Anti-terror Fantasy Camps in Israel and West Bank

terrorist camp
Poster for the Caliber 3 counterterrorism and security training academy, Credit: Hagar Shezaf

11 July 2017 | Judy Maltz | Haaretz

“A two-hour simulation includes a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem marketplace, a stabbing attack, a live demonstration with attack dogs and a sniper tournament. ‘I wonder whether a Jew in Auschwitz could have dreamed that this would ever exist in Israel’

In real life they are accountants, bankers and business executives. Some have already reached retirement age. Today, these tourists from Hong Kong are pretending to be Israeli army commandos, specialists in counterterrorism.

As their Rambo-like trainer barks out orders, they move their assault rifles into position and, using the Hebrew word for fire, repeat after him: “Esh. Esh.”

As their Rambo-like trainer barks out orders, they move their assault rifles into position and, using the Hebrew word for fire, repeat after him: “Esh. Esh.”
“Louder,” he demands. “I can’t hear you guys. Don’t be so politically correct.”

“Esh. Esh,” they shout back, this time upping the volume.

By the time they’ve shot a few rounds of real bullets at their targets, they appear to be much less inhibited. In fact, they seem to be enjoying themselves.

“This place is a good attraction,” says Edmund Wong, a retired accountant, as he takes a short break to cool off. “A very good attraction.”

Located in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank, Caliber 3 is a counterterrorism and security training academy that in recent years has built on its expertise to create a new line of business: special programs for tourists seeking a taste of the Israeli military experience.

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Instructor teaching tourists from Hong Kong. Credit: Hagar Shezaf

It was only a matter of time before local entrepreneurs figured out they could channel Israel’s vast experience in war and counterterrorism in this direction. Today, about half a dozen facilities around the country offer tourists the opportunity to learn from Israeli combat officers, in most cases graduates of elite units. (Understanding that they have nothing to sell the locals because military service is compulsory in Israel, these businesses only target tourists.)
At Caliber 3, the two-hour “shooting adventure” – for which the group from Hong Kong has signed up – includes a simulation of a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem marketplace, immediately followed by a stabbing attack, a live demonstration with attack dogs and a sniper tournament. The cost of this basic package is $115 per adult and $85 per child, with discounts available for large groups.

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