SAFETY AND SECURITY
There is a high threat from Palestinian terrorism in Israel. Since the start of the second Intifada (Palestinian uprising) in September 2000, there have been numerous and frequent terrorist attacks in Israel, including Jerusalem, for which Palestinian terrorist organisations including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade have claimed responsibility. Suicide bomb and other attacks have targeted crowded public areas and public transport, resulting in over 1000 deaths and many serious injuries. These incidents have also been in areas frequented by tourists. You should be aware of the risk of being caught up in further attacks. Three British nationals have been killed in Israel in terrorist attacks since September 2000 (other British nationals have been killed in the Occupied Territories – see below).
We strongly advise you to maintain a high level of vigilance, especially in public places, including bars and restaurants, and avoid public transport and any political gatherings and/or demonstrations. You should take sensible precautions (see “Security and General Tips
” pages on the FCO website for further information and guidance) for your personal and vehicle safety. You should ensure in advance that you are familiar with contact details for the emergency services as well as any contingency plans prepared by them for the general public. These are available on: http://www.idf.il/homefront/english/ie-welcome.stm
You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets including places frequented by foreigners. Please read our “Security and General Tips
” and “Risk of Terrorism when Travelling Overseas
” pages for further information and guidance.
We strongly advise you to avoid travel to the immediate area of Israel’s border fence with Lebanon (the "Blue Line") as there have been cross-border exchanges of fire between the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and Hizbollah militia. There is also danger of anti-aircraft fire in this area, including the risk of falling shrapnel; and there has been at least one fatal attack on civilian vehicles there.
You should also avoid travelling close to the Israeli side of the Israel/Gaza Strip border because of the risk of stray shots, sniper fire or mortars.
There have been two shooting incidents at border crossings between Israel and Jordan. In May 2004, a Jordanian policeman fired on four Israelis returning to Israel at the Allenby Bridge Crossing, east of Jerusalem. In November 2003, a gunman, with no known terrorist links, opened fire at the Arava Crossing, north of Eilat, killing one foreign tourist and wounding five others. You should take care at crossing points between Israel and Jordan.
There has been a higher proportion of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem than in Israel. These attacks have taken place in a variety of locations around the city and in areas frequented by tourists. Foreign nationals have not been targeted, but many have been killed and injured.
We strongly advise you to maintain a high level of vigilance when travelling anywhere in Jerusalem, and to follow local advice.
We advise against all travel to Nablus, Jenin and the Gaza Strip outside Gaza City. We strongly advise against all travel to the West Bank and Gaza Strip at night.
We advise against all but essential travel to Gaza City, and most of the West Bank.
Over 3,000 people have been killed in clashes with the IDF and in terrorist attacks claimed by Palestinian rejectionist organisations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since September 2000. The security situation is very poor, and frequently changes. In July 2004, there was a kidnapping involving four French nationals in the Gaza Strip, and another involving British, American and Irish nationals in Nablus, all of whom were later released unharmed. A Canadian diplomatic car was hit by gunfire in Khan Younis , in the Gaza Strip, on 9 August 2004. As law and order continues to deteriorate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, there is a risk of further kidnappings and attacks.
The West Bank’s main towns have been subject to periodic military closure or to curfew by the IDF, often at short notice and for extended periods. In these circumstances movement in and out for anyone, including foreign nationals and diplomats is very difficult, if not impossible. In the event of closures or curfews there is no guarantee we can evacuate you if you are stranded.
Movement in and out of and around the West Bank is extremely difficult and dangerous. There is frequent military activity across the Gaza Strip, including complete closure, preventing all travel in or out. In areas of heightened tension anyone in the vicinity, including unarmed civilians, is at a greatly increased risk of being killed or injured.
Since the start of the second Intifada in September 2000, six British nationals have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, three as a result of encounters with the IDF and three in terrorist attacks.
Travel within the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not possible without passing through multiple Israeli military checkpoints. These checkpoints are flash points for violent incidents and have been the scene of several fatal attacks. Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip have also been the scene of violent clashes and terrorist incidents.
Some parts of the West Bank are less affected by military and terrorist activity than others. The Jordan Valley is generally safe, although there have been infrequent attacks on Israeli cars there since September 2000. Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah are generally safe, but you should seek local advice before travelling to these areas as you run the risk of getting caught up in military activity. Since June 2003, there has been a lower level of IDF incursions into these towns than in the rest of the West Bank. If you travel to these areas, you should remain vigilant, take all necessary steps to protect your safety and make sure you have confidence in your individual security arrangements.
There is also a risk that the IDF will detain you if you are in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an overseas visitor. You may face considerable delays on entering and departing the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Most visits to Israel are crime-free. You should keep your personal belongings in a safe place. The theft of passports, credit cards and valuables from public beaches is commonplace. If travelling on your own and not in a group, be particularly careful to keep wallets, money and valuables out of sight.
Crime is generally not a problem in the Occupied Territories, but you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.
Developments in the region could affect the security situation. You should follow news reports and check the FCO website regularly for updated advice.
Driving in Israel is erratic and there are frequent accidents. Radar speed traps operate on roads within Israel and fines for speeding are high. It is not safe to hitchhike in Israel. If you are 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.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
You should ensure that you comply with customs regulations. 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. Tax may be levied on items sent to visitors already in Israel.
You should carry identification at all times because foreigners are required to show some form of identify if requested by the local authorities. When travelling within Israel it is permissible to carry photocopies of the date and entry stamp pages of passports to avoid losing the original. Passports may be required when crossing between Israel and the Occupied Territories and when entering Jerusalem. Passports and immigration slips must be produced when crossing into or out of the Gaza Strip.
You are advised to take heed of any official advice given about movement into and within the West Bank or Gaza Strip.
The penalties for smuggling and trafficking in illegal drugs are severe. Those caught in possession can expect a prison sentence and deportation.
Israel is a country in which a number of religions and cultures mix. People feel strongly about their beliefs and customs. You should be aware of this at all times. For example, it is not wise to go into Jewish ultra-orthodox areas of Jerusalem on Shabbat (Saturday). Also, you should dress modestly in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
You should be sensitive about taking pictures of people in Muslim and Orthodox Jewish areas and you should take care not to take photographs of military or police personnel or installations.
You should expect lengthy personal questioning and baggage searches by security officials on arrival and departure from Israel. Electrical items may be taken from departing passengers for security inspection and returned to them in the UK. Damage may occur.
Entry to the Occupied Territories is controlled by the Israeli authorities and the following advice therefore applies equally to Israel and the Occupied Territories. Visitors to Israel and/or the Occupied Territories holding passports with less than six months validity may be turned away by airlines and ferries, and can be refused entry by the Israeli border authorities. You may also be detained on your arrival in Israel if you are intending to go to the Occupied Territories. You may subsequently be deported from Israel.
The Israeli Ministry of the Interior insists that Israeli or Palestinian citizens holding dual nationality must enter and leave Israel on their Israeli or Palestinian passport. 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.
You should keep the slip of paper given by Immigration in a safe place, as you will need to produce it on your departure.
Working in Israel without the proper authority can result in detention followed by deportation, a process that might take several months.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Israeli Embassy in London.
If you intend visiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip, contrary to FCO advice, you should be aware that Israeli immigration and/or security authorities question at length British and other foreign nationals entering Israel en route there before being admitted, denied entry or deported. Those who have visited Palestinian Authority areas should expect the same treatment on departure.
Access into the Gaza Strip for anyone not holding a diplomatic passport and visa is limited. For further advice, please contact the British Consulate-General in Jerusalem.
If you cannot avoid travel to the West Bank or Gaza Strip, you should obtain further information from the British Consulate-General in Jerusalem before you travel. You should review your security arrangements regularly. If you are a British national of Palestinian origin (on the Palestinian Population Register or holding Palestinian ID number), you will need a Palestinian passport/travel document in order to leave.
West Bank and Gaza Strip resident British/Palestinian dual nationals are only permitted to travel abroad via the Rafah or Allenby Bridge border crossings into Egypt or Jordan. If you hold dual nationality and are planning to travel abroad, you should contact the British Consulate-General in Jerusalem before attempting to do so.
British/Palestinian dual nationals travelling to the Occupied Territories are subject to complex travel restrictions by the Israeli authorities. Please contact the British Consulate-General in Jerusalem for advice before you travel.
Healthcare in Israel is not free and any form of medical treatment can be expensive. We strongly recommend that comprehensive travel and medical insurance is obtained before travelling. Hospitals will insist on payment and may take legal action to delay departure until bills are met.
For further information on health, check the Department of Health's website at: www.dh.gov.uk
As well as full insurance cover for medical treatment and accidents, you should have cover for unexpected losses such as cancelled flights, stolen cash, credit cards, passport or luggage. You should be aware that most insurance companies will refuse to cover you if, contrary to FCO advice, you go to those areas to which we recommend you do not travel, and some insurance companies may refuse to cover any travel to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
You should ensure that you carry sufficient funds for your immediate use. Additional cash can be obtained from cash points (ATMs) in Israel and Jerusalem using internationally accepted credit cards. But there are fewer in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Paper currency issued by Scottish banks cannot be exchanged in Israel. Money transfer through Western Union to a local Israeli post office usually takes 3 to 4 hours during normal working hours. Post offices and banks in Israel and Jerusalem close from midday Friday to Sunday morning. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip they are usually just closed on Fridays.
British nationals in Israel and the Occupied Territories are strongly advised to register with and to follow local advice issued by the British Embassy Tel Aviv (see below) or the British Consulate-General in Jerusalem, 19 Nashashibi Street, Sheikh Jarrah Qarter, PO Box 19690 East Jerusalem 97200; tel: 972 2 541 4100; E:mail: Britain.Jerusalem@fco.gov.uk
. Office Hours (GMT): (September to March) Monday to Thursday: 05:30 to 13:30; Friday: 05:30 to 11:30; (April to September): Monday to Thursday: 06:30 to 14:30; Friday 06:30 to 12:30.