Hundreds of thousands of Israelis descended upon the country’s top outdoors spots early Sunday, leaving little room for the latecomers to partake in the fun.
A little more than 24 hours after completing the Seder on Friday night, tens of thousands of Israelis settled on the beaches of the Sea of the Galilee, filling them to capacity and forcing local authorities to deny entrance to newcomers.
Israel’s popular nature parks were also packed.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority reported that some 50,000 hikers were enjoying the trails at Ein Gedi, Caesarea National Park, the Tzukim Nature Reserve, the Eshkol National Park and the Gan HaShlosha National Park.
The Jewish National Fund, which administers many of the country’s forests, warned vacation-goers to be cautious of where they light fires and passed around plastic bags for cleaning up camp spots.
Facing unseasonably warm temperatures, the JNF reported, many Israelis took to shade-filled forests, including Biriya Forest, Ein Zeitim, Goren Park in the Western Galilee, Gilboa and Ramot Menashe.
Typically for a holiday season, rescue teams were called into action on several occasions to extract hikers from danger.
One group of hikers without sufficient water wandered too far off the trail near Alexandrium — a fortress near the Jordan Valley that dates back to the ancient Greek period — and were extracted by a rescue squad, the Israel Police reported.
Vacationers avoid terror-stuck Jerusalem
While Israelis were enjoying their country’s beaches and nature trails, relatively few were visiting Jerusalem’s Old City, with many people saying they’re afraid to travel to the capital because of months of terror attacks.
“There are [foreign] tourists and also a few tourists, but everyone’s afraid,” one jewelry shop owner told Channel 2.
“I was afraid to come. My sister said I was crazy but if we are afraid we’d never leave home at all,” Esti, an Israeli tourist visiting Jerusalem, told the TV station. “It’s dangerous everywhere but there’s nothing that can be done. It’s also dangerous in the Sinai and there are people who still go there.”