Since the fall of 2000, tensions and violence have been high in Israel and the Occupied Territories. In 2006, the second Lebanon War brought katyusha rocket fire to areas near the excavation (as close as 4-6 miles). As a result, students were evacuated and sent home. Nevertheless, the site for the Hippos Excavation is removed from population centers and has not experienced any direct conflict. It is within the 1948 borders of Israel. It is one of the safer places in Israel primarily due to its remoteness.
Security is a serious concern for Concordia. After the 2006 evacuation, students, parents, and adult volunteers gave Concordia high marks for its handling of the crisis. Concordia continues to upgrade its plans and procedures in order to keep students and volunteers safe.
In view of security concerns, we will not stay overnight in the Old City of Jerusalem this year. Rather, we will plan a day trip with an alternative site.
The project director registers the team with the US Embassy and is on their notification list for issues of security. News and security announcements are monitored regularly. The director is available by cell phone to family of participants 24 hours a day. The director reserves the right to make any changes to the program in order to assure the reasonable security of participants.
Any of the following circumstances will mandate evacuation of all students:
- Hostilities flare up with inaccurate rocket fire or shelling striking near the Sea of Galilee or in the southern Golan.
- Military forces of another nation enter northern Israel and begin to hold land.
- Weapons of mass destruction are employed or their use is a significant probability.
- Other unexpected circumstances deemed by the program director to mandate evacuation.
The form of the evacuation will be determined by circumstances on the ground. Public transit will not be used. Evacuation may be to another location in Israel, or out of Israel by air, or to a third country (Jordan) if safe exit by air from Israel is not possible. If safe travel within Israel is not possible, participants may be restricted to Kibbutz Ein Gev and/or its bomb shelters.
Those who consider participating in the Northeast Church Project at Hippos should view the latest news from Haaretz or the Jerusalem Post. Further, participants should be familiar with the travel documents from the US State Department. Particular attention should be given to the latest warning about travel to Israel.