President Obama’s helicopter was grounded in Israel due to a sandstorm that made it unsafe to make a trip to Palestine-controller Bethlehem.
The grounded helicopter came on the same day that Obama took a tour of Mt. Hertzl and visited Israel’s museum to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem. It was later in the day that strong winds kicked up sand and grounded Obama’s helicopter.
Obama was still able to ditch the presidential helicopter and make the roughly 30-minute drive to Bethlehem, though it was not easy. The president’s motorcade was up to 30 cars long and wound through Jerusalem’s streets, going slowly over hilly roads and stopping at an Israeli checkpoint.
The trip also caused Obama to travel through Israel’s border with the occupied West Bank, a controversial area. Palestinians see the barrier as a land grab, while Israeli officials said the network of fences block attacks from the Palestinian side.
When he finally reached Bethlehem, Obama toured the Church of the Nativity, built on a cave where it is believe that Jesus was born.
Obama’s grounded helicopter was not the only transportation problem that Obama has had during his trip to Israel. His limo, nicknamed “The Beast,” broke down earlier in the trip when it was filled with gasoline instead of diesel.
“One of our vehicles is experiencing mechanical problems,” said Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan. “This is why we bring multiple vehicles and a mechanic on trips.”
Obama’s limo broke down shortly after his arrival to Israel in what was his first visit to the county since being re-elected. The trip included a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Obama’s grounded helicopter did not delay the rest of his Middle Eastern trip. On Friday the president moved on to Jordan, where here was schedule to meet with King Abdullah II on the last leg of his trip to the region.