How to stay safe while hiking in Israel
By Eran Keremmer, Jerusalem Post Staff WriterWhile the majority of the world’s outdoor recreation areas have been shuttered in the wake of a deadly attack in France, Israel has remained open to the public in the aftermath of the recent wave of terror attacks in France.
The number of visitors to the country during the first half of 2017 is expected to be the highest since the war in Gaza began in 2008, with nearly 7.8 million visitors making the trek across the country in the period, the country’s tourism ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry’s daily tourism report, published Tuesday, showed that in the first eight months of 2017, an average of 3.1 million visitors visited Israel, an increase of 4.4 percent compared to the same period last year.
The total number of Israeli tourists reached 6.5 million, up by nearly 11 percent from the same time last year, it added.
In the past year, the number of people in Israel visiting the country doubled from 3.4 million in the previous year, to 5.2 million in 2017, while the number visiting France soared from 1.5 billion to 3.6 billion.
In recent weeks, the French government has issued new travel restrictions that will restrict visitors to Israel, and in April the French authorities issued a similar travel ban to visitors from the rest of the EU.
A number of French officials have voiced their opposition to the French restrictions, which were imposed on Wednesday following the deadly attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last month.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called the ban “unacceptable” and said the ban would only affect French citizens, and the French foreign ministry also called for the French public to be informed of the measures.
The French interior minister also called on the Parisian public to “act as a force to resist the attack.”
The new restrictions have been met with condemnation from French President Emmanuel Macron, who tweeted on Monday that France would never again be “a place where one can feel safe, or feel free.”
In a statement, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that France was “open to the whole world” and would continue to work together to “counter extremism and prevent its spread.”
Israel has also seen a surge in the number and number of tourists during the past few months.
During the first seven months of the year, an estimated 3.5 percent of the countrys population visited Israel.
In February, the ministry reported that a record 3.9 million visitors made the trip to Israel during the month of February, a 9.6 percent increase over the same month last year when 3.3 million visitors were on the road.