Summer camp, warfare style: Like a frozen turkey plunged into boiling oil, a group of American tourists descend from an air-conditioned van into the scorching heat of the West Bank. Flashing smiles all around, they march into Caliber 3, a local shooting range.
“Move it!” the Israeli guide suddenly yells. “Destroy that ,” he orders them, and they charge, guns loaded, at cardboard targets.
Gush Etzion has become a hot destination in recent months for tourists seeking an Israeli experience like no other: The opportunity to pretend-shoot a terror operative. Residents of the nearby settlements, who run the site, offer day-trippers a chance to hear stories from the battleground, watch a simulated assassination of terrorists by guards, and fire weapons 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 (above), 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.”
The word used for terrorist in Hebrew is “Mechabel” (mechablim for terrorists). In Israeli discourse this is a synonym for Palestinian.