(Editor’s Note: Jason Tudor, GCMC Public Affairs Specialist, is blogging all week from Israel. He is traveling with the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies field studies trip March 5-11. These blog entries are from his travels with the students, attending lectures and experiencing their studies first hand. Students and many lecturers cannot be identified due to the nature of their professions.)
We’re staying in Tel Aviv this week and traveling to a number of locations. The March 6 locations were Latrun and Jerusalem.
In Latrun, we visited the Armor museum and memorial at the site. There are better than 60 pieces of armor on the site, which also has a clear view from the West Bank from its roof. Our hosts reminded us that Jordan’s border was even closer until 1967. Having those challenges so close made everyone look twice at what they were seeing. Our tour guides, Israeli reserve generals in the fields of intelligence and special forces, offered great detail about the Latrun site, a former British police headquarters until the creation of Israel in 1948.
From Latrun we traveled to Jerusalem and made several stops. First, Ramat Rachel. On its roof, we could see into Jordan, the West Bank and see Bethlehem over a ridge. Our tour guide very clearly pointed out the demographic challenges with Jerusalem, divided into so many difference regions. the roads reflect that, too, with signs and arrows pointing every which way.
Our next stop was the Rachel Transit Point. This is a heavily fortified area that allows people to travel from Israel into the West bank. More importantly, it gives access to Bethlehem. Barbed wire, guard towers and patrols are constant. So are the sight of the 10-meter walls, walls that encircle the West Bank some 660 kilometers. Students got extensive information on security. We could see people walking in and out of the two countries the entire time. For me, this was the most interesting stop on the trip.
Our final Jerusalem stop was near the United Nations site there. Unfortunately, our trip to old Jerusalem (near the Western Wall and such) got canceled that day due to security concerns. So, instead we viewed the area from a distance and received a fantastic lecture from a reserve Israeli general. He talked about “Jerusalem Syndrome,” and much more. Fantastic insight to the security of old Jerusalem and even more on how the city stays safe.
The day wrapped at about 7 p.m. One of the participants from Slovena enjoyed the trip, but wished he could have seen Old Jerusalem. Photos can be found on our public Facebook fan page.