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10 things to know before visiting Israel, the West Bank and Gaza

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The Holy Land makes for inspiring, fascinating, confusing travel. To some, the chunk of territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is all Israel. To others, it's all Palestine. For most -- as is true so often in this region of shifting truths and manipulated historical narratives -- it's a bit of both.

1. For beaches, it's Red, Med or Dead
Israel is hemmed in by sea. The Red Sea is popular for beaches, snorkeling and diving.
Eilat has snorkeling and beach activities on the Red Sea side. Rosh HaNikra has stunning cliffs on the Mediterranean Sea side. At the Dead Sea you can float away at Ein Bokek, where the salty waters of this inland lake effortlessly support your body.

2. Identity is complicated
Onlookers frequently cast the conflict here as simply between Jews and Arabs.
Axe-grinders on both sides like to evoke an enduring death-struggle between Muslims and Jews.
But for long stretches of history, no such struggle existed. In truth, the problems …