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Latest travel advice for Israel including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-03-14T12:09:48.505+00:00: Latest update: Summary – removal of advice and information on the closure of the West Bank and Gaza during the Purim holiday

This travel advice covers Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

The Israeli Parliament passed a law on 6 March 2017, which gives authority to deny entry to foreign nationals who have publicly called for a boycott of Israel and/or settlements, or who belong to an organisation which has called for a boycott. You should contact the Israeli embassy for further information. See Entry Requirements.

The security situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories can be fast moving, tense and unpredictable. You should be vigilant at all times and keep up to date with local media and travel reports.

In Israel and the West Bank, including Tel Aviv, East Jerusalem and the Old City (particularly the Damascus Gate area) and Hebron, there have been numerous violent clashes between protestors and security forces and stabbing, shooting, arson, vehicle ramming and stone throwing attacks on people and vehicles. These types of incidents also happen along Route 60 within the West Bank (the main road connecting Jerusalem with Nablus and Hebron) and along Route 443 between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There’s a risk that tourists or bystanders could be caught up in any incident.

Be especially vigilant and take great care at the Qalandiya checkpoint between East Jerusalem and Ramallah, in areas close to refugee camps, in and around Israeli settlements and in the cities of Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah. There have also been several violent incidents in the northern West Bank area (north of Tappuah). Individuals carrying weapons have been arrested in Nablus.

There’s a risk of increased tension around Jewish high holidays (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succoth) and after Friday prayers and on religious holidays. Demonstrations and other forms of civil unrest can occur at short notice and often turn violent. See Safety and security.

There have been a number of violent incidents on public transport and near public transport lines in Jerusalem, including the Light Rail network. You should avoid travel on the Light Rail north of Ammunition Hill and be vigilant if you use Ammunition Hill station itself. You should avoid using buses in Jerusalem.

Take extra care when using public transport in Tel Aviv, in particular at transport hubs, and when using buses in the greater Tel Aviv area. You may wish to consider using other forms of transport.

Rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel on a number of occasions in 2016. Further rocket fire is possible and you should familiarise yourself with the safety actions that you should take in the event of a warning siren.

The security situation on the border with Egypt remains volatile. Take extra care and be vigilant when using Route 10 which runs along the Israeli border with Egypt and is subject to closures by the Israeli authorities. You may wish to consider using other routes.

In northern Israel there have been an increased number of incidents of accidental or deliberate artillery, rocket or mortar fire from Syria into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Take care when travelling in areas of the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights.

Visa and other entry requirements are complex. Make sure you’re aware of Israeli immigration policies before you travel. Allow extra time for increased security measures and checks at airports during Israeli holidays and during the peak summer tourist season. See Entry Requirements

There is a high threat from terrorism. See Terrorism

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

This travel advice covers Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

You should keep up to date with local travel advice via local news outlets and international outlets like the Access Coordination Unit

Jerusalem

There are frequent demonstrations in many of the areas of the city visited by tourists including in and around the Old City, especially after Friday prayers. Some of these protests have led to violent clashes. Stay alert at all times in the Old City and leave the area if there is evidence of tension or unrest (for example if the shops in the souks suddenly begin to close their shutters). The entrances to the Old City may be subject to checks or closures.

Isolated street protests and demonstrations can also occur in East Jerusalem.

Gaza

The FCO advise against all travel to Gaza (including the waters off Gaza).

You should not approach the perimeter fence surrounding the Gaza Strip.

The FCO is not able to support individuals applying for entry or exit permits for Gaza. If you decide to visit Gaza against FCO advice, you will need to contact the relevant Israeli authorities well in advance. If your entry to Gaza is via the Rafah crossing, you will need to contact the relevant Egyptian authorities in advance. The FCO is no longer able to provide administrative support for UK charities wishing to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing.

The Rafah border with Egypt regularly closes with no warning and for long periods of time. At these times it may be impossible to enter or leave Gaza. The FCO can no longer offer routine consular assistance in Gaza. If you travel to Gaza you should review your security arrangements regularly and make sure you know what to do if you hear a warning siren.

The FCO recognise the need for major international organisations to carry out humanitarian and reconstruction work and to engage in independent reporting and verification of the situation on the ground in Gaza. Medical and other essential specialist staff should co-ordinate their entry to and exit from Gaza with those organisations.

Don’t attempt to enter Gaza by sea, including via a flotilla. The Israeli Navy routinely patrol the area and have made clear that they will prevent any vessels attempting to breach the restrictions. You will be detained and deported, and your electronic equipment is likely to be confiscated. The FCO does not believe that humanitarian supplies should be delivered in this way. Anyone wishing to send humanitarian assistance or other goods to Gaza should do so through established channels.

In 2010 Israeli forces boarded a ship bound for Gaza. Nine foreign nationals were killed and many more injured.

Occupied Golan Heights

The FCO advise against all travel to the east of Route 98 along the Syrian border.

Rocket attacks and sporadic gunfire have occurred in northern Israel without warning since 2012. There has been an increase in the number of accidental or deliberate artillery, rocket and mortar fire from Syria. On several occasions the Israeli authorities closed parts of Route 98 due to the increase in fighting on the Syrian side of the border, especially by the Quneitra border crossing, which has been seized by Syrian rebel groups. If you’re travelling in the area, follow advice from local law enforcement.

West Bank

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to 10km either side of Route 60 south of Gush Etzion Junction, including the city of Hebron in the southern West Bank following numerous security incidents in the area. There have been several violent incidents in the northern West Bank area (north of Tappuah) including throwing of stones and other objects on Route 60. There have been arrests of individuals carrying weapons in Nablus. You should be especially vigilant in this region.

The Israeli authorities sometimes restrict movement in and out of the West Bank, either on Jewish High Holidays or as a result of a security incident. This doesn’t normally affect foreign nationals, but would affect dual Palestinian-British nationals. Road closures can occur with little notice. You should keep up to date with local travel updates.

Expect road closures and numerous checkpoints across the West Bank. Travel in and out of the West Bank is not possible without passing through at least one Israeli military checkpoint. You will need a passport and immigration slip to go through these checkpoints.

The cities of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho see large numbers of tourists including on organised tours and there have been no recent reports of any serious incidents involving foreigners. However, you should take care when travelling anywhere in the West Bank. Demonstrations and violent incidents can occur without warning particularly in areas close to refugee camps across the West Bank and in the cities of Jenin, Nablus and Hebron. You should avoid all demonstrations or large gatherings, including student protests.

Israelis living in the illegal settlements in the West Bank occasionally organise demonstrations in the West Bank which sometimes turn violent. Take particular care if you are near any of these settlements, including those in the hills around Nablus and in the South Hebron hills. There is a closed military zone in the H2 area of Hebron (around Ash-Shuhada Street and the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs), where there is a risk of a hostile reaction from members of extremist groups.

There are also regular demonstrations against the route of the separation barrier in various locations including the villages of Bil’in, Ni’lin, Nabi Saleh, Jayyous, and Al Mas’ara. These frequently turn violent. It is extremely dangerous to attend these demonstrations.

Due to restrictions on travel, the ability of the FCO to provide consular assistance in the West Bank may be limited.

Crime

Most visits to Israel and the OPTs are trouble-free, but the theft of passports, credit cards, and valuables from public beaches is common. Keep your personal belongings in a safe place.

Crime is generally not a problem in Israel and the OPTs, but you should take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.

Passport security

A Serious Organised Crime Agency investigation into the misuse of UK passports in the murder of Mahmud al-Mabhuh in Dubai in January 2010 found circumstantial evidence of Israeli involvement in the fraudulent use of British passports. This has raised the possibility that your passport details could be captured for improper uses while your passport is out of your control. The risk applies in particular to passports without biometric security features. Only hand your passport over to others (including Israeli officials) when absolutely necessary.

Road travel

Driving is erratic and there are frequent accidents. Radar speed traps operate on roads within Israel, and fines for speeding are high.

If you intend to drive in the West Bank, check that you are insured before setting out. It may be easier to arrange West Bank insurance at a hire company in East Jerusalem than from the major hire car companies in Israel.

It isn’t safe to hitchhike in Israel.

If you’re travelling to the desert, go with others, take a supply of water and a mobile phone, and let someone know your itinerary and expected time of return.

Terrorism

This travel advice covers Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners, and on public transport.

Heightened tensions, brought about by rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, increase the risk of retaliatory terrorist attacks in Israel. British nationals are encouraged to remain vigilant at all times.

On 8 January 2017, a vehicle ramming attack on the Armon Hanatziv promenade in Jerusalem killed and injured numerous people.

In January and June 2016 there were firearms attacks in central Tel Aviv killing and injuring bystanders. In October 2016 there was a fatal shooting attack at the Ammunition Hill light rail station in Jerusalem. In April 2016 an explosive device was detonated on a bus in South Jerusalem injuring passengers and bystanders. In December 2013 a device exploded on a bus in Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv. A police officer was lightly wounded.

There is a threat of rockets being fired into Israeli territory by extremists in the Gaza Strip and Egypt and a threat of rocket attacks, artillery or small arms fire along the border areas with Lebanon and Syria.

Be vigilant, monitor media reports and keep up to date with travel advice. Make sure you are familiar with contact details for the emergency services (in Israel - dial 100; in the West Bank and Gaza - dial 101).

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Kidnap

There is a risk of kidnap in Gaza and along the border with Egypt. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

This travel advice covers Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

You should dress modestly in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

Local residents in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods can react strongly to anyone (particularly women) dressed inappropriately. Women should not wear trousers.

Avoid driving into ultra-Orthodox Jewish areas of Jerusalem on Shabbat (from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday). If you attempt to drive into these areas local residents may stone your car.

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset are forbidden for Muslims (though not for children under the age of 8). Although alcohol will be available in some hotels and restaurants, drinking alcohol elsewhere may cause offence. As a courtesy, you should avoid drinking, eating, and smoking in public places in the OPTs during Ramadan.

In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June. See Travelling during Ramadan

Be sensitive about taking pictures of people in Muslim and Orthodox Jewish areas. Don’t take photographs of military or police personnel or installations.

Carry identification with you at all times. (eg a photocopy of the personal details and entry stamp pages of your passport).

The penalties for smuggling and trafficking in illegal drugs are severe. Those caught in possession can expect a prison sentence.

Israel is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). If you are caught breaking local laws on import and export of wild animals you can expect to receive a substantial fine and up to 2 years in prison. For more information on the regulations and laws in Israel please refer to the Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection website.

Entry requirements

This travel advice covers Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

You don’t need a visa to enter Israel as a tourist. On entry, visitors are granted leave to enter for a period of up to 3 months. Visitors entering via Ben Gurion airport are given an entry card instead of an entry stamp in their passport. While this practice is in place at other ports of entry, there have been instances where passports have been stamped for entry purposes. You should keep your entry card with your passport until you leave. This is evidence of your legal entry into Israel and may be required, particularly at any crossing points into the Occupied Palestinian Territories. If you’re refused entry into Israel, your passport may be stamped with an entry stamp and two red lines drawn across it to indicate the refusal.

It is for the Israeli authorities to determine the right of entry into Israel, if you have any particular concerns about visas or entry into Israel, you should contact the Israeli Embassy in London. If you work in Israel without the proper authority, you can be detained and then deported, a process which could take several months. Consular staff will not be able to help you enter Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They are unable get involved in another country’s immigration policy or procedures.

At the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan, as well as at Ben Gurion Airport, Israeli border officials have on occasions used an entry stamp for certain travellers that states ‘Palestinian Authority only’ or ‘Judea and Samaria only’. Since travellers entering via the Allenby Bridge crossing must pass through Israeli checkpoints and Israeli-controlled territory to reach Jerusalem or Gaza, this restriction effectively limits travellers who receive this stamp. It is not clear how a traveller receiving the stamp at Ben Gurion Airport can leave the airport without violating the restriction. This stamp has been issued to travellers who have no Palestinian or other Arab ancestry, and who would not seem to have any claim to a Palestinian Authority ID.

Israeli border officials at Ben Gurion Airport have also at times required certain travellers to sign a form that states that he/she is not allowed to enter territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority unless he/she obtains advance authorisation from the Israeli ‘Territory Actions Co-ordinator’, and that violating this restriction may result in the traveller being deported from Israel and barred from entry for up to 10 years.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories unless the holder is a returning resident. However, ETDs are accepted for airside transit and exit from Israel.

Previous travel to other countries

Evidence of a previous visit to another country in the region like an entry/exit stamp in your passport does not normally prevent entry into Israel, although it may lead to additional questioning at the border. It is for the Israeli authorities to determine the right of entry into Israel, so if you have any particular concerns about previous travel to another country, you should contact the Israeli Embassy in London.

Customs and Immigration

You should expect lengthy personal questioning and baggage searches by security officials on arrival and departure from Israel. Electrical items, including laptops, may be taken from departing passengers for security inspection and either stored in the aircraft baggage hold, or returned to you in the UK. Damage may occur.

If you arrive with valuable personal items (computers, camcorders etc.) you may be required to pay a deposit that is refundable on or after departure.

Israeli security officials have on occasion requested access to travellers’ personal e-mail accounts or other social media accounts as a condition of entry.

Entering the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs)

Entry to the OPTs (including by sea to Gaza) is controlled by the Israeli authorities. You may be detained on arrival and deported if you are intending to enter Gaza without permission. If you’re entering the country for the purpose of working in the OPTs, you may be refused entry.

You must produce a passport and immigration slip, to cross between Israel and the OPTs.

For more information, contact the nearest Israeli Embassy.

British nationals of Palestinian origin

If you’re a British national of Palestinian origin (on the Palestinian Population Register or holding a Palestinian ID number), you will need a Palestinian passport or travel document in order to leave. If you are a British national with a Palestinian name or place of birth but without a Palestinian ID number, you may face problems. A number of British nationals of Palestinian origin or British nationals married to Palestinians have been refused entry to the country.

Dual nationals

British-Palestinian dual nationals living in the West Bank and Gaza are allowed to travel abroad only via the Rafah or Allenby Bridge border crossings into Egypt or Jordan and return via the same route.

Children with Israeli parents (father and/or mother) are considered to be Israeli nationals. The Israeli Ministry of Interior insists that these children enter and leave Israel on an Israeli passport.

Health

This travel advice covers Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Healthcare in Israel is not free and medical treatment can be expensive. Hospitals will insist on payment and may take legal action to delay departure until bills are met. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 101 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

Natural disasters

This travel advice covers Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

During extreme weather conditions roads can flood. Flash flooding is a risk, particularly in the Negev. Road users are advised to monitor local weather reports.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Money

This travel advice covers Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

There are ATMs in Israel and Jerusalem that accept international cards. There are fewer ATMs in the West Bank and Gaza. Scottish and Irish banknotes can’t be exchanged in Israel or the OPTs. Money transfer through Western Union to a local Israeli post office normally takes 3-4 hours during a normal working day. Post offices and banks in Israel and Jerusalem close from midday on Friday to Sunday morning. In the West Bank and Gaza they are usually just closed on Fridays.

Purchasing property

There are risks involved with purchasing property in Israeli settlements on land considered to be occupied under international law in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan. Potential purchasers should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase in these settlements. The FCO does not offer legal advice on or become involved in private property disputes.

Travel advice help and support

This travel advice covers Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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  • British Embassy Tel Aviv

    Title:British Embassy Tel Aviv, main contact
    Email:webmaster.telaviv@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British Embassy
    192 Hayarkon Street
    6340502 Tel Aviv
    Israel

    Contact: Telephone: +972 (0)3 725 1222
    Fax Political: +972 (0)3 725 1203
    Fax Consular: +972 (0)3 524 9176
    Fax International Trade: +972 (0)3 725 1218
    Fax Corporate Services: +972 (0)3 725 1208
    British Honorary Consul, Eilat: +972 (0)3 725 1222
    Visiting:If you are a British national in distress, and need to contact someone urgently whilst the embassy is closed, please call the FCO Switchboard in London on +44 (0)20 7008 1500 for assistance.

    This embassy does not deal with visa matters. For information on whether you need a visa to travel to the United Kingdom and how to apply, please see the UK Visas & Immigration https://www.gov.uk/visas-immigration page.
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Lost or Stolen Passports (Assistance Services)
    Births and Deaths registration service (Documentary Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)
  • Department for International Trade Israel

    Title:Department for International Trade Israel
    Email:uktisrael@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British Embassy
    192 Hayarkon Street
    6340502
    Israel

    Contact: Enquiries: +972 (0)3 725 1222
    Visiting:
    Services:
  • UK Science & Innovation Network in Israel

    Title:
    Email:
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    Contact:
    Visiting:
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