The Holy Land faced a summer of war, only recently refrained, but BYU continues to send students abroad to the BYU Jerusalem Center.
Militant groups, such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, posed threats to Jerusalem for almost two months, until Israel and Palestine leaders agreed to halt fighting indefinitely. According to a Vice News report, during this most recent conflict there have been more than 2,000 killed, 10,000 injured and 50,000 destroyed homes.
Other universities, like Michigan State, cut their summer programs as early as three days after arrival. BYU programs, however remained open all summer and continue into the fall. BYU Jerusalem’s security page reported two “incidents” just more than a month ago.
These updates include a Palestinian murder and an overturned bus one mile from the BYU Center. Another incident reported an Israeli soldier shot at a bus stop just a quarter of a mile from the center.
What does this mean for BYU students traveling far from home to a nation of instability and turmoil? The Jerusalem Center is prepared for the worst.
AJ Gubernick, a BYU Jerusalem student studying public health, recently returned from overseas. He experienced the emergency bomb shelters.
“There are two bunkers with five- to six-foot-thick walls. Within each room there are air filters, bathrooms, even ping pong and foosball tables,” Gubernick said.
Josh Gill, a Russian major who returned from Jerusalem this summer, discussed his feelings on security. “There wasn’t a time where I felt seriously threatened or in danger. The first time we went in the bomb shelter was a bit intense, because we had no idea what to expect. Other than that I felt very safe, even in the city walking the streets,” he said.
BYU students arrived at the Jerusalem Center approximately one week ago and have reported feeling safe. No emergency lockdowns have occurred thus far in the fall semester.