UPDATE 10 am Israel time Friday:
At 1:45 am this morning, families in the southern Israeli communities around Gaza were awakened and sent running to their bomb shelters by incoming rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists.
Your humble servant never ceases to be amazed.
At a time when Israel finds itself in an ever more precarious situation with Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, at a time when Israel is under continuous daily bombardment from Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, at a time when the security situation in Judea and Samaria remains dangerous at best, and at a time when Israeli and international leftist NGOs are doing all they can can to besmirch Israel’s name and promote boycotts of the country–more people are showing their solidarity with Israel than ever before by coming here and seeing for themselves the wondrous nature of this country.
Yesterday, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics published the remarkable news that a record number of tourists–2,009,000–visited Israel between January 1-July 31 of this year, a 5% increase over the same period last year.
Of this number, 1,443,000 flew into Israel through Ben Gurion International Airport for “extended stays” of one week or more; 242,000 arrived by land from Egypt and Jordan for extended stays; and 324,000 arrived on “one day” trips via cruise lines at Israeli ports, one-day flights from Turkey and Cyprus, or again overland from Egypt.
And what are the top three countries whose citizens are coming here? The United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
It is no surprise that the number one destination of most of these tourists is Jerusalem–the eternal capital of Israel whose history, beauty, and religiosity is unlike any other.
Do you want to see what is happening at the Western Wall at this moment? Click here: two caveats, it will take 30-60 seconds for the livecam to load, and the livecam does not operate on Shabbat (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday or on Jewish holidays).
The other major “tourist destination cities” are, in order: Tel Aviv, Haifa, Akko (Acre), Tzfat (Safed), and Eilat down on the Red Sea–and I haven’t even mentioned such modern and growing cities of history and antiquity as Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheva, and Bet Shean. What do people do in these places? Simply walk around in them, sampling the delicious food, drinking in the unique Israeli environment, and going to museums (Israel has more museums per capita than any country in the world).
And if you’re not a city person–well, Israel has some of the most dramatic national parks in the world at Rosh Hanikra (on the Lebanese border), the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Mitzpe Ramon, Gan Hashlosha, and, and, and . . .
By the way, what are the top 10 “pay to enter” tourist destinations?
2. The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo:
3. Caesarea National Park:
Rounding out the top 10 are the Banias Nature Reserve, the Safari Zoo Zoological Center of Tel Aviv, the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and National Park, the Hamat Gader Hot Springs, the Eilat Underwater Observatory, the Caves of Qumran, and the Yamit 2000 Water Park.
And all of what I mentioned barely scratches the surface. What about Megiddo? What about Mt. Hermon? What about Avdat? What about Timna? There is no end of things to do and see here.
What have you done for Israel today? Have you booked your flight yet? Or your cruise? Show your solidarity with Israelis and come to Israel–come to the eternal center of the world for the time of your life. You will never be the same.
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