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July 26, 2014 / 28 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

4.8 Million Israelis Traveled Overseas in 2013

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

4.8 million Israelis traveled overseas in 2013, according to a report in Yisrael Hayom.

That’s an amazing number, considering there are only 8 million citizens in Israel. It’s also the highest ratio of travelers to citizens in the world.

It’s was a 11.6% increase from 2012, up from 4.3 million. The average traveler’s age is 40, and 900,000 Israelis traveled out more than once.

July and August accounted for 1.7 million Israelis abroad. If you add in the holidays in September and October, that number jumps to 2.7 million. An astounding one-third of the country was overseas at the same time.

With numbers like that, it’s no wonder Israel never feels crowded.

Quite interesting, the time when most Israelis stop flying out of Israel are during wars and national emergencies, when the number of travelers out of the country drops dramatically and people choose to stay in Israel.

Go figure.

Negev Loses Airport Night Trains

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Residents of southern Israel – particularly those living in the periphery communities in the Negev – will no longer have the option of taking the train to and from the airport after 11:00 p.m.

A spokesperson for Israel Railways told The Jewish Press on Thursday morning the service just didn’t pay for itself. “The government and the railway company made the decision together,” said the spokesperson, who added the figures totaled only an average of five or six riders per night on the line. “It wasn’t cost effective.”

Instead, it was decided the Metropoline Bus Service will take over the route, she said. Bus #469 will begin at the Arlozorov station in Tel Aviv and then make a stop at the airport, travel to Kiryat Gat and then go to the central bus station in Be’er Sheva.

That’s a solution for folks who live in the city of Be’er Sheva itself, perhaps – but what about those who live in the small periphery towns where bus service doesn’t exist overnight?

“Tough luck, baby,” said one consumer. “We’re stuck with paying hundreds of shekels for travel after 11 pm, just like we always have – and that after first spending hours traveling to the other cities just to get a little closer. Instead of paying NIS 600 to get home, I end up paying NIS 300 from Be’er Sheva, but spend three more hours after a 12-hour flight and another hour or more in baggage claims. Forget it.”

The Negev region comprises 60 percent of the nation’s land mass – but its travel network has yet to be developed to the point that even half of its communities have any access to railway service at all.

When asked why there is still no railway branch route to Arad, for example — while Dimona, a city of similar size and population, has had one for several years – the spokesperson for Israel Railways could not find a reason. Arad, a ‘clean air’ resort town located about 45 minutes east of Be’er Sheva and 25 minutes west of the Dead Sea, is in the midst of a major development boom due to the expansion of Route 31, which runs between the two points.

The Nevatim air base is located near Route 31 – described in Hebrew media as ‘death road’ due to the high number of motor vehicle fatalities that have occurred along the highway — as is the Nahal army base at Tel Arad.

Tunisia Leader Facing Flack Over Jewish Pilgrimage to El Ghriba

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Just one day after Tunisia’s leader urged officials not to make a fuss over normalization of ties with Israel, the country’s parliament voted to “interview” its tourism minister for deciding to allow Israelis to participate in the annual Lag B’Omer pilgrimage to El Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba.

The elected National Constituent Assembly (NCA) has announced it will question Tourism Minister Amel Karboul over the decision to allow Israelis to enter Tunisia.  Also to be “interviewed” will be Security Minister Sefar Ridha, according to international media reports.

“Our problem is not with our Jewish brothers who come for the pilgrimage but with the Zionist entity that occupies Palestinian territories,” said leftist Democratic Alliance head Mohammed Hamdi.

Since the country’s Jasmine Revolution in January 2011, Tunisia has struggled with a massive economic crisis.  Interim Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa warned the parliament Tuesday it was in Tunisia’s best interest to “make the tourist season a success, because tourism is one of the activities that brings immediate cash to the country.”

Of those activities, Jomaa noted, tourism professionals have determined “the pilgrimage to Ghriba must be successful for the tourist season to be successful.” He added, “This is a tradition known to us – the pilgrimage has been taking place for years.”

The tourism industry in Tunisia employs some 400,000 people and accounts for seven percent of the GDP.  Jomaa’s decision to create a policy of tourism “transparency” means that Israelis can for the first time use their official passports to enter the country for the pilgrimage, rather than a specific Tunisian embassy-issued document.

Tunisia had “offices of interest” in Tel Aviv in 1996, and Israel had one in Tunis as well. Those ties were established just two years after the closure of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headquarters which had existed in Tunisia for the twelve years prior.  But the fragile ties established between Tunisia and Israel were torn apart in October 2000 when the PLO succeeded in launching the second intifada in Israel – prompting Tunis to freeze ties in a protest against Israel’s efforts to quell the violence.

For years Jews have gone to Tunisia for the pilgrimage, with or without formal Israeli-Tunisian diplomatic ties. But an Al Qaeda terror attack on the synagogue in 2002 left 21 people dead, and killed the tourist event for the next decade. The Jasmine Revolution and the Arab Spring did the rest.

Warning of Imminent Terror Attack in Sinai

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Security officials have issued a warning of an imminent terror attack in the Sinai Peninsula in northern Egypt, and Germany has advised its citizens to flee the area.

Intelligence agents in Egypt reportedly tapped phone conversations between a Sinai terrorist group and Palestinian Authority Palestinian terrorists outside of Egypt, who instructed the group how to carry out an attack.

The warning from Germany, whose citizens make up one of the largest groups of tourists in the Sinai and Red Sea resort, comes one week after a bus bombing near Tuba, in which three tourists and their driver were killed.

Earlier this week, terrorists in Sinai attacked the natural gas pipeline to Jordan for the fifth time this year, detonating a bomb.

US Pilots Warn: Terrorists Trying ‘Dry Runs’ for New 9/11

Monday, October 14th, 2013

The U.S. Airline Pilots Association is warning that terrorists are practicing dry runs under the eyes of federal marshals to carry out a mega-terror attack, and a one marshal told a Florida media outlet that the Transportation Security Administration is “lying” when it says it takes all reports of suspicious activity aboard aircraft seriously.

Two recent incidents have spiked fears that terrorists boarded flights to test their ability to stage another 9/11, and in one case, a pilot’s insistence not to fly before a thorough inspection of the plane resulted in discovering “evidence of tampering.”

The pilots’ memo from last month has been circulated and states that on a flight on the Orlando, Florida-Washington route, one “Middle Eastern” man leaped up from his seat towards the flight deck door and then made a sharp turn to head for the bathroom, where he remained “for a considerable length of time.”

At the same time, three other men with similar Middle Eastern features began changing seats, opening overhead compartments and generally “making a scene,” possibly with the intention of distracting flight attendants.

Tampa, Florida’s WTSP channel said the airline, US Airways, and the Transportation Security Administration confirmed the incident. The station reported that the FSA “takes all reports of suspicious activity aboard aircraft seriously, and the matter requires no further investigation at this time. “

However, a flight marshal, who obviously could not reveal his name, told WTSP that TSA claims that they investigate every case and take all of them seriously are lies. “They’re liars. They’re flat out liars,” he said. He explained that federal officials are hiding the truth there are problems with investigations of terror.

Industry “insiders” were reported as saying, “We’re waiting for the next 9/11 to happen, because it’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”

Investigators concluded that the incident on the Washington-Orlando flight was not a dry run and that there was no evidence of a threat.

However, after the plane landed in Orlando, the pilot refused to fly the plane again without a thorough inspection, despite US Airways officials insisting that it was not necessary. The pilot won the argument, and according to the pilots’ memo, “Guess what? Evidence of tampering was found.”

The second incident that worries the pilots occurred when several Middle Eastern women boarded a flight  while dressed head-to-foot in Muslim clothing including the veil. One passenger, who reportedly was a “significant VIP,” decided to forego flying on the plane when he discovered there were no air marshals on board.

The pilots said they accepted TSA  findings that the women were not terrorists carrying out a dry run.

Have a nice flight.

El Al Grounds Flights to Eilat Again, Fears Missile Attacks

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

El Al announced it will halt all daytime flights to Eilat starting Thursday, two weeks after resuming flights based on an understanding with government aviation officials that a solution would be found to a new landing path that El Al considers too dangerous to use.

Terrorist attacks from the neighboring Sinai Peninsula have occasionally targeted Eilat with missiles, and El Al stated Tuesday, “We will not compromise the safety of our passengers. The new flight path to Eilat does not offer the proper safety level for civil aviation.”

El Al said it will continue its nighttime flight and will provide bus service to daytime passengers or refund their money for tickets already bought.

El Al suspended and then resumed flights to El Al two earlier this month after the Civil Aviation Authority allowed the airline to use the regular landing paths while a study was carried out on the new path.

Aviation officials have not changed the route, and El Al is standing by its position, although other airlines are using the new landing path.

TSA and Customs Issue Etrog Travel Advisories

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. authorities released travel guidelines for Sukkot.

“TSA’s screening procedures do not prohibit the carrying of the four plants used during Sukkot – a palm branch, myrtle twigs, willow twigs, and a citron – in airports, through or security checkpoints, or on airplanes,” the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement, noting the dates of this year’s Sukkot holiday, from Sept. 18-25.

The TSA notice said, however, that all passengers undergo security screening at checkpoints.

In a separate statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection also noted that the four species were allowed entry, but noted a number of restrictions subject to inspection.

“Travelers will be asked to open the container with the ethrog and unwrap it,” its advisory stated. “The agriculture specialist will inspect the ethrog. If either insect stings or pests are found, the ethrog will be prohibited from entering the United States. If neither is found, the traveler will be allowed to rewrap and re-box the ethrog for entry into the United States.”

Twigs of willow from Europe are banned, it continued, and any sign of pests or disease will mean confiscation of the product.
In a press statement noting the allowances, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who directs American Friends of Lubavitch, also urged observant Jews to cooperate with airline staff and authorities, for instance when praying aboard aircraft.

“Particularly, one should let flight attendants know if they will be davening in flight BEFORE they begin, and understand the implications, as well as potential prosecution, for ignoring requests to sit down when requested, etc.,” said Shemtov, who consulted with Rabbi Abba Cohen, the director of the Washington office for Agudath Israel of America, in setting out the guidelines. “For example, flight attendants do not usually understand ‘nu,’ ‘uh,’ and hand signals, etc. especially when you are already in tallis and tefillin.”

Shemtov told JTA that religious Jews should appreciate the efforts of travel authorities to facilitate their travel.

“We in the Jewish community are fortunate to live with an unprecedented level of personal liberty,” he said. “I hope everyone will appreciate that cooperation with authorities that are so sympathetic to our traditions is the least we can do in return.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/u-s-authorities-issue-sukkot-and-etrog-advisories/2013/09/15/

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