Journeys to the Holy Land and the Current Conflict | Craig Travel

Journeys to the Holy Land and the Current Conflict

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Once again the world is watching Israel and Gaza. It seems that every day there is a new truce and every day one side or the other breaks it and the horror of war resumes. The conflict has been going on for over a month and while each day brings a renewed hope for lasting ceasefire (peace regretfully is a word that we simply can not use at the moment), we can only hope that calmer heads prevail. As I write this, the Israelis are pulling back their land forces, the tunnels have been closed and both sides have agreed to another three day truce which for the moment is holding. We hope and pray that this ceasefire holds.

This is a conflict that has been going on for decades; some would say centuries. Indeed, this region of the world has seen more conflicts than possibly any other region in the world – Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Arabs, Christian, Jews to mention a few. Recent history and the importance of religion have shown us that conflicts are inevitable, and yet the region survives. Indeed, prior to this recent outbreak, Israel has seen the highest levels of tourism and pilgrims in its short history. The region has been inundated with demand from overseas visitors.

Since the last incursion by the Israelis into Gaza in 2008, Israel has tried to keep Hamas under very tight control, imposing a strict embargo against most potentially harmful trade and activities. Yet, as we can all see, this has not worked. The Palestinians, while deprived of most goods from overseas, have managed to develop a potent armory of missiles and armaments which they have used with relatively little success against the Israelis. The cities of Israel have had very little damage while Gaza appears to be all but levelled in many areas, with an alarming toll of death and injury. All the same, the Israelis will feel the results of this conflict, economically. The boom in tourism will end for some time, and the Israeli economy will suffer. If nothing else this will be a factor to help end the current conflict.

It is our hope and belief that the conflict will be short lived and that the Israelis will shortly find a temporary solution/resolution that will allow both sides to save face. What both sides must realize is that the conflict is a “No Win” situation – both from a humanitarian point of view and from an economic perspective. It may well be the latter perspective that helps to bring about a resolution. In truth and in our opinion, Israel will benefit if they allow the doors to Gaza to open, to remove the horrible embargo that is starving the people and to provide an economic stimulus that will provide a measure of hope and promise to the people in that region.

In the meantime, we are being asked what to do about future plans to travel into the region. We want to assure you of a number of realities, moving forward and advise that your patience will be rewarded. Our suppliers are assuring us that normal penalties and restrictions are being waived or extended until we can see the outcome of the current crisis more clearly.  We strongly feel that keeping the situation in perspective and waiting to see what unfolds over the next weeks or even months is needed.

We rely on several sources when considering our alternatives and the safety of any destination. We are in daily contact with our operators and friends in Israel; we pay close attention to news emanating from the Israeli and Palestinian governments and we watch the travel warnings and bulletins issued by the government of Canada and other major powers. These advisories are directly related to political and conflict situations in Israel. These sources are most important in determining which areas are safe, where we should take special precautions and which regions should be avoided. Currently the Canadian government advises all visitors to Israel to use a high degree of caution and to avoid all travel to a number of regions (including Gaza). Should these advisories change, we will review the situation and proceed accordingly. Please rest assured that we will not jeopardize the safety of our clients by travelling to this, or any other region, if there are any indications from official sources that it is unsafe to do so.

For the moment, we urge patience while the two sides attempt to negotiate a ceasefire and to resolve this unfortunate conflict. While we hope that the current situation will not continue or escalate, we need to wait and see before any decisions are made. We sincerely hope that the two sides with the help of outside forces, will find a way to stop the conflict and resume negotiations towards a peaceful settlement. For now, we do feel that you can continue to make your plans.

While we are always reviewing this destination and watching developments, we will not make a full commitment to any program into this region until 90 days prior to departure. After that date, if the destination is considered unsafe by any Canadian government authority, we will cancel the program. If we cancel the program, we will do all possible to ensure the full recovery of your funds. If for any reason we are unable to recover all funds directly, we will assist you in claiming any loses through insurance coverage (the premium for the insurance would not be refundable). If you are arranging your own travel insurance, please ensure that it provides coverage in case of a Travel Advisory issued by government authorities.