is it safe?

Visitors are often surprised at how modern Israel is and how safe and comfortable they feel. At the same time, Israel is a country with an ongoing conflict, with ups and downs of violence. Keep in mind that:

  • Our community has gotten to know the country and its challenges since our foundation here in 1975. We have 13 people living here all the time, ready to help us judge a situation or help us out in case of an emergency. We are located at The Holy Site of Emmaus Nicopolis, Laturn Interchange of Hwy 1 and Hwy 3. 

  • Our site at Emmaus is an ideal home base in case of any incident, whether you get ill, your grandma dies and you need to go home early, or the political situation takes a turn and we need to avoid part of our itinerary. We are just off the highway 20 min from the airport, but we are set aside from any Israeli or Palestinian inhabitants or businesses--10 minutes from the nearest town. We are one mile from a Trappist monastery, a museum, and gas station.

  • For the last 15 years, there have been periodic short-range missile exchanges between Israel and Gaza. These reprisals have not affected the safety of pilgrimages, since anti-missile rockets shoot down nearly all missiles. The border is relatively far from holy sites and pilgrim routes. In fact, during this period, tourism has steadily climbed to record heights.

  • 2014 was the only time we ever altered our itinerary for safety reasons, and it was only a precautionary measure, in order to keep a larger distance away. This latest incidents do not represent, in our view, any change in the situation.

  • We do not go near the Gaza border. The conflict with Gaza is something categorically different from Israel's peaceful, yet troublesome and tense relationship with the other Palestinian territories. For these, we are obliged to pass through security and passport checkpoints as we travel to Jericho, Bethlehem, and Hebron. This is usually quick, without any problems. We rarely have to wait, nor do Palestinians bearing legitimate documents.

  • Israeli security has nearly virtually eliminated the possibility of arms crossing borders. Soldiers and police surveillance are present all around, and for this, random violence or crime in the vicinity of where we will travel is rare.

  • The last few years, there have been riots near Damascaus Gate and the Temple Mount  Some of these have been in areas where we pass. As security measures prevent arms and explosives in these conflicts, there were minor injuries, but only a few deaths. If any new conflicts arise, we will be especially cautious to avoid risky places and times.

  • Israeli intelligence helps us know when there are alerts, for example, the possibility of Palestinian riots, a missile from Gaza or Syria. Escalation of the tensions with Iran should also be foreseeable, in which case we would cancel a trip.

  • You can send a text to Fr. Anthony's American number any time: 720.336.1492. You can also text or call Fr. Anthony Israeli cellphone (and Whatsapp): +972.58.472.35.28. In the event of an emergency, you can also call the cellphone of another brother at the monastery, Br. Anton, at +972.52.356.2071. 

 

There are no guarantees, however! I feel at peace encouraging anyone to visit, given this stable support we have with our community that has been here since 1975. Share this with your parents! I'm happy to talk with them on the phone, too.

 

Fr. Anthony Ariniello, CB

beatitudesmissions@gmail.com