Tourists flock to Israel despite regional unrest

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to As neighboring Syria’s bloody civil war rages on and terrorists attempt to infiltrate Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, nearly 300,000 tourists arrived in the Jewish state in July, a record for the month and an 8-percent increase over the previous July, according to the Israeli Tourism Ministry.

The tourism boom also comes just as a newly released U.S. National Intelligence Estimate report revealed that Iran has made “substantial and surprising” progress in attaching a nuclear warhead to ballistic missiles, Israeli officials said. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the report “transforms the Iranian situation into an even more urgent one,” but U.S. National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor disputed this, saying the U.S. intelligence assessment of Iran's nuclear activities had not changed.

U.S. officials are urging Israel not to attack Iran for fear that such a move could start a regional war. However, Former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit told Channel 2’s “Meet the Press” that “at hand is [Israel’s] own fate, [its] own existence; I’m not letting [anybody else] take care of this issue for me.”

“The U.S. can live with a nuclear Iran,” he said.

Nevertheless, the tourism boom is not a fluke for Israel: The tourism ministry says each month of 2012 so far has set an all-time record for that month. 

Posted on August 13, 2012 .