Palestinian target practice for US tourists in the West Bank
Stay in a kibbutz, go out clubbing in Tel Aviv, say a prayer at the Western Wall and then go to a settlement to practice killing Palestinians.
This is the new summer camp for American tourists keen to get shooting at ‘terrorists’ in illegal settlements in the West Bank. At Gush Etzion, Israeli residents, who run activities, offer the chance to hear tales of ‘battles’, watch simulated assassinations and fire guns.
At the end of the thrill-filled day, tourists get a certificate to record that they "completed a basic shooting course in Israel."
"Suppose that the terrorist in front of me has an automatic weapon," Shay, one of the guides, told Ynet. "He can spray a cartridge within 2.8 seconds, which means I have less than three seconds to take him down. And that is what I will do."
The location of the course - over the green line and in Palestinian territory - is the main draw for the danger-seeking tourists. Although guides are clear that there is no actual threat.
Just outside the settlement, Palestinians who live in and around Bethlehem must go through checkpoints manned by IDF soldiers. The security presence means gun-toting tourists would be unlikely to meet a ‘terrorist’.
Conversely, attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians are on the increase. According to The Jerusalem Fund: “Israeli settler violence is growing and is a consistent threat to Palestinian livelihoods.” The attacks span from burning olive trees to breaking into Palestinian homes, carrying automatic weapons.
And it’s not just adult tourists who are taking part in the shooting practice course. According to an investigation by Ynet, children as young as five were allowed to shoot at the range:
Michel Brown, 40, a Miami banker, chose to take his wife and three children to the range with the purpose of "teaching them values."
Upon entering the range, his five-year-old daughter, Tamara, bursts into tears. A half hour later, she is holding a gun and shooting clay bullets like a pro.
"This is part of their education," Michel says as he proudly watches his daughter. "They should know where they come from and also feel some action."
What do you think about tourists going to shooting ranges in the West Bank? Tell us your thoughts below.
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