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Post: Russian pilgrims are canceling Israel tours en masse, experts say


Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Archive photo

Experts report mass refusal of Russian pilgrims from tours to Israel

MOSCOW, October 11 – RIA Novosti. Interviewed experts told RIA Novosti that Russian pilgrims refuse tours to Israel largely for security reasons; He said that offers for reservations for the coming months were not popular, but that there were hopes for the resumption of pilgrimage by Christmas.

Bulk cancellations

The Ministry of Economic Development recommended that Russians avoid traveling to Israel for tourism purposes and tour operators suspend tour sales to this country until the situation normalizes. The Ministry reminded that, in accordance with the law, under current conditions, “Russian tourists have the legal right to request the termination of the contract for the sale of a tourism product or the change of its conditions.” Moreover, in case of termination of such an agreement before the start of the trip, “the tourist and (or) other customer will be refunded an amount of money equal to the total price of the tourist product, and after the start – a part of it. It is an amount proportional to the cost of the services not provided to the tourist.”

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“Among tour operators, 90% of pilgrims planning to visit the Holy Land in the near future have refused to travel. Even though October is the peak of the tourist season in Israel,” said Hieromonk Dometian, deputy head of the Russian Spiritual Mission (RDM). ) told RIA Novosti in Jerusalem.

The previous day, the delegation suspended the admission of pilgrimage groups until October 20 due to the uncertainty of the situation in Israel. According to Father Dometian, pilgrims come to RDM not only from Russia but from all over the world, and most of the Russian travel companies that organize pilgrimages to Israel cooperate with the mission.

Four major Russian travel companies were unable to offer RIA Novosti correspondent pilgrimage tours to the Holy Land for October; the next booking was to be made in November or later, with the warning that the situation would develop unpredictably. According to administrators, people are now demanding to be taken out of the country, and those who cannot get there are refusing their tickets.

Security questions

The Radonezh pilgrimage service, another large company that has been operating since 1989 and organizes tours to Israel, told RIA Novosti that until recently groups of believers from 20 to 50 people went to the Holy Land almost every week.

“This is approximate data for all operators and pilgrims from different countries of the Russian Orthodox Church. It can be said that pilgrimages to the Holy Land have reached pre-pandemic levels, thanks to the Church with its representative office in Israel. Yuri Minulin, general director of the Radonezh pilgrimage service, El Al and Red “Azimuth” as well as Wings airlines said.

He said people are now delaying bookings for safety reasons.

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“We see that the flow of pilgrims has stopped. There are offers to travel to Israel in the months of Christmas, March and April, and there is a general desire to go, but people are avoiding it for now for security reasons. Although it is not a holy place, Minulin is being bombarded. Jerusalem, excluding the outskirts, is more or less “It lives in peace. Bethlehem is periodically closed and opened. Areas near the Oak of Mamre are generally closed to visitors because Hebron is Palestinian Authority territory.” said Minulin.

Another problem, according to him, is that air traffic to Israel is “almost disorganized.”

“Airlines periodically cancel flights for security reasons, but Russian airlines act positively: they take out pilgrims who want to return home in difficult situations, they return money to those who refuse to travel against the background of these events, with or without a fine. – depending on how it is, there are no flights due to the ban,” explained the Radonezh general director.

Minulin added, however, that there is confidence that pilgrims will soon return to the Holy Land.

“This direction has fully justified itself, it will live and develop, but in a calmer state. I hope that the complete revival of the pilgrimage will occur by Christmas or the beginning of spring, unless military operations exceed optimistic feelings.” The interlocutor of the organization completed his words.

new exacerbation

On the morning of October 7, Israel was subjected to an unprecedented rocket attack from the Gaza Strip. Hamas fighters then entered border areas in southern Israel.

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Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement, announced Operation Al-Aqsa Mosque against Israel. The Israel Defense Forces announced the launch of Operation Iron Sword against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In his address to the nation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country was at war and that he had ordered a large-scale mobilization of reserves. The Israeli army is clearing settlements.

The number of deaths in Israel as a result of the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has exceeded 1,000, the Israeli Embassy in the United States announced on Tuesday. According to the latest figures of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the number of deaths in Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip has increased to 900.

Al-Qassam Brigades claimed to have captured dozens of Israeli soldiers. Hamas Politburo member Musa Abu Marzouk later reported that more than 100 Israeli citizens, including senior military officials, were captured and held in the Gaza Strip.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the bloodshed between Israel and Palestine should be stopped immediately and called on the parties to stop hostilities. According to him, the solution to the Palestine problem can only be possible on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions that foresee the coexistence of two states.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which is linked to the regional interests of the parties, has been a source of tension and strife in the region for decades. In 1947, the UN resolution, which assumed the active role of the USSR, determined the creation of two states (Israel and Palestine), but only the state of Israel was created. While Israel declared that it accepted the two-state principle, it did not completely liberate the Palestinian lands.

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Source: Ria

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