Israel Tour organisers promise safe passage

By Marcus Dysch, July 10, 2014

Israel tour organisations in the UK have moved to reassure parents that their teenage children will be safe despite the escalating violence.

UJIA Israel Experience, which co-ordinates tours for more than 1,200 young Jews from movements including Bnei Akiva, FZY, Habonim Dror, RSY-Netzer and Noam, said it was in regular contact with parents and was giving the situation its full attention.

Rocket attacks launched on Israel by Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza increased throughout the week. The Iron Dome missile system shot down the majority of rockets, and no serious injuries had been reported in Israel by Wednesday afternoon.

There are already 270 British tour participants in Israel, making up eight of the 24 groups due there this summer. The remaining 1,240 students are due to depart this month.

David Goldberg, UJIA communications director, said: "There is a well-established and robust infrastructure supporting all aspects of Israel tour, honed over decades of experience.

"All activities are subject to daily approval by Cheder Matsav, Israel's situation room, and the itineraries for each group are amended if necessary."

He said tour leaders had received extensive security training before taking the students abroad.

Emunah, which works with Israeli children in schools, care homes and counselling centres, said it was taking on more staff at a centre in Sderot, close to the Gaza border.

British Emunah launched an emergency appeal on Tuesday. Director Deborah Nathan said: "Emunah's vital services are stretched to cope and to give the children and families in Israel the support they need at this difficult time."

Bnei Akiva's British branch led calls for the head of the global youth movement to be sacked after he demanded revenge for the murder of three Israeli teenagers. Rabbi Noam Perel, World Bnei Akiva general secretary, made the incendiary comments following the discovery of the bodies of Gilad Sha'ar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach last week.

He wrote on Facebook that the Israeli army should "take the foreskins of 300 Palestinians" in retribution. The comment was a reference to the biblical retribution King David took against the Philistines.

BA officials were due to meet on Wednesday to discuss his future, but no decision had been announced as the JC went to press. British students threatened to pull out of the global group if disciplinary action was not taken against Rabbi Perel.

Last updated: 3:55pm, July 10 2014