Girishkumar Kumaran

A curious being

Is it safe to travel to Israel?

Quick answer: YES.

I live in Israel for the past 3 years in a settlement called Ariel. The settlement is part of the region widely known as “West Bank.” In my experience, it is entirely safe to travel around in Israel and the Israeli territories within the West Bank region as long as you stick to some basic stuff.

In the rest of the article, I will explain my experience living here, and I will list out certain things that anyone need be mindful while in Israel.

I always plan my trips in advance.

That means I know where I am going, which bus I am going to take, and what I am going to eat, and when I am going to return. I have traveled through routes within West Bank specifically the one leading to Jerusalem from Ariel that even Israelis are apprehensive to travel. At least a bunch of them I know will purely avoid that route given another option. Nothing happened to me. Not even an eyebrow raise. I am still here to tell you the story.

On these routes, the buses are supposedly bombproof, and frequently I see that the driver has a gun.

A recent conversation between my friend and I went like this:

She (with her typical Israeli accent): “You know what, Girish, I have to drive through the route xx to go to Jerusalem today, and I am scared.”

Me: “I went through that route last Friday to Gazelle Valley. It was perfectly fine.”

She: “You did what….”

Me: stares….

She: “You are insane..”

Let your Israeli friends know what your plans are

Or read the news. Israelis are one of the warmest people I have ever met. They will promptly let you know if there is a problem with the places that you plan to go. I think last year during Pesach there was some unrest near the border at Eilat and I was advised by my friends not to go. I did not go. That’s it.

Once in a while bomb threats – fake or real – may disrupt your travel

Tip: Install Waze and be aware of any kind of traffic disruptions – not only bomb threats.

Happened to me twice in the last three years- all within mainland Israel. Once near Rishon LeZion and once in Tel Aviv. At Rishon, I was just stuck in traffic for let’s say 45 minutes. That’s it. I saw all kind of police action going on far away, and it was fun to watch. I mean, I was seeing that for the first time.

When the second time it happened my Chinese friend and I was returning to Ariel from Haifa. We got out of the train station in Tel Aviv and were at a bus stop waiting for a bus to Ariel. A few moments later one or two police cars arrived, and they quickly sealed the area. We had to walk to another bus stop, and it was quite far. It was late evening, and we were lucky that we found our bus. Otherwise, we, the two tired brats could have been stuck in Tel Aviv at night.

I know that there bomb shelters almost everywhere, and in the unlikely event that you ever happened to need one, follow the crowds.

Protests in major cities

All kind of protests – both first-world types and real ones – do happen in major cities in Israel. It may just disrupt your plans. Be aware of the news. Or Install waze. You will come to know major traffic disruptions.

Welcome to Tel Aviv. Police closed roads ahead of protests and this is what you get in your Facebook Timeline.

I have been out in Tel Aviv all night many times, and nothing happened.

There is a very nice bar that I like near the clock tower of Jaffa. To go there, I sometimes get down near the beach in Dizengoff and walk all the way through the beachside till Jaffa. The walking dehydrates me enough to approach that beer with all the desire I have for it. I love every sip of it. I have then walked all around Tel Aviv from places to place all by myself or with friends. Not even a single incident happened with me.

The “dreaded” southern Tel Aviv

Been there many times. Because both the Indian stores are there and I have no choice but to go there. It’s true that there are people who are homeless, beggars, drug addicts, and prostitutes. There is almost always police patrol around that region. Once or twice I have seen some kind of police action going on in the streets, but not sure what. It may be wise to be a little bit self-conscious there but again nothing happened to me, nor I have been approached by anyone with any wrong intentions.

Avoid conflict zones

Why do you even want to be in places like Gaza if you are a tourist? Just avoid it. Always read your national government’s travel advisory and avoid areas that they recommend. There are hundreds of things to do in Jerusalem, Eilat, Negev desert, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and further northern regions of Israel that are safe.

Be prepared for cat terrorism

No. You don’t escape from them. You surrender. It doesn’t matter where you are in Israel they will tag you, and they will ask you for food. This is their nation. Tom is their king. Israelis are just caretakers. Obey their order. Giveth respect, taketh respect.

Put your rav kav here human 😺Credit to: Dan Kashani

Posted by Matt Sharabi on Thursday, January 31, 2019
Put your travel card here human….

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