Safety and security
If you're planning a trip to Israel and the Occupied Territories, we advise you to exercise extreme caution.
Since October 2015 renewed unrest has led to ongoing sporadic attacks, mainly in Jerusalem and in West Bank cities, but also in urban areas of Israel. These include stabbings, shootings, vehicular attacks, arson and stone throwing. Tensions and the possibility of further incidents remain high. Reaction to these attacks by Israeli security forces has been strong and in many instances has included the use of live fire.
There is a high risk of demonstrations and other forms of civil unrest, sometimes at short notice, particularly in the vicinity of Israeli settlements, Israeli military checkpoints (especially Qalandia and Bet El/DCO), refugee camps, in some areas of East Jerusalem, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, and in Hebron and the surrounding area. All demonstrations and public gatherings should be avoided. Restrictions on access are in place in a number of areas across the West Bank, and additional temporary restrictions may be put in place by the Israeli authorities with little notice. Visitors should be aware that sporadic incidences of violence occur frequently in the West Bank, but are not generally directed towards foreign nationals and visitors. While the cities of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho welcome large numbers of tourists with very few reported incidents affecting tourists, it is recommended that all non-essential travel within the West Bank is avoided and confined to daylight hours as much as possible. You should be especially vigilant after Friday prayers and on religious holidays
West Jerusalem and occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old City of Jerusalem, remain popular tourist destinations. It is recommended, for the moment, that the public transport system, which has seen a number of violent incidents, be avoided in favour of taxis or shuttle buses. Avoid travel on the light rail beyond Ammunition Hill as there have been regular violent incidents on that part of the route. Extreme caution is recommended when visiting the Old City and gathering or stopping in the areas around Damascus Gate, Lions Gate, the vicinity of Haram al Sharif (Temple Mount) and Al Wad Street should be avoided. Visitors should remain vigilant and should leave the area if there is evidence of tension or unrest.
While you are there
You should keep up to date with local media and travel reports. Also keep up to date with any developments that could lead to a likely outbreak of regional military conflict and make your travel plans accordingly.
We advise strongly against all travel to the Gaza Strip, where the situation remains very difficult. In the event that you encounter difficulties, any assistance that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or our Embassy in Tel Aviv may be able to provide is likely to be extremely limited. If you need consular assistance while in Gaza, you should be aware that due to Israeli requirements, diplomatic/consular staff are obliged to give five working days’ notice of an intention to visit the area. There is no guarantee that permission will be given even after complying with this time limit. In autumn 2017 an initiative to bring the administration of Gaza under the Palestinian Authority was launched. This complex transitional process is ongoing and the ability of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to intervene with local authorities and bodies on behalf of Irish citizens in Gaza remains extremely limited.
Essential services (water, electricity and health provision) in Gaza are very limited and travel within the area is very risky due to prevailing conditions, including poor roads and infrastructure and the possibility of crime and public order disturbances. The security situation remains uncertain.
Given the uncertain security situation in and around Gaza, and until a period of sustained calm is reached, we also recommend against non-essential travel within 40 kilometres of Gaza, which would be the area most severely affected within Israel should there be a resumption of the conflict. Should there be compelling reasons to travel to this region, extreme caution would be essential.
The Gaza strip continues to be under Israeli blockade. We advise against any attempt to enter Gaza by sea, or sailing in the waters off the coast of Gaza.
Crime remains relatively low in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory but you should take sensible precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
- Carry a copy of your passport rather than the passport itself. It is also advisable to keep a physical or electronic copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) somewhere safe.
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.
- If you’re a victim of a crime while in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv if you need help.
If you’re planning to drive in Israel and the Occupied Territories, you should be extremely careful. Driving is erratic and there are frequent accidents. Radar speed traps operate on Israeli roads and fines for speeding are high. If you’re caught speeding, you may also have your licence confiscated.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times. If you are planning to drive in the West Bank, please note that not all hire companies permit their vehicles to be taken into occupied Palestinian territory
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
It’s not safe to hitchhike in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory.
Travelling to the desert
If you’re travelling in the desert:
- Go with others
- Carry a sufficient supply of water
- Take a mobile phone
- Make sure that somebody is aware of your itinerary and your expected time of return
Tue, 15 May 2018 16:07:47 BST