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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 December, 2003, 00:22 GMT
Meet the 'Terror Tourists'
By Tim Tate
Producer and director of Terror Tourists

Lisa Reed is nervous. Wearing only a light T-shirt and combat trousers she is on patrol through the deserted Arab streets of Hebron.

Jay Greenwald
We were in New York when the Twin Towers were hit and we saw that there was a real gap in people's knowledge about what to do in the event of a terrorist attack
Jay Greenwald
After an upsurge in shootings and suicide bombings the Israeli army has imposed a daytime curfew on Hebron's Palestinian population: today the streets are empty and eerily quiet.

Lisa is a part-time dental nurse from Newport News, Virginia. She has never been to Israel or the Palestinian territories before - much less been on an armed patrol of an Arab city under military curfew.

She is acutely aware that she has no body armour - no flak jacket or helmet - to protect her from Palestinian gunmen in the shuttered buildings, which surround her. At this moment she feels a very long way from home.

Lisa Reed is one of a unique new group of "Terror Tourists". She and four other American men have signed up for Operation Shiloh - an intensive five-day course in counter-terrorism run by Israeli entrepreneurs Yehoshua Mizrachi and Jay Greenwald in association with commandos from the country's Special Forces.

Knowledge gap

The aim is to equip ordinary American men and women with military survival skills in the event of a terrorist attack on their homes or neighbourhoods.

Primarily I want to know what I can do to protect myself and my family from a terrorist attack on my neighbourhood
Lisa Reed
"We set up Operation Shiloh in the wake of 11 September," says Mr Greenwald.

"We were in New York when the Twin Towers were hit and we saw that there was a real gap in people's knowledge about what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. And we figured that since Israel has been attacked since its birth, this is this best place for people to learn those skills."

The 11 September attacks have left a deep and intractable sense of personal fear in the minds of ordinary American citizens.

From the moment of its launch earlier this year, Operation Shiloh was inundated by applicants: ordinary men and women ready and willing to pay the $5,500 course fees.

 Jason Black (left) and Don Reed (right) practice hand-to-hand combat
Hand-to-hand combat is part of the training
"I'm your typical average American mum," says Lisa Reed. "I'm not involved with the police, I'm not involved with the military: I'm a Christian who supports Israel but primarily I want to know what I can do to protect myself and my family from a terrorist attack on my neighbourhood."

From the hundreds of initial applicants, Mr Mizrachi and Mr Greenwald selected a handful to take part in the inaugural course this summer.

Which is how Lisa Reed - together with her husband, Jeff, and his brother, Don, plus a successful Virginia Beach real estate broker and a former IT consultant from Colorado - found herself preparing for an armed patrol in the locked-down streets of Hebron.

Patrolling Hebron

Hebron is one of the most dangerous cities on earth. Located in the heart of the Palestinian territories - the hotly disputed land Israel is under intense international pressure to hand over to the Palestinians - it is the stronghold of Hamas, among the most violent of all Palestinian militant groups.

This year alone 30 people have died and 38 more been wounded on its streets.

Uzis on the range
Uzis on the range
Hebron's 150,000 population is predominantly Arab: just a few hundred Jewish settlers refuse to abandon their homes inside the ancient city walls.

Israeli soldiers on every street corner scour the streets and buildings from behind heavily fortified bunkers.

The participants in Operation Shiloh are to patrol its streets to give them - according to the course organisers - a sense of what life is like for the Jewish residents.

Both men live in nearby Jewish settlements threatened with destruction by the US-backed peace plan known as the roadmap: their political agenda dominates the entire course.

Throughout the five-day course, Lisa Reed and her fellow Terror Tourists will fire machine-guns, learn hand-to-hand combat and take part in mock attacks by Israeli commandos pretending to be Arab terrorists.

The Palestinian Authority condemns Operation Shiloh - but is powerless to stop it. And Mr Mizrachi and Mr Greenwald have deliberately constructed the course to protect the Terror Tourists from ever meeting a single real-life Palestinian.

Terror Tourists is broadcast on BBC Two at 2100 GMT on Sunday 7 December.

Israel and the Palestinians



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