concerns that need to be resolved before even a fragile peace in the Middle East emerges as a possibility. Bringing the Palestinian issue to a resolution does not enhance the political ambitions of Arab nations surrounding Israel, apparently it is better for their governments that the “two state,” “one state” or “no state” basketball stays as the flashpoint for all their agendas. It would seem that when God declared in Genesis 16:12 that the descendants of Abraham’s sons, Ishmael and Isaac, would live in open hostility towards each other He meant it; so a lasting peace, brokered by man, is just not in the cards.
Tourists Keep Coming
Travel statistics verify that Israel is still high on most people’s bucket list. A September 8th, 2022 article by CISION PRNewswire told of record breaking tourist arrivals in Israel from the United States. In July 2022 Israel welcomed 82,000 American visitors which was a 4% increase over pre-COVID travelers for the same period in 2019. There were definitely two slow years for Israeli travel, actually worldwide travel, due to universal COVID restrictions. I traveled to Israel in October 2021, in between the Delta and Omicron surges, and the COVID requirements were daunting for travelers and guides alike. But in March 2022 Israel lifted all COVID restrictions to travel which made most of us give a resounding PRAISE THE LORD!
So the worldwide pandemic did what the news of fighting and spasms of violence could not do…stop us from walking where Jesus walked. The pre-pandemic numbers for Israel travel were off the charts. In 2019 Israel welcomed 4.6 million visitors with 970,000 coming from the US. This year, 2022, since May when all restrictions were lifted and despite a few days of fighting between the IDF and militants in Gaza, the country has been visited by 600,000+ US travelers. According to Statista.com by the end of 2022 Israel will welcome 3.07 million visitors. In 2023, 3.89 million are expected and in 2024, finally reaching and topping 2019, 4.76 million will enter the country as tourists and visitors. Then, in an incredible surge, by 2025 Israel is on track to welcome 5.68 million visitors to the Holy Land. You need to make sure that you are one of those visitors during the next two or three years!
You Are Not Alone
The fact that you have concerns and questions about traveling to the Holy Land is not unusual. No one makes that first trip without some trepidation, but everyone who has had the privilege of traveling to Israel will tell you that the experience changed their life and that while they were in the Holy Land they never felt unsafe. That being said, precautions need to be taken whenever we are away from home. Common sense tells us to be aware of our surroundings and to make sure we are taking measures to be safe and secure.
•Obtain comprehensive travel medical insurance that includes medical evacuation
•Watch out for and beware of unattended items like backpacks, bags or purses
•Avoid demonstrations and maintain a high degree of awareness in your surroundings
•Make sure your tour guides take your safety seriously
Our guide Ezer travels with the group the entire trip, he meets us at the Tel Aviv Airport the first day, spends the nights in the same hotels and travels with us on the bus.
• Make sure your tour guides are up-to-date on current events and in contact with officials
Ezer is in contact at all times with tourist officials, he is ex-military and has close contacts in that area.
• Make sure the tours and bus routes are limited to approved and secure locations
We do not travel to locations in the West Bank, and only travel to Bethlehem or Jericho after every precaution has been taken.
• Buses should never be left alone or unlocked, your guide will assure you of this
• Ask if your accommodations are in well-known hotel chains and in secure areas
We stay in well-known hotels, the Gai Beach Hotel in Tiberias and the Leonardo Plaza in Jerusalem and Eilat.
• Always fly on El Al, because all flights and luggage transfers are supervised by Israeli security
Our round-trip, non-stop flight from the US to Tel Aviv is on El Al
• Don’t leave the group to travel to the Gaza Strip and West Bank
• Drink plenty of water
Our bus drivers stock the buses with water each day, asking $1.00 a bottle.
• Make copies of your passport and documents
Find a faith-based tour that fits your schedule and needs, you will return safe and changed!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.” – Mark Twain
4 thoughts on “Traveling Safely In The Holy Land”
Motti, Ezer’s Dad, was our guide during my first tour, and co-owned the company by the time of my second. Subsequently, Ezer was groomed to take-over and the trips with HLP Tours have always been the safest, even when Prime Minister Rabin was killed and all the airports were shut, we received the best attention, security and care by Motti et al. In addition, the tours are devoted to confirm 100% what the Bible contains. Therefore I swear by HLP Tour’s God-inspired service.
Thank you for your comment, our first two tours were with Motti, after his passing were have been blessed to be with Ezer the rest of our tours. The entire family is incredible! Thank you again!
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