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Israel and the Occupied Territories

If you’re travelling to Israel and the Occupied Territories, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation

For the latest update please read the General COVID-19 Travel Advisory >

Overview

Security status

High Degree of Caution

Latest Travel Alert

Owing to the risk of civil unrest, terrorist activity, and a recent escalation of tensions, a high degree of caution must be exercised. The security situation is precarious. Tensions remain high in East Jerusalem, amid fears of a further deterioration of the security environment. Avoid non-essential travel to areas in the occupied West Bank experiencing an escalation of violence, including Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, and surrounding areas.

The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly advises against all travel to the Gaza Strip.

The situation in and around the Golan Heights and the Israel-Lebanon border remains volatile and we advise against all travel to the parts of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that border Syria, east of Highway 98 and also the Sheba'a Farms and Ghajjar along the border with Lebanon.

Citizens should take into account the ongoing risk of testing positive for COVID-19 while abroad and should take out comprehensive travel insurance which includes COVID-19 cover. Before departure and during travel, citizens are advised to monitor our Travel Advice, follow us on Twitter, and register with their nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate.

Travel to Israel and the Occupied Territories

The latest guidance from the Israeli Ministry of Health is available here. You should monitor developments regularly, including keeping up to date with local media and travel reports, and follow the advice of local authorities.

General Travel Advice

The security situation is unpredictable and fragile at present. Please follow advice from local authorities and stay informed of the security situation.

All demonstrations and public gatherings should be avoided. The situation in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, remains tense.

We advise a high degree of vigilance and caution in and around East Jerusalem.  Be aware of the potential for political demonstrations or civil unrest to occur, in particular around the Old City and the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount site, where tourists can also expect an enhanced security presence. 

So-called "lone wolf" attacks have taken place recently in both Israel and the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. These have included stabbings, shootings, vehicular attacks, arson and stone throwing. Israeli security forces respond to these incidents robustly, including with live fire.

Israeli law allows immigration officials to deny entry to foreign nationals who have publicly called for a boycott of Israel and/or settlements, or who belong to an organisation has called for such a boycott. Please contact the Israeli Embassy in Dublin if you require further information.

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Golan and Northern Israel

The situation in and around the Golan and the Israel-Lebanon border is volatile and can deteriorate rapidly.   We advise against all travel to the parts of the Golan Heights that border Syria, east of Highway 98 and also the Sheba'a Farms and Ghajjar along the border with Lebanon.

Gaza Strip

We advise strongly against all travel to the Gaza Strip.

There is no permanent Irish diplomatic or consular presence inside the Gaza Strip and any access is subject to the facilitation of Israeli, Palestinian and de facto authorities. Our capacity to intervene with local authorities 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 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.

The occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem

The situation in the occupied West Bank remains very tense and there is a high risk of demonstrations and other forms of civil unrest. Any travel in the occupied West Bank should confined to daylight hours as much as possible. We advise against non-essential travel to areas in the occupied West Bank experiencing an escalation of violence, including Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, and surrounding areas.

A high degree of caution is recommended when visiting the Old City of Jerusalem. Gathering in the areas around Damascus Gate, Lions Gate and the vicinity of the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount and Al Wad Street should be avoided. Extreme caution and should be exercised at checkpoints.  

Safety and Security

Safety and security

Social unrest

Large numbers of tourists visit each year without encountering any problems but we do advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

Levels of unrest and violence have fluctuated in recent years. There have been sporadic violent incidents and individual attacks, mainly in East 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. The reaction by Israeli security forces has been robust, including the use of live fire.

Demonstrations

There are frequent demonstrations and other forms of civil unrest, sometimes at short notice. These are particularly frequent near Israeli settlements, Israeli military checkpoints, refugee camps, and in some areas of East Jerusalem, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, and in Hebron.  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. It is recommended that travel within the West Bank be confined to daylight hours as much as possible. You should be especially vigilant after Friday prayers and on religious holidays.

Violence is rarely directed towards foreign nationals and visitors. The cities of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho welcome large numbers of tourists with very few problems. The Old City of Jerusalem remains a very popular tourist destination. A high degree of 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 site 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 on developments that could lead to an outbreak of regional military conflict and make your travel plans accordingly.

Crime

Crime remains relatively low 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. Should you require further assistance, please contact the Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Driving

Care is advised. Driving is sometimes 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.

  • Bring your international driving licence and 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 when stopped at traffic lights

Vehicle hire

If 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 car hire companies or insurance companies cover travel into the West Bank.

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).

Hitchhiking

It’s not safe to hitchhike.

Travelling to the desert

If travelling in the desert:

  • Do not travel alone
  • Carry a sufficient supply of water and suncream
  • It is advisable to wear a sunhat, sunglasses and light loose-fitting clothing
  • Take a mobile phone
  • Make sure that somebody is aware of your itinerary and your expected time of return 

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Please note that local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Local culture

You will notice a mix of religions and cultures in Israel and the oPt. Many people feel strongly about their beliefs and customs and you should be aware of local cultural mores at all times.

Dress modestly at pilgrimage sites and in religious areas.

Be sensitive when taking pictures of people in Muslim and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods.

Avoid taking photographs of military or police personnel or installations.

Do not drive in Jewish Ultra-Orthodox areas, particularly in Jerusalem, notably Mea She'arim, on Shabbat (sunset Friday to approximately one hour after sunset on Saturday). For those observing the Jewish Sabbath, driving in their districts is prohibited under all circumstances except in instances of a life-threatening emergency.

During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset are forbidden for Muslims over 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 during Ramadan.  Ramadan dates vary each year; in 2023, Ramadan will begin on or about 22 March.

LGBT+ Travellers

Attitudes towards LGBT+ travellers vary across Israel and the oPt.

Israeli law does not criminalise same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults, and Israel is considered to be the most progressive country in the Middle East in this regard. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in the West Bank but is illegal in Gaza, where it carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Homosexuality is rejected within socially and religiously conservative spheres in both Israeli and Palestinian societies. All public displays of affection, regardless of the gender or sexuality of those involved, may attract negative attention in parts of the West Bank, and in more conservative Israeli areas, including ultra-Orthodox communities. Homosexuality remains largely taboo in Palestinian society.

Tel Aviv has a large, active LGBT+ community, and is considered a welcoming destination for LGBT+ visitors. The annual Tel Aviv Pride, which takes place is June, attracts gatherings of hundreds of thousands each year. An annual Pride Parade also takes place in Jerusalem, however on a much smaller scale, and continues to faces strong criticism from Israel’s ultra-religious community, including violent attacks, notably the fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old in 2015.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use and/or trafficking (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Personal identification

Identification should be carried with you at all times (for example a photocopy of the personal details page of your passport) in case requested by the local authorities. It is also advisable to make photocopies of your passport in case of theft or loss. 

Buying property/investment

You should be aware that the Irish Government, together with the majority of the international community, considers Israeli settlements in the oPt  and in the occupied Golan Heights to be illegal under international law, and objects to their establishment. We therefore strongly advise against the purchase of property in such settlements.

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

Please note that if you are an Irish citizen and require urgent assistance while the Embassy is closed, contact the main Embassy number (+972-3-696 4166) and follow the prompts to leave a message for the Embassy duty officer.

If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message with the following details:
• Your name
• The nature of your problem
• Your current location
• Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you're staying)

We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.

Embassy of Ireland
Amot Atrium Building, 19th Floor,
2 Jabotinsky Street
Ramat Gan 5250501
Israel

Tel: +972 3 696 4166

Public office opening hours: Monday - Thursday 10:00-12:30 or by appointment

Contact us