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In Tel Aviv we noticed lots of soldiers in uniform on the streets and on the highways at bus stops. Many of these young people were probably going home at the end of the day or for the weekend, but there are definitely many male and female soldiers with weapons. Many of these soldiers carry rifles. About 20 percent seemed to be armed. The bullet clips were not in the weapon but usually taped to the butt of the weapon, where it could easily be loaded into the weapon.These armed soldiers traveling from place to place should not be confused with armed male and female soldiers or police officers in market places or on street corners of commercial streets where there are often lots of pedestrians or shoppers. When touring we noticed groups of soldiers visiting the historic sites with a number of them armed. Even civilian youth groups had a few armed members or guards with them. One gets used to seeing armed people with groups of soldiers or youth groups.We, too, have armed soldiers in New York City. In the commercial promenade in the Grand Central Station and under Madison Square Garden at 34th Street there are always armed soldiers often with NYPD officers. However, there do not seem to be as many as we saw in Israel.In Israel every handbag and package carried by a person entering a store or mall is subject to examination. We do not do this. What we do is to check the identification of all people entering office buildings and schools. Of course, we do check bags when people leave stores, but this is probably done to prevent thievery more than to prevent terrorism.While visiting the holy city of Zefat, in northern Israel, we encountered a group of Israeli soldiers touring the sites. Our guide explained to us that the government sends soldiers to historic sites so they get to know their country's history and understand what they are in the army for and what they may have to fight for. A week later we saw large groups of soldiers also visiting the Holocaust Memorial on a Sunday. Our guide told us that soldiers often visit this site as a gathering place prior to returning to their base after a weekend off.On Good Friday our tour group was able to see Jewish residents visiting the Western Wall prior to their Saturday holiday, buses full of Muslims going to the Dome of the Rock to pray and Christian pilgrims visiting various churches for Good Friday services. Traffic was very heavy that day.The tour we were on consisted mostly of Canadians. When we mentioned that we were saving soap and shampoo to send to a soldier who is stationed in Iraq, to give him and his buddies a touch of home, several people gave us their excess hotel toiletries. This was a nice gesture to us. All in all, we had a very pleasant and interesting visit to the Holy Land.Good and bad news of the weekIt seems that the city Department of Highways has made part of the Clearview Expressway more a bottleneck when they fixed it a few years ago. Going north on the Clearview Expressway the "engineers" really fixed the last exit prior to the Throggs Neck Bridge. This is Exit 7 at Willets Point.Prior to the fix there used to be two lanes which could turn left under the Throggs Neck Bridge and a few blocks later hook up to the Cross Island Parkway going west. Instead of making this exit a little wider they narrowed it to one lane so cars back up often to the expressway making people wait for two or three lights. In the past I was able to be in the second lane and move easily through this area. The fix is worse than the original situation.They also should have built some overpasses so vehicles could hook up to and from the Cross Island and the Clearview instead of crowding onto city streets. If feasible, this could eliminate bottlenecks.
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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