Australian pilgrims' plans are upset by violence
Australians have cancelled tickets or taken alternative tours because of the current violence in Israel but some pilgrims, despite advice from tour organisers to defer their visit, are continuing with their plans.
"Whether it is safe or not, some people who have saved and planned their whole lives for this pilgrimage are prepared to face the challenge as it comes," Selina Hasham of Harvest Pilgrimages in Sydney told the newspaper New Zealand Catholic.
She said pilgrims go to the Holy Land for different reasons than those of tourists, and for some it may be to pray for peace.
"Some pilgrimage groups have been diverted from visiting the holy sites of Jerusalem to visiting those in Rome," she said. "We would never send people unwillingly or unwittingly into unsafe areas."
Travel agents in Israel have suggested that because parts of the Holy Land are unsafe people should defer their visit until the violence calms down. But for those who are adamant to go, her company offers them the tour guides and means to get there, said Ms Hasham.