Israeli Soldiers

Israeli Soldiers

Oskar Schindler Grave West Bank Wall
   
Israeli Soldiers

Jewish Israeli soldiers guard Jewish sites like the Wailing Wall, while Arab Catholic and Arab Orthodox Israeli soldiers guard Islamic sites like Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. (All able-bodied Israeli men and women are required to serve as soldiers for 3 years and 2 years, respectively, in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF)).

I met and chatted with these two Jewish Israeli soldiers one night, and then ran into them again the next day just inside the Damascus Gate. This shot was taken just before they broke into grins upon recognizing the person calling out to them from behind the camera.

Security is taken seriously in Israel, especially in Jerusalem. The steel chamber below for isolating suspicious objects was installed in the Wailing Wall plaza a few days after my arrival in Jerusalem. Also installed down the middle of the plaza were explosion-absorbing vertical partitions so that if something detonated, half of the plaza will be spared.

Jerusalem ChamberWhen I knocked on the steel chamber (left), it didn't even sound hollow, so its wall must have been pretty thick, and understandably so.

Given how nonchalant the locals were about the installation of the chamber and vertical partitions, I suspected that their presence in the plaza isn't unusual and mirrors the rise and fall of the political and religious tensions in Israel.

Travel Tip
If violence does flare up during your visit to Israel, try to avoid groups of Israeli soldiers in uniform but not on-duty; they tend to be the bombers' most sought-after targets.

And be advised that machine guns are everywhere in Israel. The soldiers carry guns both on and off duty and many civilians carry guns too. It's common to see men taking their wives and children for leisurely sunset strolls with Uzi sub-machine guns slung over their shoulders, or a group of teenagers out for an evening with M16 submachine guns slung over theirs (one such group of boys told me that they are not allowed to drink alcohol when out with their guns). The ubiquity of guns with live ammunition clips may be unsettling at first, but you'll get used to it after a few days... well, sort of.

Oskar Schindler Grave West Bank Wall
Israel Jerusalem Jesus Birthplace Jesus Tomb
Dome of the Rock Lake of Gennesaret Why Was Jesus Crucified?
Al Aqsa Mosque Sermon on the Mount Mount of Olives
Wailing Wall Prayers Capernaum Christian Hospice
Damascus Gate Tabgha Palestinian Christians
Jerusalem Wall Qumran Caves Evangelizing Israel
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Oskar Schindler Grave Via Dolorosa Temple of Diana
Israeli Soldiers Holy Sepulcher Church Ephesus Theater
West Bank Wall Tomb of Jesus? Ephesus Church
Nativity Church Golgotha Recommended Reading
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