Palestine Risk Report
Security travel advice for Palestine
Threat level: High
The current travel safety advice for Palestine is to be cautious and vigilant when visiting the country due to the ongoing conflict in the area. There are travel advisories in place in the region. All travel to Gaza and including its waters is advised against due to the limited consular support available and the current political situation.
- Avoid all travel to Gaza Strip
- Avoid all travel border with Lebanon
- Avoid all travel to the border with Syria
- Avoid all travel to the border with Egypt
- Avoid all non-essential travel to West Bank
- Avoid all non-essential travel to the border with the Gaza Strip
- High degree of caution Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah
Recent Security Risk Events
Violence in the West Bank is almost exclusively between Palestinians and the Israeli Security Forces, occasionally there are attacks by settlers on Palestinians. This violence takes many forms but the most recently has seen young Palestinians, mainly children, both male and female attempting to stab members of the Israeli Security Forces and being shot in the West Bank. tt is therefore advisable to stay away from any points where Israelis and Palestinians can come into contact which most commonly includes settlements and check points.
Crossing points are areas to transit without delay. People in the cities of the West Bank welcome tourists – they see relatively few - however care needs to be taken in the aftermath of any attack which may cause Security Force action.
The one city to avoid, unless with a competent guide, is Hebron – even for the West Bank this is a city that is hugely difficult to understand with a patchwork of settlements, security force posts and possible areas of tension. For the more adventurous traveller it does however encapsulate the problems of an occupied territory all in one location.
There are routes and areas which should be avoided (as of June 2016):
- Route 98 (from Bar’on intersection to Alonei Habashan) due to the fighting along the Syrian border.
- Rafah border with Egypt regularly closes with no warning, it is advised that there is no attempt to travel to Gaza without proper authorisation, or to approach the perimeter fence on the Gaza Strip.
- Quneitra border crossing. Syrian rebel fighters have captured this area.
- Route 60 within the West Bank (between Jerusalem with Nablus and Hebron) needs to be used with caution there is some settler violence against passing traffic.
- Route 443 (between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) needs to be used with caution there is some settler violence against passing traffic.
The population of the West Bank, especially in Ramallah, are well travelled and tolerant however, it is best to dress modestly. Most women in the West Bank wear the Hijab with western dress – jeans, or trousers, but large numbers, and not just the Christian population, do not wear the Hijab. You will need to note that through Ramadan you should not eat, drink or smoke in public until after the Iftar meal in the evening, the time of this depends on when the month of Ramadan sits in the lunar year, but it is easy to spot, the restaurant and cafes immediately fill up.
Petty crime is known in the busier areas; please take normal precautions you would make visiting any other country. Due to the high unemployment rate in Palestine it is advised that a low profile is kept and no sign of affluence is shown.
Throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem it is possible that demonstrations can occur at any time – issues to do with the economy, unemployment, dissatisfaction with the Palestinian Authorities, protests against the occupation. Where these are local and away from Israeli Security Forces they are normally low key and not violent, but should be avoided. Demonstrations and riots in and around the refugee camps is also fairly frequent; family disputes, raids by the Israel Security Forces, protests about the economic conditions, arrests by the Palestinian Security Forces are the usual causes. Most large West Bank towns and cities have refugee camps and care should be taken when in the vicinity of these camps and entry into the refugee camps is not advised.
There is a high risk of kidnapping in the Gaza Strip, and as such suitable security precautions should be made and to be aware of your surroundings. Entry into the Gaza Strip and overnight stays should not be considered without the use of a trusted guide.
While the State of Palestine is recognised by over 80 countries, it is occupied by Israel. Central to the dispute is the status of Jerusalem; which is claimed by both the Palestinians and the Israelis as their capital, although it is currently entirely controlled by the Israelis.
In the West Bank the ongoing occupation is exacerbated by the stagnation of the peace process which started with the Oslo Accords, the continued building of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, disputes over water, farming and building rights, the West Bank Wall, a barrier between Israel and the West Bank, which does not follow the 1967 border (the basis of a future Palestine under Oslo) and the continued building of Israeli settlements. In Jerusalem the status of the Haram al Sheraf/Temple Mount (the site of the al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock) is a constant area of tension.
Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho are popular areas for tourists, however when in the West Bank you should take care and remain vigilant. Within Israel there have been attacks on the public transport system, normally at depots and stopping points, and it is advised that you do not use the public transport services in Jerusalem.
ID is required at all times and a passport will be required to move to and from the West Bank. Any travel into Gaza will require special permission from the Israeli government and, unless a diplomat, you will not be allowed to drive in. The only access out of the West Bank and Gaza is through Israeli check points into either Israel itself or via the Allenby Bridge into Jordan. If you have been in the West Bank (with the exception of Jericho and Bethlehem), and it comes to the attention of Israeli customs, on departure from Israel you can expect lengthy questioning and enhanced search.
Flash flooding has been known to occur especially in Negev, please monitor local media for weather related and other prominent events during your stay.
Currency: Egyptian pound, Israeli new shekel, Jordanian dinar
Time now in Ramallah:
Access to Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza is completely controlled by the Government of Israel. Holders of passports from the USA, Canada, Australia and the EU do not require a visa for stays less than 90 days. A passport is all that is required to enter the Palestine territories, please be aware that extensive checks can be made at checkpoints.
It is advised that visitors to Palestine are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus, which is usually administered when you are a young baby. You may also want to consider a Hepatitis A vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) has been noted in the region. The healthcare facilities are slowly improving in the area but treatment is still costly. You should ensure that you have sufficient travel and health insurance prior to departure.
U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem
18 Agron Street,
Telephone: +972 2622 7230
British Consulate General Jerusalem
Telephone: +972 2541 4100
Other useful info
Fire and Rescue Services: 102