When you are traveling out of the country, you need to stay updated on the political issues. There are times when it’s just not safe to travel to various countries. Situations change all the time, and you can check with your state department or foreign affairs department to learn the latest news.
As you prepare for your tour to Israel, much of your need for concern will depend on how you are traveling. For example, if you are traveling with a tour group, you can depend on your group leader and organization to keep a careful eye on political and military developments. On the other hand, if you are traveling alone, you will need to do your research and check on developments both before buying your tickets and also before leaving on your trip.
There are some key things to remember regardless of how you are traveling. The media often only shows us only the negative side of Israel and the Middle East, but it’s important to remember that most of the time, there are no problems at all. People live in these countries and go about their daily business with little problem.
The main thing to remember is that things are going to look very differently when traveling to these countries. In many countries, there is little political upheaval so people don’t even stop to consider that it may be different somewhere else. In Israel, however, you will see many soldiers of the IDF – Israeli Defense Force.
The IDF is mostly comprised of younger people, ages 18-30, both men and women, who have been drafted to serve. Most of them will have uniforms, and you will see them everywhere you go. This is somewhat upsetting to some westerners, but the presence of the IDF is a good thing.
If the IDF sees anything unusual, they will immediately investigate without hesitation. If they see a suspicious looking person, they will also investigate. They may search the bags of someone, x-ray their belonging, check them with a metal detector and sometimes even do a body search.
Many terrorist attacks have been stopped because of the watchful eye of the IDF. To say that they are suspicious is an understatement because their job is so vital. Therefore, all tourists should be careful not to attract attention to themselves. Do not stare at the IDF, do not do anything unusual or wear unusual or political clothing.
When traveling, it’s always safer to walk and avoid areas that are extremely congested. If you see anyone who looks suspicious or comes across a demonstration, quickly leave the area. No one is looking to harm tourists, but these situations quickly get out of control, so it’s best to stay out of harm’s way. If you are with a tour group, stay with your group. It’s safer, and your guide knows where the group will always be safe.
Most importantly, remember that it’s safe to travel to Israel. Because of the volatile political situation in Palestine, Syria and the Gulf States, travel to Israel is always prefaced with safeguards. However, as long as you use common sense and stay in safe places, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. There are just too many interesting sights in Israel to avoid it due to the fear of what might happen. Go, enjoy yourself and take home life-lasting memories!