Israel is a small, narrow, semi-arid country on the south-eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. It entered history some 35 centuries ago when the Jewish people forsook its nomadic way of life, settled in the Land and became a nation.
Israel is a land and a people. The history of the Jewish people, and its roots in the Land of Israel, spans some 35 centuries. It’s cultural, national and religious identity was formed here, its physical presence has been maintained unbroken throughout the centuries, even after the majority was forced into exile. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence, lost almost 2,000 years earlier, was renewed.
Thousands of years of history, the in-gathering of the Jews from over 70 countries, a society of multi-ethnic communities living side by side, and an unending flow of international input via satellite and cable have contributed to the development of an Israeli culture which reflects worldwide elements while striving for an identity of its own. Cultural expression through the arts is as varied as the people themselves, with literature, theatre, concerts, radio and television programming, entertainment, museums and galleries for every interest and taste.
The official languages of the country are Hebrew and Arabic, but in the country’s streets many other languages can be heard. Hebrew, the language of the Bible, long restricted to liturgy and literature, was revived a century ago, accompanying the renewal of Jewish life in the Land.
Tourism in Israel
A total of 3.1 million tourists visited Israel in the year 2015, according to figures released recently by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Additionally, an all-time record was set in the number of Israeli departures abroad with almost six million departures.
On the whole Israel is extremely safe to travel through, however we are all aware of the news stories which discuss terrorism and this makes the traveller more aware of the risks and attacks that can occur. We know from the various members of our organisation who travel regularly to Israel that they never encounter problems. Realistically like any other country as long as you stay in safe areas and do not cross borders you will remain safe.
Favourite places to visit are Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Netanya, Herzliya and Galilee.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Israel is located smack in the middle of one of the world’s biggest political hotspots. But it does take a few to keep this tiny country along the eastern Mediterranean safe and secure, and that seems to be why Israel is bouncing back big time.
Israel is no doubt one of the planet’s top bucket list destinations for travellers from all over the world. As a hub of three of the world’s major religions and being cradle-of-civilization-adjacent, the modern state of Israel literally sits on top of thousands of years of incredibly dense history. At the same time, it is also a diverse, vibrant, trendy, and modern country with great night life that would be a top tourist destination even without its ancient biblical roots.
In the past, semi-frequent wars and skirmishes with its neighbours have kept many tourists at bay, and recent conflicts ensured a recent flood of sensational news headlines in the States and Europe that left Israel’s tourism industry in a decline, however this is now growing at a very fast rate again.
Unbeknownst to many, over the past 15 years Israel has implemented a series of both low-tech and high-tech solutions that have amazingly rendered the vast majority of the country perfectly safe and secure even during the occasional flare-ups around its borders.
In 2002, following another round of suicide bombings intentionally targeting Israeli civilians, the government built a physical wall around nearly its entire border with the West Bank. The combination of enormous concrete slabs along some of the more urban stretches with highly sophisticated “smart fences” (which can detect cutting, climbing, jumping, and even stray animals) along the more rural parts of the border almost immediately helped bring about a 98% decline in terrorism in the country by the following year.
Similarly, Israel’s state-of-the-art Iron Dome missile defence system detects and shoots down any rockets that are now fired into the country from the militants who embed themselves in civilian neighbourhoods in the neighbouring Gaza Strip. While these rockets usually don’t go any farther than the desert area surrounding that border, ones that find their way farther into the country are met with not one but two Iron Dome intercept missiles as backup. Israel is even now nearing completion of a much more advanced system to intercept and destroy longer range guided missiles, such as the kind that more militarized countries like Iran would have access to.
The United States have only had marginal success developing their own missile defence systems dating back to the days of the Star Wars initiatives under President Reagan, however Israel has implemented a system of both tight border and air security that allows Israelis to now go about their daily lives under a blanket of relative calm, stability, and security. For tourists to Israel, this means that visiting the country and even traveling around within it is completely safe, despite the occasional incident or flare up that makes the news back home.
Despite tourists’ initial queasiness with returning to Israel in mid to late 2014, the few last years have seen a return to higher levels of international visitors. Recently, Israel once again hosted the Middle East’s only LGBT Pride celebration in Tel Aviv and it was its largest one to date, not to mention one of the world’s hottest and most diverse Pride celebrations anywhere.
DJ’s on the beach pumped music out over the white sand and azure Mediterranean by day, and clubs and bars packed in crowds from all over Israel in addition to Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America by night. Cafes, restaurants, and tourist sites throughout the rest of the country were bustling again, and many visitors were even giving Jordan a little tourist love too by jetting over to Petra for a day while they were close by.
There’s no doubt that the political situation in the region remains tense and there are some very serious and consequential issues of territory, citizenship, and governance of the Palestinian people that must be settled before a true blanket of peace will fall on this part of the Middle East. But even while the political processes, dialogues, negotiations, and yes even occasional fights and skirmishes continue, the reality on the ground within Israel proper is that the country is certainly a secure and safe destination for international tourists to visit.
All visitors to Israel are subject to background checks and security screening. Israel mandates the use of profiling while conducting these checks. These precautionary measures are Israel’s way of attempting to mitigate any violence within its borders.
Israel supports a modernised medical industry that is equivalent to those in ay modern western state. In order to keep tourists safe, the country offers emergency signs and information about hospitals, medical facilities and pharmacies in English and other languages. No vaccinations are required to visit the country, but the World Health Organisation issues occasional travel advisories to help keep you safe from outbreaks as it would anywhere else in the world. It is recommended to obtain medical insurance when visiting Israel to help prevent unwanted costs from emergencies.
Travel within the country is generally considered safe in regards to road conditions, but urban roadways are often crowded, with some drivers failing to practice safe procedures such as maintaining a good following distance and signalling.
So pack up your bags, book your flights and have a safe trip to Israel
and enjoy all the delights that the region has to offer , safely.
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