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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 12:16 GMT
Settlers offer West Bank 'terror tours'
Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers in Hebron
Tourists will be taken to West Bank hotspots
Jewish settlers are offering special "terror tours" of the West Bank and Gaza, in which tourists will be trained to fire weapons and participate in mock fights with Arab militants.

The four-day excursion will include aerial tours of "terrorist" enclaves and a chance to sit in the cockpit of a fighter-plane capable of delivering nuclear bombs.

"There's a lot of the 'wow' factor, like going up in an army helicopter and firing machine guns," organiser Jake Greenwald told BBC News Online, "but it is also aimed at training people in how to deal with a terrorist situation".

Mr Greenwald said it was also a way of attracting thrill-seekers to Israel at a time when tourism is suffering because of the violence with the Palestinians.

Fear factor

US-born Mr Greenwald said he got the idea after seeing how people coped with the 11 September, 2001, attacks on the United States.

ITINERARY
Weapons training
Tracking 'terrorists' in desert
Aerial tour of 'terrorist enclaves'
Experience of F-16 bombers and tanks
Paintball attack on 'Arab village'
"I realised that Israel, which has great expertise in dealing with terror, will be able to teach people how to deal with fear, so there is not this mass panic when something happens," he said.

He said that while people might think the tour was "a bit strange", there was a serious message in teaching "teamwork in the face of an emergency".

He said so far more than 20 people - including a judge, doctors, and a Middle East lecturer - have signed up from the United States, at a cost of $5,500 each.

Tracking 'terrorists'

For the participants, daily activities begin with what Mr Greenwald called "light exercises" in hand-to-hand combat.

Tourists will also be taught how to fire a range of weapons, including M16s, Uzis, pistols and Kalashnikov machine guns, and learn how to operate a tank.

There will be talks by Israelis who took part in Israel's military offensive in Jenin last April, and lessons in how to track "terrorists" across the desert.

Participants will be taken on a helicopter tour of Palestinian "terrorist enclaves" and be shown arms and suicide bomber belts seized by the Israeli army.

The highlight of the trip involves a paintball fight in a simulated Arab village, where participants will be able to go from room-to-room "cleaning out Arab terrorists", said Mr Greenwald.

The tours were meant to start at the end of this month, but have been postponed because of the prospect of a war with Iraq.


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