|Tensions in Israel-July 31, 2014|
July 31, 2014
IFSA-Butler has been closely monitoring the developments of Operation Protective Edge since its inception at the beginning of July. We rely on a combination of reports from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, along with U.S. State Department updates and reports from our privately contracted intelligence agency, Max Security Solutions in Tel Aviv. Additionally, we have been in frequent contact with study abroad colleagues around the U.S. who are currently discussing their plans for study abroad programming in Israel for the fall 2014 semester, as well as Rothberg International School (RIS) administration at Hebrew University.
At this time, IFSA-Butler's study abroad program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem will continue as planned. We feel confident that IFSA-Butler students will be able to study and live a normal student life in Jerusalem at Hebrew University during the fall semester. The RIS and IFSA-Butler staff spend a lengthy amount of time orienting students to safety and security precautions. Even though IFSA-Butler did not have students in Jerusalem for the summer term, RIS staff kept IFSA-Butler informed of how they were proceeding with their summer programs and 350 students participating on those programs. According to Mr. Jonathan Kaplan, Acting Vice Provost of RIS, RIS provided additional safety and security meetings, as well as emergency drills, for students once Operation Protective Edge began. Excursions and trips around Israel continued with a revised itinerary, and students finished their summer courses and several decided to stay for the fall semester.
Additionally, the Hebrew University campus is very secure. As a closed campus, only students, staff and invited guests are able to enter the campus, and everyone must show proper identification and go through a security screening. All buildings have a safe room or a designated area where students can go should an air raid siren go off. The Student Village housing complex is as equally secure, and all flats have a designated safe room where students can seek shelter if needed.
Once the students arrive in Israel, they will complete a program orientation with IFSA-Butler staff which will cover many topics, including how to stay safe and what to do in case of emergency. Students will then participate in an orientation at RIS, where the same topics will be reiterated to the students. If a student at any time feels uncomfortable or unsure of what to do, he or she may contact either an IFSA-Butler or RIS staff member at any time. During orientation, students are given emergency contact information for all staff, whom can be reached around the clock. IFSA-Butler also has a detailed evacuation plan and assistance company for our program in Israel should the situation worsen and it is determined that students should leave the country.
IFSA-Butler will continue to closely monitor the situation in Israel, and we will maintain close contact with RIS staff, IFSA-Butler students, and all organizations listed above in order to maintain a complete picture of events happening on the ground. We will provide updates through the semester as needed. Please feel free to contact us at any time with questions or concerns.