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Mideast Crisis Prompts Israel to Shut Down 58 Tourist Sites

June 24, 2002|Reuters

JERUSALEM — A desert fortress where Jewish rebels fought the Romans and the gravesite of Israel's first prime minister are among 58 Israeli tourist sites to be closed this week because of the Middle East crisis.

"We are ceasing operations as a result of the security situation and the resulting dearth of tourism, which has meant an 80% drop in admission receipts," a spokesman for Israel's Nature Reserves and Parks Authority said Sunday.

The 58 nature and antiquities sites will be shut down by week's end and left unguarded, he said.

These include the 1st century hilltop fortress of Masada and the gravesite of David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister.

The nature and parks authority's revenue has fallen $16 million this year, the spokesman said.

Unlike last year, the government would not defray the costs, he said.

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