In the heart of the West Bank, a rather unconventional tourist attraction has garnered both fascination and criticism. Caliber 3, located near the Israeli settlement of Efrat, began its journey in 2003 as a training camp for professional security personnel, including police. However, over the years, it has evolved into an intriguing destination for tourists seeking an immersive experience in Israeli anti-terrorism methods.

The scene unfolds with approximately 20 Jewish tourists from South America standing in the West Bank landscape. Their faces are a mix of excitement and anticipation as they prepare to participate in an “anti-terrorism” course led by former Israeli soldiers. The tourists shout “fire, fire, fire” and discharge automatic weapons, but their targets are not human; they are balloons nearby.

Eitan Cohen, one of the instructors, addresses the group, making it clear that the purpose of the training is not merely to teach marksmanship. Instead, he emphasizes that its primary objective is to help visitors understand the complex reality of Israel’s ongoing struggle against terrorism. The tourists have come here to gain insights, not just to learn how to shoot.

Counter-Terror Training at Caliber 3 in Israel

Caliber 3 offers an unusual option for visitors exploring Jerusalem’s holy sites or relaxing by the Dead Sea. For a little over $100, tourists can engage in a two-hour program that includes firearm training, paintball games, and instruction in Krav Maga, a self-defense method developed by the Israeli military.

One of the programs immerses tourists in a simulated “terrorist attack” within a mock market, complete with plastic fruits and wooden stalls. Instructors, some of them disguised, reenact the scenario. Suddenly, tourists are instructed to get on the ground, and an assailant with a knife is stopped. The lesson is clear: always be alert in a crowd.

The instructors exude an aura of military expertise, with one resembling a character out of an action movie: donning fatigues, sunglasses perched on his forehead, a rifle slung over his shoulder, and a pistol on his belt. According to Caliber 3’s website, he is a former sniper and a member of elite police units. He speaks passionately to the tourists about the values of Israeli soldiers and their approach to combating terrorism.

Among the tourists is Dan Cohen, who traveled from Venezuela with his family to visit Israel. They decided to add this unique training experience to their itinerary. While his children enjoy a nearby paintball game, Dan and his wife, Lili, listen attentively to the instructor before trying to handle automatic weapons and aiming at balloons affixed to a target. Dan remarks that their initial expectations were quite different, as they had come to learn how to shoot and respond to a terrorist situation, should one ever arise. However, what they truly gained from the experience was an understanding of the complexity and rapid decision-making required in such situations.