Can I visit Gaza while in Israel? Well, almost!

Many visitors to Israel are curious as to how close Gaza actually is to Israel, and especially to cities like Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Once they find out how close it really is (yes, only 75km from Tel Aviv!), some are even interested in visiting Gaza City; when I first arrived in Israel many moons ago I know I was intrigued by the Gaza that the BBC had spoon-fed me whenever there was a spot of bother in this neck of the woods…

I never did make it (I was invited to a Gaza feast by a local Gazan who worked in the hostel I was staying and working, but he got blocked from entering Israel for some reason and I never saw him again), but these days visiting Gaza is still the same hot issue it always has been. You won’t find day trips “to the Strip” at any Tel Aviv travel agent, that’s for sure. Officially, Israel and most western nations forbid their citizens from entering Gaza: for example, hop on over to the website for the U.S. Department of State to see what they have to say.

So, what’s a traveler genuinely interested in visiting Gaza to do? Well, thanks to the organization You Are Not Here (YANH), a “platform for urban tourism”, you can now experience Gaza via a virtual audio tour. Just visit their site, download a free map, which has Tel Aviv on one side and Gaza on the other, and then go visit the marked sites in Tel Aviv. Once there, you can dial a free number to hear a description of the corresponding site in Gaza.

You Are Not Here is a great little project devised by Israeli Mushon Zer-Aviv, who first launched the project with a New York-Baghdad version back in 2006. He joined forces with Gaza journalist Laila el-Haddad to develop this Tel Aviv-Gaza project.

The idea behind the project is to give tourists and Israelis a taste of life in Gaza, and to fight the perception of violence that is inevitably connected with Gaza. Some of the audio isn’t exactly pro-Israel, but hey, this is the Middle East…

We say give it a try if you’re interested in hearing more about real life in Gaza. This is as close as you’re going to get…

Click here for some great audio samples of the tour (in English).

×