Military tourism in Israel

It was only a matter of time before local entrepreneurs figured out they could channel Israel’s vast experience in war and counterterrorism in this direction. Today, about half a dozen facilities around the country offer tourists the opportunity to learn from Israeli combat officers, in most cases graduates of elite units. (Understanding that they have nothing to sell the locals because military service is compulsory in Israel, these businesses only target tourists.)

At Caliber 3, the two-hour “shooting adventure” – for which the group from Hong Kong has signed up – includes a simulation of a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem marketplace, immediately followed by a stabbing attack, a live demonstration with attack dogs and a sniper tournament. The cost of this basic package is $115 per adult and $85 per child, with discounts available for large groups.

Sharon Gat, the founder and CEO, estimates that between 15,000 and 25,000 tourists visit his facility each year. The overwhelming majority are American Jews, many of them families visiting Israel for a bar mitzvah and other celebrations. But growing numbers in recent years have been coming from Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy, Russia and especially China on work-related trips and religious pilgrimages. …

If foreigners won’t come to Israel, then we’ll take our IDF experience and share it with them abroad. That’s the motto of Cherev Gidon, an Israeli military training school based in the United States with branches around the country. On its website, Cherev Gidon boasts that its specialization is Israeli tactical shooting techniques “developed over the course of several decades of counter-terrorism warfare, and uniquely designed to address the threats we face today.”

Anti-terror Fantasy Camps Are Popping Up Throughout Israel and the West Bank – and Tourists Are Eating It Up