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.
A female Palestinian protester from the University of Birzeit, covers her face as smoke rises behind her during clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators in support of prisoners on hunger strike, outside Israel’s Ofer prison, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, on April 26, 2012. There are 4,699 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, of whom 319 are in administrative detention, according to Prisoners’ Club figures.
[Credit : Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images]
A demonstrator confronts a riot policeman during a protest against the government of President Sebastian Pinera in Santiago, Chile on April 25. Chilean students have been protesting against the government demanding changes in the public state education system.
[Credit : Martin Bernetti / AFP / Getty Images]
An anti-government protester looks on from inside his tent at Taghyeer (Change) Square, where protesters have been camping for more than a year, to demand regime change in Sanaa, Yemen, April 23, 2012.
[Credit : Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]
A female mourner looks back as she participates in the funeral procession of Salah Abbas Habib in the district of al-Bilad al-Qadeem in the capital Manama April 23, 2012. The Bahraini protester found dead on a rooftop after clashes with police during the Formula One Grand Prix at the weekend apparently was killed by birdshot rounds and his body bore several bruises, his brother said on Monday.
[Credit : Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]
A woman runs along a road during an air strike by the Sudanese air force in Rubkona on April 23, 2012. Sudanese warplanes carried out air strikes on South Sudan on Monday, killing three people near a southern oil town, residents and military officials said, three days after South Sudan pulled out of a disputed oil field. A Reuters reporter at the scene, outside the oil town of Bentiu, said he saw a fighter aircraft drop two bombs near a river bridge between Bentiu and the neighboring town of Rubkona.
[Credit : Goran Tomasevic / Reuters]
A man rides a bicycle past a wall with anti-Formula One graffiti in a village in Diraz, west of Manama early April 22, 2012. Formula One drivers race in Bahrain on Sunday while rage boils on the streets outside, among protesters who denounce the Grand Prix as a gaudy spectacle by a ruling family that crushed Arab Spring demonstrations last year.
[Credit : Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]
An anti-government protester flashes a victory sign in front of riot police during an anti-government rally demanding the release of human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, in Manama, Bahrain, April 18, 2012. Police used sound grenades to dispersed dozens of protesters who were demanding the release of Al-Khawaja, who is on a hunger strike, and against the government hosting the upcoming Formula One race.
[Credit : Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters]
A demonstrator with the Occupy Wall Street movement puts up a sign in front of a statue of George Washington on the steps of Federal Hall, across the street from the New York Stock Exchange in New York April 17, 2012.
[Credit : Eric Thayer/Reuters]
Palestinian children take part in a rally in front of Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, April 17, 2012. 1,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a hunger strike Tuesday, Reuters reports. Israel’s prisons authority said in a written statement that a further 2,300 Palestinian prisoners said they would reject their daily meal in support of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.
[Credit : Suhaib Salem / Reuters]