Beyond the beautiful history in the city, Jerusalem (and Israel) have a turbulent current situation. The Israeli and Palestinian populations are in a constant state of conflict. At times this conflict is an under riding tension, while other times the tension explodes into clashes. Upon arrival I was immediately taken aback by the constant military presence. I found it incredibly unnerving to encounter military personnel carrying automatic weapons while on simple retail outings in the city. I never expected it to turn into something.
Then news happened. Earlier in the month 3 Israeli teens were kidnapped on the West Bank, yesterday their bodies were found. The last few weeks the Israeli Defense Forces have been conducting raids on the West Bank, resulting in several hundred arrests and 5 Palestinian deaths. Hours after the report of the bodies discovered, a revenge murder of an Arab teen occurred late last night. There have been several clashes reported in the last 24 hours, some have been violent, some have not. Public transportation has either been canceled or greatly diminished.
Honestly I’m not sure of the likelihood of any immediate danger to me or the family I’m staying with. We’ve been sent notices to stay close to home, and avoid demonstrations and specific locations in the city. I knew there was some risk in coming to this part of the world, but I honestly never thought that risk would be so relevant. After talking to a few Israeli’s, situations this tense aren’t anything new, and is unfortunately part of life here. Walking home from the grocery store this evening, the streets were still full of families, and the playground full of kids.
Having grown up in a middle class American town, I’ve never actually felt an actual fear for my safety beyond walking home alone late at night and hoping I didn’t get pick-pocketed. Receiving a Red Alert Security Notice from the US consulate has been deeply unsettling. Although I don’t worry about the case of an actual event, I’ve been in a state of stress all day. I could be blowing the severity of the situation out of proportion, American’s tend to do that. Hopefully I am. Suddenly the minutia of my personal problems have been put into perspective, from a graceful slap of reality.
Here’s a couple articles with more information from various sides on the current situation: