Are Israelis really worried that they'll be hit by Syria in retaliation?
August 28, 2013 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Israeli (or Israel-located) responses only, please. :) I'm flying to Israel this coming Sunday morning for a week-long vacation with my wife. The current plan is 1 day Jerusalem, 1 day Ramallah, 4 relaxing days on the beach in Tel Aviv. Now I'm trying to figure out whether I'll be flying into a war zone.

In America, there are a lot of headlines right now suggesting that Israelis are bracing for an imminent onslaught:

Is this actually the mood on the street, or just a silly media storm? Are average Israelis bracing for imminent attack, or is Tel Aviv going to keep on keepin' on as it usually does? Am I foolish to still plan on coming to Israel?

I research foreign policy for a living, so I'm not really interested in armchair quarterbacking from outside Israel on what Syria might or might not do... I get that in spades at the office. I want to know what the sense of Israelis is regarding whether or not they feel like they're going to be in danger in the coming days.

posted by Televangelist to Travel & Transportation around Israel (7 answers total)
Best answer: Check out Ha'aretz and the Jerusalem Post for English-language stories (that's what I do.) This article indicates that they're not doing a full IDF reserve call-up, which is encouraging to put it mildly.

Unfortunately, every organization I'm familiar with that brings students to the Middle East, including Israel, has had it all on an indefinite hold for over a year now, so I can't use them as a proxy. Same with Department of State travel alerts.
posted by SMPA at 5:32 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Oh, and don't bother with the JPost user comments - I doubt even 10% of the ones on these kinds of stories come from Israel.)
posted by SMPA at 5:35 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It looks like AskMeFi broke my question -- I had a link in there to a Washington Post story about Israelis stocking up on gas masks.

I appreciate the advice, SMPA. Do you know if there was a full reserve call-up when Israel bombed Syria's nuclear facilities a few years back? Presumably a strike by the US would be less likely to provoke an attack on Israel than a direct strike by the Israelis...
posted by Televangelist at 6:05 PM on August 28, 2013

The government of Canada has this advisory for Canadians traveling the region.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 6:46 PM on August 28, 2013

Best answer: Re: the IDF calling up reserves - they have a tendency to, e.g., call up a brigade here or there with some regularity (remembering that a hefty chunk of the able-bodied adult population is by definition a reservist.)

I believe the last time they did a big call-up was during the Lebanon War (seven years ago.) Even then it was only a force in the tens of thousands (there was one bunch of 15,000 all at once, well into the "actually fighting and dying" bit.) The Ha'aretz article I linked to before says this call-up is in the hundreds. I need to go to bed so I'm afraid I can't hunt down a time more relevant/recent than the Yom Kippur War as far as a "total" call-up is concerned - that's the one where the Syrians and Egyptians goofed by thinking the reserve call-ups would be harder due to the holiday, as they would be in, e.g., the US or Russia or China. I feel like I'm missing something really obvious in the back of my mind, but when I think of the IDF reserves 1973 is sort of like the Vegas Strip in terms of getting my attention.

To me the key factors are always: have they officially called for everyone to get gas masks (right now the distribution spots are open, but the government hasn't told everyone specifically to go get them, and the lines don't seem massive to me) and have they called up lots of reservists. However, these things are also much more likely to happen if someone screws around right by the border.

They do the gas masks thing a lot more readily than the reserves bit though - I think the first time I was actually aware of Israel as a physical country where human beings live was scenes on CNN of them distributing and people wearing the danged gas masks, probably during the Gulf War (the one where Wolf Blitzer was on the beach all "check it out, they're invading right now, live, directly behind me!!!") So as long as they're not doing that, things can't possibly be that bad.
posted by SMPA at 9:00 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just moved here from the US a few weeks ago (living in Tel Aviv), and I don't think it feels like people are "bracing for an onslaught". Most people are very business as usual, and you wouldn't notice anything if you were at the beach, mall, etc. I haven't even picked up my gas mask yet.
posted by The Monk Bought Lunch at 11:51 PM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

An Israeli friend has just flown home to visit her parents and yesterday, before she left, she was quite concerned that Israel, particularly the Gaza Strip, will be attacked. Her parents are in the north so she is mildly concerned for her and her parents' safety. Only mildly, and she wouldn't have postponed or cancelled her trip because of it. She has said previously that living there you are always alert anyway so this is not really any different.
posted by tracicle at 8:55 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

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