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travelling to israel

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travelling to israel

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Isn’t israel a long way away, what documents do i need to travel to israel, is it safe to travel to israel, i hear there is a security interview before my flight…, what if i want to visit another arab country, what about health, medicines, vaccinations, what to wear, what about money, electricity, keeping in touch, temperatures, getting around, sites to significance, itineraries.

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International Travel

Updated info for entering and leaving israel according to morbidity in israel and international, entry to israel, leaving israel.

Starting from Monday 15.5.23 at midnight (between Monday and Tuesday) - there are no longer COVID restrictions on entering Israel from abroad . However, if you are a confirmed COVID case, it is recommended not to board a flight. If boarding is necessary, it is recommended to wear a mask during the flight. Non-Israeli citizens must comply with Israel's general entry policy of the Population and Immigration Authority.

For instructions please see the Population and Immigration Authority website

Testing After Entering Israel

Anyone who feels sick within 10 days after arriving in Israel, is recommended to contact their HMO and take a COVID test, or test at a testing station, or by a remote authorized antigen home test. Information regarding test types

Starting Monday 15.5.2023 at midnight (between Monday and Tuesday) , isolation is no longer required for those who are a confirmed COVID-19 case (Israeli citizens and non-Israeli citizens). At the same time, it should be remembered that this is a contagious disease which may mainly endanger those in risk groups . Therefore, it is important to act in a responsible manner, according to the recommendations for confirmed COVID cases.

Recommendations for confirmed COVID cases

Guide to Planning a Trip to Israel

travelling to israel

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

Planning a trip to Israel is just the start of an unforgettable visit to the Holy Land. This tiny country is one of the world's most exciting and diverse destinations. Before you go, you'll want to take a run-through of some useful resources and reminders, especially if you are a first-time traveler to Israel and the Middle East. Here is a summary of visa requirements, travel and safety tips, when to go, and more to help you with your planning.

Do You Need a Visa for Israel?

The U.S. State Department does not indicate that U.S. citizens traveling to Israel for stays of up to 90 days from their date of arrival need a visa, but like all visitors, you must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date you are departing the country.

If you plan to visit Arab countries after visiting Israel, ask the customs official at the passport control window at the airport to not stamp your passport (they usually do not) as this could complicate your entry to those countries. If, however, the countries you are planning to visit after Israel are Egypt or Jordan, you need not be concerned about this.

For visitors making the journey chiefly for religious interest, any time of year is a good time to visit the country. Most visitors will want to take two things into consideration when planning their visit: the weather and holidays. Summers, generally considered to extend from April to October, can be very hot with humid conditions along the coast, whereas winter (November-March) brings cooler temperatures but also the possibility of rain.

Because Israel is the Jewish State, expect busy travel times around major Jewish holidays like Passover and Rosh Hashanah. The busiest months tend to be October and August, so if you're going to visit at either of these times make sure to start the planning and hotel reservation process well ahead of time.

Shabbat and Saturday Travel

In the Jewish religion Shabbat, or Saturday, is the holy day of the week and because Israel is the Jewish State, you can expect travel to be impacted by the country-wide observance of Shabbat. All public offices and most businesses are closed on Shabbat, which begins Friday afternoon and ends on Saturday evening.

In Tel Aviv, most restaurants remain open while trains and buses just about everywhere do not run, or if they do, it's on a very restricted schedule. This can complicate plans for day trips on Saturday unless you have a car. (Also note that El Al, Israel's national airline, does not operate flights on Saturdays or religious holidays). By contrast, Sunday is the start of the work week in Israel.

Israel enforces a smoking ban in most public places, so be sure to ask and seek out designated smoking areas if you must light up.

Keeping Kosher

While most of the larger hotels in Israel serve kosher food , there is no binding law and many restaurants in cities like Tel Aviv are not kosher. That said, kosher restaurants, which display a kashrut certificate granted to them by the local rabbinate, are generally easy to find by asking a hotel concierge or searching online.

Israel's location in the Middle East places it in a culturally fascinating part of the world. However, it is also true that few countries in the region have established diplomatic relations with Israel. Since its independence in 1948, Israel has fought six wars, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved, meaning that regional instability is a fact of life. Travel to the Gaza Strip or West Bank requires prior clearance or required authorization; however, there is unrestricted access to the West Bank towns of Bethlehem and Jericho.

The risk of terrorism remains a threat both in America and abroad. However, because Israelis have had the misfortune of experiencing terrorism for a longer time than Americans, they have developed a culture of vigilance in security matters that is more entrenched than our own. You can expect to see full-time security guards stationed outside supermarkets, busy restaurants, banks, and shopping malls, and bag checks are the norm. It takes a few seconds away from the ordinary routine but is second-nature to Israelis and after just a few days it will be for you, too.

The U.S. State Department classifies a Level 2 Advisory for Israel, The West Bank, and Gaza. This means to exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism but does not warn against visiting .  Some areas have increased risk.

The Travel Advisory warns citizens to not travel to Gaza due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict and to reconsider travel to the West Bank due to terrorism, potentially violent civil unrest, and the potential for armed conflict. It is important to check the Department of State website when making travel plans.

As always when traveling, it's a good idea to stay informed. A quality newspaper such as The New York Times or the English editions of popular Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post are all good places to start in terms of timely and reliable information, both before and during your trip.

Where to Go in Israel

There is a lot to see and do in Israel, and deciding on a destination can seem a bit overwhelming. There are many  sacred sites and secular attractions like Akko , so you'll want to refine your focus depending on how long your trip might be. Many travel to see the holy sites but others are headed to Israel to enjoy a beach vacation. The official tourism website of Israel has planning ideas .

Money Matters

The currency in Israel is the Israeli New Shekel (NIS). 1 shekel = 100 agorot (singular: agora) and banknotes are in denominations of NIS 200, 100, 50 and 20 shekels. Coins are in denominations of 10 shekels, 5 shekels, 2 shekels, 1 shekel, 50 agorot, and 10 agorot.

The most common ways of paying are by cash and credit card. There are ATMs all over in cities (Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim being the most prevalent) and some even give the option of dispensing cash in dollars and euros.

Speaking Hebrew

Most Israelis speak English, so you probably won't have any difficulties getting around. That said, knowing a little Hebrew can definitely be helpful. Here are a few Hebrew phrases that can be helpful for any traveler.

Israel: Yisrael Hello: Shalom Good: tov Yes: ken No: lo Please: bevakasha Thank you: toda Thank you very much: toda raba Fine: beseder OK: sababa Excuse me: slicha What time is it?: ma hasha'ah? I need help: ani tzarich ezra (m.) I need help: ani tzricha ezra (f.) Good morning: boker tov Good night: layla tov Good sabbath: shabat shalom Good luck/congratulations: mazel tov My name is: kor'im li What's the rush?: ma halachatz Bon appetit: betay'avon!

What to Pack

Pack lightly for Israel, and don't forget the sunglasses and sunscreen. From April through October it's going to be warm and bright, and even in the winter, about the only extra layer you'll need is a light sweater and a windbreaker. Israelis dress very casually; in fact, a famous Israeli politician was once teased for showing up to work one day wearing a tie.

If you are going to visit religious sites, women should pack a shawl or wrap. If you're visiting a religious site, such as a mosque, synagogue, church or the Wailing Wall, plan to cover yourself. Plan to cover your arms and legs which means avoiding Bermuda shorts or short skirts.

When passing through or visiting neighborhoods where extreme Orthodox Jewish communities reside, it is important to cover up and dress modestly. That may mean long skirts for women and long slacks for men as well as long-sleeved tops.

Having said all that, you'll want to pack a bathing suit for Israel as the weather is likely to be ideal for a swim.

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Travel tips for Israel

How to Visit to Israel Like a Pro: 20 Essential Travel Tips

Last Modified: September 6, 2023 //  by  Anda //   30 Comments

Israel is a very controversial country, guaranteed to raise tensions and emotions, regardless of your political views or religious convictions. War and political turmoil have been the norm here for thousands of years, so traveling to Israel can be a little intimidating. But if you know what to expect, you’ll have a great experience when visiting Israel. In this post I will give you some travel tips that will help you better understand Israel and make the most of your visit here.

Table of Contents

1. Getting acquainted with Israel’s history really helps

2. food is really good, 3. everything in israel is expensive, 4. prices are negotiable, 5. renting a car vs. using public transportation, 6. tipping is not mandatory, but is expected, 7. english is spoken almost everywhere, 8. israel is really small, 9. everything closes down on shabbath, 10. religious holidays are very strictly observed, 11. jerusalem is dead on weekends, 12. there is an obvious military presence, 13. getting in and out of israel is a lengthy process, 14. what’s the best time to travel to israel, 15. what to pack for israel, 16. is it safe to travel to israel, 17. what plugs to pack for israel, 18. is wifi widely available in israel.

  • 19. Are drones allowed in Israel?

20. What time zone is Israel on?

Essential travel tips for israel.

If this is your first time in Israel you probably have many questions on your mind. So did I when I started planning our trip. And although I tried to inform myself the best that I could, there were still a few things that caught me by surprise when I arrived. Therefore I decided to put together a list of tips and useful information for traveling to Israel.

Planning to visit Jordan while you are in Israel? Read these useful travel tips for traveling to Jordan .

This guide will cover some of the most common questions asked before traveling to Israel. Like what to expect, when is the best time to go, or what costs are involved. So here is what every visitor should know before going to Israel.

Tourists walking through Jerusalem

One of the biggest travel mistakes people make when visiting other countries is not getting themselves acquainted with the local history. Of all the travel tips that I’m about to give you, this is perhaps the most important one: learn a little about Israel’s history!

The archeological sights in Israel are not particularly impressive, unless of course you know what you are looking at. Unlike the pyramids of Egypt that will impress regardless of how much you know about them, in Israel you’ll encounter places infused with religious and historical meaning that will make no sense to you unless you know their history.

The walls of Jericho

Israel’s history goes back to ancient times and much of what we know about it comes from the Hebrew Bible. According to it, Israel’s origin starts with Abraham, who is considered the father of both Judaism (through his son Isaac) and Islam (through his son, Ishmael).

Although the Land of Israel was occupied by many nations over the centuries, the Jewish people have always been a physical, cultural, and religious presence here.

Food in Israel is extremely diverse and generally very good. A well known favorite is falafel – small fried balls of mashed chickpeas, usually served with pita bread and humus.

There are many other Middle Eastern and Arabic dishes whose names I can’t even pronounce, but they are good. Kosher refers to the food that complies with the standards of the Jewish law (for instance, pork and shellfish are not kosher).

Food in Israel

Do try all the food in Israel! The worse that can happen is that you won’t like it. For those less adventurous, there is also regular Western style food available. Alcohol is available at many hotels and restaurants, but is rather expensive.

Street food is safe to eat in Israel, but I would stat away from fresh fruit and produce that I didn’t wash and prepare myself. Exercise caution even with cooked food. If it doesn’t look or smell right, don’t assume that’s how it’s supposed to be. Just don’t eat it.

Israel is an expensive country to visit. Almost everything here costs a lot: hotels, food, entrance fees, clothes, electronics, etc. Basically you pay more for the same commodity than you would pay in other parts of the world. Besides that, they have a huge sale tax of 17% that is applied to most goods and services. A trip to Israel will cost you a lot, so be prepared for that.

One thing I noticed is that speaking English will make prices go a little higher that they actually are.

Market in Israel

You can exchange money almost everywhere in Israel. The exchange rate for the US Dollar is currently around 3.5 – 3.7 Israeli Shekel, but of course this will vary according to the time of your travel.

Bartering I one of the most important tips for people who travel to Israel. Learning to bargain will save you not only money, but also a lot of frustration. Exactly like in Istanbul , where you don’t walk into the Grand Bazaar and pay the first price you are asked to pay, in Israel almost everything is negotiable.

The Muslim quarter in Jerusalem

Israeli people expect to get a discount on all major purchases, so the listed price is calculated accordingly. Except for cars, almost everything else is open to negotiation. That’s counterintuitive if you are coming from the USA, where you can only negotiate the car or the real estate prices.

If you are not an expert driver with nerves of steel, don’t drive in Israel. Although roads are in good condition, getting in and out of any city is a nightmare! Leave alone driving in places like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Haifa! Road signs are bad and traffic if always heavy.

Using planning public transportation on the other hand works really well. Bus schedules are set up very conveniently and the train system is simple and easy to use. It’s hard to get lost.

You’ll most like have to use Taxis in some situations, so be prepared to negotiate the price before you hop on the cab.

Hitchhiking is definitely not recommended in Israel, especially in the current political situation.

Tipping in Israel is discretionary but expected, similar to most of the Western world. Unlike in the USA, where you are expected to tip between 15% – 20%, in Israel the tip is between 10 -15%. The minimum is at least 10%, the average is 12% and maximum is 15% (for exceptional service).

Waiters and bartenders get a relatively low salary, so the majority of their earnings coming from tips. Tips are usually left in cash not on card, so it is useful to carry some small change with you.

Tip money

Tipping the taxi drivers, hotel personnel and other people in the travel industry is not usually expected. However, they will not mind a tip if you decide to be generous.

Unlike in Morocco , where English is rarely spoken, in Israel is widely spoken. The country’s official language is Hebrew, but you’ll also hear Arabic, English, Russian and some other languages.

Although English doesn’t have an official status, most Israelis can speak it fairly well as it’s a required second language in schools. As such, you’ll be able to communicate in English almost anywhere you go. However, learning a few Hebrew words will put you ahead of the game in Israel.

  • Shalom  – is used as a salutation, but it actually means peace
  • Bevakasha  – please
  • Slicha  – sorry/excuse me
  • Boker Tov – good morning
  • Erev Tov – good evening
  • Mazel Tove – congratulations/good luck
  • Toda/Toda Raba  – thank you/thank you very much
  • Lehitra’ot – good bye/see you later

It’s surprising to discover how small Israel really is. The total area of the State of Israel is 22,145 square kilometers (8,630 square miles), just slightly bigger than the state of New Jersey. Getting from one end of the country to the other doesn’t take long, which means it’s very easy to take day trips. You can use either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv as a base for exploring the important sights in Israel.

If you are not completely ignorant about the Jewish religion, you’ve probably heard about Shabbath before. Sabbath (or Shabbath ) is Judaism’s most distinctive practice – a 25-hour celebration that starts at sundown on Friday and ends after sundown on Saturday.

In Israel Shabbat is more than just a day off from labor. It’s a unique and special time of physical respite meant to be spent with family and loved ones or for worship, if you are a religious person.

Tips for raveling to Israel

Wherever you go when you travel in Israel, make sure you get there before 4 o’clock on Friday. On Shabbat all public services are closed (except for emergency ones). There are no train and no busses working.

Traveling in Israel during any of the Jewish holidays can be a very frustrating experience for a tourist. Especially for those of us living in America, who became so accustomed to 24 hour open stores!

Tips for Traveling to Israel

In Israel religious holidays are very strictly observed. Most places close down, including restaurants, cafés and public transportation. On Yom Kippur (the Hebrew Day of Atonement) everything closes down. Even Ben Gurion International Airport! No one drives on that day, and the roads are completely empty. So be prepared to do nothing on this day if you are in Israel.

If you are not religious and you are a tourist for which every single day counts, don’t stay (or travel to) Jerusalem on weekends. From Friday night to Saturday night everything closes down in Jerusalem, so there is not much you can do here.

Jerusalem street on a weekend

Instead, plan to go to a more secular place like Tel Aviv or to Haifa, where everything stays open on weekends.

You are going to be seeing a lot of armed soldiers while visiting Israel, so don’t be alarmed. The presence of barbed wire and armed soldiers is nothing new in this country that has been in political turmoil for so long.

Despite the many frictions in the region, Israel is a pretty safe country to visit and the weapons you see are there for defensive purposes.

Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem

Not all the soldiers you’ll come across are on active duty however. Some are young people doing their military service. Army service is mandatory in Israel. Both girls and boys are drafted at 18 and serve a minimum of two years.

Border control is way lengthier and more thorough in Israel than in any other countries we visited so far. You’ll need to get an Israeli passport stamp , so the best advice I can give you is to arm yourself with patience when traveling to Israel.

When entering Israel you have to answer a series of routine questions (why are you there, how long will you stay, etc. etc. If you don’t look suspicious the process will be very smooth. But if you have passport stamps from certain Muslim countries (such as Iran, Lebanon, or Pakistan), you’ll have to go through a special interrogation process that will take quite a while.

Airport - Tips for traveling to Israel

Israel no longer stamps your passport on arrival, which is good news if you plan to visit other countries in the Middle East for which an Israeli visa may be a problem. Instead, you’ll get your visa on a piece of paper which you need to keep this safe, as you’ll need it for your departure.

You may expect an even lengthier process as you are leaving Israel, so plan to be at the airport at least 3 hours before departure. At the Security Check they will ask you to open your bag of electronics and they will check each and every one of them.

Practical Travel Tips for Israel

Deciding when to go to Israel depends in large part to what you are interested in doing while you are there. While there is no wright or wrong time to go, there are however a couple of things that you need to consider when planning your trip: climate and Jewish holidays .

There are basically two seasons in Israel: summer (April to late October) and winter (November to March). Summers are hot and humid in Israel, bur rain free. Winter starts when it gets from cool to cold and it begins raining). Generally it doesn’t snow in Israel, except for the mountain areas in the Golan Heights.

Negev desert - tips for traveling to Israel

Another important tip to consider when you travel to Israel are the Jewish holidays. In Israel there are two calendars: the Gregorian calendar and the Jewish calendar, but most religious holidays are based on the Jewish calendar.

Even though it’s interesting to be in Israel during some of these holidays, you’ll have to remember everything closes down during that time: public transportation, banks, stores, etc. Also, hotel prices will be much higher.

When traveling to Israel it’s important to be conscious of what you wear. While places like Tel Aviv, Jaffa, or Haifa are more open-minded and fashion-forward, in cities like Jerusalem modest clothing is recommended. Don’t bring tank tops, shorts or anything above the knees.

What to wear in Israel

With very few exceptions, just about everything you would pack for Europe you can pack for Israel as well. As a general rule however, think convenience before fashion. Here are a few tips on what to pack when you travel to Israel:

  • A scarf and a long-sleeve top, if you are a woman and plan on visiting the religious sites. Some sites may provide a cover up, but it’s better to have your own.
  • Light-weight clothing is the best for summer months. We traveled here in mid October and the temperatures were above 30ºC and very humid.
  • A light jacket and some sweaters for colder months.
  • Comfortable shoes are a must in Israel, especially in Jerusalem.
  • Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion. You won’t be able to get by without them in this torrid sun.
  • Wet wipes, small roll of toilet paper, hand sanitizer. Carry some in your pockets at all times. Many times the public toilets will not have toilet paper or soap.
  • A small umbrella. Rain may come totally unexpected in Israel, but it usually stops just as sudden as it started.

Israel is overall a pretty safe country. However, considering its fast changing security situation, it’s important to exercise a some caution when traveling to certain areas, like East Jerusalem, or the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah.

If you want to visit the West Bank, I would advice hiring a cab from the Muslim quarter in Jerusalem, or booking an organized tour. Many cab drivers in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem will offer to take you to the West Bank, but I’m not sure how safe that is. If you are not in an organized group, you may have issues at the border.

West Bank barrier wall

One thing to be mindful in Israel is that authorities are always on high alert. So don’t leave your purse, camera, or anything else unattended. People will assume it’s a bomb and the bomb squad will come and search your purse and interrogate you.

The standard voltage in Israel is 220 volts and 50 Hz. The primary socket is type H (plugs with three pins in a triangular shape), so you’ll need a Power Adaptor Type H . In many hotels you will probably also find the C type sockets (two pins, like in Europe).

Type H plug for Israel

If you are coming from the U.S. you’ll need both a plug adaptor AND a voltage converter. Coming from Europe or other countries that have 220-230 voltage systems, you’ll only need a plug converter . Most modern devices such as mobile phones and laptops have a built-in converter, but it’s safer if you bring a voltage converter as well.

WiFi is widely available throughout Israel and is usually offered free of charge in most hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars. Some small hotels may charge for Internet though.

19. Are drones allowed in Israel ?

Technically, yes. However, there are very many restrictions and you’ll need a permit for using it. Also, like everywhere else in the world, you won’t be able to use your drone in places that are of interest.

If you want to bring your drone to Israel, my advice is to register with the Aero Club of Israel and get a permit. They will provide you with a map of the places where you can fly, and also give you with up to date information about their rules and regulations.

Israel is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime (GMT). Daylight Saving time starts on the Friday before the 02 April. The move back to standard time can take place in late September/early October according to the Jewish calendar (between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.)

NOTE : As of June 30, 2023, NO Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination is required for tourists entering Israel.

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Tips for traveling to Israel

Anda is an award winning travel writer, avid globetrotter and passionate photographer. She is the voice behind "Travel Notes & Beyond," a collection of stories and travel impressions from her wanderings around the world. When she is not busy writing, traveling, or editing photographs, you can find her hiking in the foothills behind her house together with her husband and their dog.

Lecso, a Hungarian Dishes

Reader Interactions

Santhosh Raghavan

November 2, 2023 at 7:54 am

Dear friend Superb guide you covered almost everything a traveler should look into. I’ve been thinking lately that I would love to visit I am glad to read your blog about your travel experience very interesting thanks. Your personal experiences and vivid descriptions truly bring the city to life, making me feel like I’m right there with you on this incredible journey. Your blog is a wonderful source of inspiration for fellow adventurers looking to explore the magic of. Keep sharing your stories and insights – they’re a delight to read!

November 4, 2023 at 2:15 pm

Thank you for your kind words.

July 16, 2023 at 7:39 pm

You should really educate yourself. Lebanon is NOT a Muslim country per se. There are probably more Muslims in Israel! Further, there are 18 officially recognized religions in Lebanon, Judaism being one of them. Please alter your article to reflect correct information. kind regards Joe.

July 17, 2023 at 8:48 am

What else would you call a country where the great majority of the population is Muslim, Joe? According to the U.S. Department of State, 67.6 percent of Lebanon’s population is Muslim (31.9 percent Sunni, 31 percent Shia, and small percentages of Alawites and Ismailis). Also, Lebanon estimates that only 32.4 percent of the country’s population is Christian. It seems to me that I’m not the one who needs to be educated here, lol!

Michael Guide

April 12, 2023 at 4:49 am

I appreciate you providing this important travel advice for going to Israel. Israel is a contentious nation that has the potential to cause unrest and arouses strong feelings, but I concur that knowing its background is essential to getting the most out of your trip there. Israel is a nation with a long political history and a rich cultural and religious heritage.

I like how you stressed the significance of researching Israel’s history before traveling there. It’s an excellent approach to understanding the significance of the numerous historical and religious places you’ll see while traveling. Keep in mind that Israel is a nation that is ever-evolving and that its history is still being written.

Anyone organizing a first-time trip to Israel will find your guide to be a valuable resource. I appreciate that you addressed often-asked issues like what to anticipate when to go, and the associated expenditures. Before travelling, it’s always beneficial to have a thorough understanding of these concepts.

Overall, I believe that your guide is an excellent place for anyone thinking about visiting Israel to start. It offers useful information that will enable tourists to more fully comprehend and value the rich history and culture of the nation. I appreciate you sharing these helpful travel suggestions!

April 12, 2023 at 9:44 am

Thank you for your thorough review of my article, Michael. I hope to revisit Israel sometime next fall.

April 11, 2023 at 3:17 am

Superb, very useful information. Keep sharing

March 24, 2023 at 10:19 am

Beautiful write and I am fascinated by your blog as much as anyone else. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and ideas here with others. I want to come here again. Thanks kindly visit my Kerala tourism blog, please

July 24, 2022 at 12:30 pm

Ana Hernandez Well , it’s a petty you didn’t enjoy of such an exiting country. Israel semmed to me the extraordinary convergence between history and modernity. Vibrant. and modern Tel Aviv vs traditional fascinating Jerusalem, beautifull beaches beside amazing desserts. Good bargains in “zoco” vs most famous fashion brands and jewelry. Tasty. and delicious food from almost alll around the world. I’m really sorry you didn´t get all that . Hope next time you will be able to discover the real country.

July 24, 2022 at 2:57 pm

I have to confess that your comment left me wondering whether you read one post but commented on another. I can’t figure out what part of this guide made you think that I didn’t enjoy visiting Israel. I absolutely loved this country and tried to give some tips to those who didn’t see it yet. You seem quite confused about what you read.

Patrick Morgan

February 17, 2022 at 8:02 am

Do you have an Amazon link to the power adaptor and voltage regulator?

February 17, 2022 at 11:21 am

I sure do, Patrick. Here it is: Power Adaptor Type H .

Pranita Purohit

September 16, 2020 at 10:05 am

Like me, there are many who want to travel to Israel, but fear due to the political conditions and tussle with the neighboring states. However, after reading your post, the notion that all have about this country will be put to rest forever. You have presented a useful guide in the form of this post. Thank you very much.

September 16, 2020 at 11:33 am

I’m glad to hear that. Hopefully you’ll be able to visit Israel sometimes soon.

August 24, 2020 at 11:40 pm

This is the right guide for those who want to visit Israel. You certainly put a new spin on a subject that has been written about for decades. Great stuff, just excellent!

August 25, 2020 at 2:45 pm

Thanks, Melanie.

July 29, 2020 at 8:06 am

Thank you so much for your the tips.! We are going at the end of the summer, found a good flight deal! I know it will be hot, but I am from the Caribbean so that’s not a problem! can not wait to visit beautiful Israel and experience the culture. Your insights are super helpful to thank you! Have a question! What about at the airport at entering the country is no issue with the drone that I have to register? Do u know anything about it? Thanks

July 29, 2020 at 8:50 am

Hi John, The end of the summer will be hot indeed, but you’ll have a blast in Israel anyway. In regards to the drone, you won’t be able to use it much. My husband is a drone enthusiast too and did a lot of research for that before we traveled to the Middle East. He even registered with aeroclub.org.il, but still didn’t help much. Like everywhere else in the world, the places where it would be interesting to use it, you can’t. He used it secretly a couple of times (once in Acra and once in Tel Aviv) while I was keeping watch, but it’s stressful to use it like this. At any rate, my advice would be to check their website and register anyway. They will provide you with a map of the places where you can use it.

November 6, 2019 at 10:50 am

This is a comprehensive post , I wished I had before visiting Jerusalem. I found the prices to be really expensive , much to my surprise. I was also nervous when seeing so many armed guards around. It is still worth a visit and I would recommend anyone going to read this post!

November 5, 2019 at 8:46 am

Totally agree with you that these are really good to know. My parents are planning to go to Israel and I just shared this post with them.

Thank you for the heads up regarding the prices. I will ask them to adjust their budget accordingly. 🙂

Vanessa Ball

November 5, 2019 at 5:15 am

I’d love to visit Israel and had no idea that it was this small or that things were expensive to buy. The food looks super tasty, I love Arabic dishes. It’s handy to know about the religious holidays and weekends when planning your trip too. This is a really useful article to read before going to Israel.

November 5, 2019 at 3:28 am

I traveled to Israel when I was 15 years old as part of a school trip. We spent 2 months in the country and experienced many facets of it. Many people asked me if I felt safe and I personally never felt safer. Like you mentioned the entire population goes to the army they are all trained and the military is always around. This provided me with a sense of security. Love the tips to learn about history so you understand what you are looking at. And to use public transport – it is very organized and easy to use. The food as you mentioned is great although pricy and I personally loved everything I ate. Wonderful post. Israel is a beautiful country and despite the turbulent history and current political climate it is a great place to visit.

Anda Galffy

November 5, 2019 at 8:24 am

It must have been a great experience for you as a teenager to see how other people live. Thanks for your comment.

Blair villanueva

November 4, 2019 at 9:17 pm

I truly enjoyed readinv your Israel travel guide. As a Philippine passport holder, we got privilege for free travel visa access. It would be great to visit Israel for faith tourism.

E. J Requina

November 4, 2019 at 7:37 pm

Well you pretty much covered everything about Israel. Israel is part of my top places to visit and getting a deep dive of the country helps a lot. Its a bummer when you mentioned that the place is dead on weekends but hey im pretty sure there a lot of things to do the rest of the week.

Linda (LD Holland)

November 3, 2019 at 3:47 pm

We visited Israel for a few days with a cruise ship. So we were probably prepared for some things. But not others. I was certainly surprised to find that it was the religious centre for so many different religions. It was a bit disconcerting to find so many marketing messages on religious souvenirs. We ate in markets when we were out during the day. Even if I am a very bad haggler. We found armed guards in Israel, Jordon and Egypt. So I guess we sort of got used to them. This was a very helpful post. We would like to return on our own to Israel. So I will keep this post for reference.

November 4, 2019 at 12:54 pm

Thank you, Linda.

Laura Axtman

November 3, 2019 at 3:19 pm

What an amazing adventure. I hope to one day be able to travel to Isreal. Your description of the city helped me to understand the current climate and how to navigate the area with the history of war as a consistent reminder. Your photos are great and made me want to visit the region even more.

November 3, 2019 at 1:00 pm

I loved reading all your tips for traveling to Israel. It is at the very top of my bucket list right now, and I’ve heard such wonderful things about traveling there recently. As a Christian, there is so much Religious history that I want to experience. I appreciate the tips you’ve included on tipping, transportation, and electric plugs. Those are things I always research in detail before leaving on a trip!

November 4, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Hope you’ll manage to visit Israel someday, Leah.

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travelling to israel

Everything you need to know about traveling to Israel as a vaccinated tourist

Zach Griff

Update (11/29/2021) : Israel has closed its borders to all tourists for at least two weeks due to the Omicron variant. As we learn more information about the variant and Israel's reopening plans, we'll update the story below.

Around the world, we've seen countries adopt different strategies and timelines for reopening their borders. Some welcomed back tourists just months after the virus came stateside, and others took much longer.

Despite one of the world's most aggressive vaccine rollouts, Israel has been one of the slowest to reopen. Throughout much of the pandemic, the country was closed to tourists, only allowing certain foreigners to enter through an in-depth application process that could take weeks — only to require those with approval to undergo a two-week quarantine upon arrival.

Israel finally reopened its borders to foreigners on Nov. 1 after inoculating much of its population with a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

While the country is officially open for business once again, there are still plenty of hoops to jump through if you're planning to visit. Here's a step-by-step breakdown of everything you need to know about visiting Israel as a tourist.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter .

Vaccination requirements to enter Israel

To enter Israel as a tourist, each traveler must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Have recovered from a positive COVID-19 infection

Though these are the general conditions for entry, Israel has some additional regulations for each criterion.

Vaccines recognized by Israel

Israel recognizes vaccines approved by the WHO, including:

  • Johnson and Johnson
  • AstraZeneca
  • The Serum Institute of India

As of Dec. 1, 2021, those vaccinated with the Sputnik-V vaccine may enter Israel, though you'll also need to receive a positive result on a serologic (antibody) test once you land, in addition to all of the other requirements below.

Fully vaccinated under Israeli law

Israel has a very strict definition of "fully vaccinated."

travelling to israel

To be eligible for entry as a fully vaccinated tourist, you'll need to have received at least two doses of the vaccine (or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine). Additionally, at least 14 days must have elapsed from your most recent dose on the day of arrival in Israel. Finally — and this one is perhaps the most onerous — your most recent dose of the vaccine must have been given no more than 180 days before your day of departure from Israel.

For example, if you received your second shot on March 1, 2021, you are not eligible for entry to Israel (until you receive a booster dose). Similarly, if your second dose was on May 30, 2021, you're only eligible to visit Israel until Nov. 26, 2021, before needing a booster dose.

Those who've received a booster dose must wait at least 14 days from the date of the booster to land in Israel.

Related: Some countries are setting vaccine expiration dates for travel

Recovered from COVID-19 under Israeli law

To be considered recovered under Israeli law, you must present a certificate of recovery that's digitally verifiable by the Israel Ministry of Health, on the basis of a positive result on a NAAT test.

This applies to those who visit Israel anytime after 11 days have elapsed since their positive result, but no more than 190 days after the positive test, measured from the date of departure from Israel.

In addition to the recovery certificate, you'll also need to show proof of at least one dose of a WHO-approved vaccine, either before or after recovery.

Israel publishes a list of countries from which it accepts a digital certificate of recovery, and while much of the Europe is included on the list, the United Status is not. You can find the full list here .

Unless Israel changes its regulation, those who received a positive test in the U.S. will need to be fully vaccinated according to the conditions above in order to enter Israel.

A word of caution

Note that entry regulations can change at any time, so TPG recommends that you consult with the Israeli guidance for the most up-to-date information. The regulations above are accurate as of the date of publication and apply to individual tourists, not to group tours or those who've received special exemptions.

Finally, if you don't meet the above criteria, you can submit a petition to the Exceptions Committee with the details of your reason for travel.

Step 1. Pre-departure PCR test

In addition to being either fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, there are some additional requirements before entering Israel.

The first is a PCR test taken within 72 hours of your scheduled departure for Israel. Only those who've received a negative result can board their flight. Note that if you're traveling on a connecting flight, the 72-hour timer applies from the departure time of the final leg of your journey.

travelling to israel

Each traveler must present a negative test result (in English) that also specifies the traveler's passport number. Rapid tests and other at-home tests are not accepted.

The only published exceptions to the 72-hour rule are for those who've stayed outside of Israel for less than 72 hours, as well as those who have recovered from COVID-19.

For recovered travelers, you can instead present a positive PCR test result taken no more than three months before the day of departure and no less than 11 days after testing day. (Note that everyone, including recovered travelers, needs to take a mandatory PCR test on arrival in Israel, which you'll see below.)

Related: Here's where you can quickly get a COVID-19 PCR test for travel

Step 2. Entry declaration form

Within 48 hours before departure for Israel (based on the last connecting flight to the country, if applicable), you'll need to complete an online entry declaration form .

The form asks for your personal information, travel itinerary, health declaration, vaccination/recovery information and isolation information. Filling out the form should be self-explanatory, and I've included screenshots of the entire process below.

travelling to israel

You can add your travel companions to your form, but you'll need to input their personal and health information, too.

Note that when you check "Vaccinated/Recovered outside Israel" on the form, you'll be asked to input your vaccine information (or a recovery letter), and then upload a digitally verifiable document.

If you were vaccinated in the U.S. with a certificate issued by the CDC, you should not upload a picture of your card. You should instead manually input your vaccination details, as I did below.

travelling to israel

After completing the online form, you'll receive a confirmation email from [email protected], which will include a PDF version of the processed entry declaration form. You'll need to present this form (digital or hard copy) during check-in, and possibly again on arrival.

travelling to israel

Assuming that you filled all the details correctly, your confirmation will have a green highlight stating that "you may board, you must complete reduced isolation."

In addition to the confirmation PDF, you should also receive a second PDF with a large QR code, titled tav yarok in Hebrew, which translates to "green pass." More on this below.

Step 3. On-arrival PCR test

The final requirement to enter Israel is a mandatory PCR test on arrival. This is a requirement for everyone of all ages, regardless of vaccination or recovery status. This test is in addition to the one you took in your country of origin before departure.

This test is conducted in Ben Gurion International Airport after clearing customs. You cannot physically leave the airport without completing this test.

After filling out the online entry declaration form, you'll be able to pre-pay for your on-arrival PCR test.

travelling to israel

Prepaying costs 80 ILS ($26). Those who pay on arrival are charged 115 ILS ($37). I prepaid for my on-arrival PCR test and received an emailed payment confirmation code and barcode, which I presented upon arrival at the testing counter.

The test itself took less than three minutes, and you can read more about my entry experience in a follow-up story.

travelling to israel

Those who've been vaccinated with the Sputnik-V vaccine must also take a serologic (antibody) test on arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport. This costs 126 ILS ($41) for those prepaying.

After completing the PCR test, you can then leave the airport and head to your final destination for a shortened isolation period. (Any method of transportation is acceptable, including public transportation.)

Step 4. 24-hour quarantine

All travelers arriving in Israel must go into isolation, but for those who've been vaccinated or recovered, the quarantine period is significantly reduced to (at most) 24 hours.

Once you arrive at your final destination in Israel, you'll need to immediately enter isolation until you receive a negative result from the PCR test taken on arrival in Israel, or up to 24 hours, whichever is earlier.

Additionally, those vaccinated with the Sputnik-V vaccine must also receive a positive result from the serologic test taken on arrival in order to exit isolation.

My test was conducted at 6:39 p.m. local time, and I received the (negative) result in my email the next morning at 6:18 a.m.

Step 5. Green Pass (Tav Yarok)

Israel limits all indoor activities to those who've been vaccinated, recovered or recently tested negative through the country's green pass tav yarok system.

To access the indoor space at restaurants, museums, gyms and any other cultural institutions or attractions, you'll need to present a valid green pass, along with a form of photo identification (a foreign passport will suffice).

travelling to israel

Tourists should receive a temporary green pass after filling out the online entry declaration form. The pass includes a large QR code, along with your passport number and validity period.

travelling to israel

The green pass I received was valid for one month from one day after my flight arrival (due to the 24-hour isolation requirement).

It was checked at the entrance to my hotel in Tel Aviv and throughout my stay in Israel at most restaurants and museums.

Bottom line

Though Israel is officially open, it still has one of the strictest COVID-19 entry policies of the countries I've visited during the pandemic. Taking two tests, along with a one-day quarantine, isn't seamless.

travelling to israel

But, like me, if you've been waiting for almost two years to visit the country, Israel is once again ready to welcome you — though you'll have to jump through a few added hoops to get in.

The Family Voyage

50 MUST-READ Tips For Your Trip To Israel in 2023

This post contains affiliate links, for which I may earn a commission if you make a qualifying purchase.

Don't get on the plane before you check out these MUST READ Israel travel tips! We'll give you the inside scoop on Israeli culture, safety in Israel, what to wear in Israel, the best things to do in Israel and more. #Israel #travel #Jerusalem #TelAviv

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Israel is an amazing country – and one that brings with it a lot of unknowns for first-time visitors. I’ve visited eight times and learned a thing or two along the way. There are so many things to know before going to Israel!

We hope these tips for traveling to Israel will demystify the experience a little and leave you open to be amazed, surprised and excited by what you find. A trip to Israel is truly a dream come true for many people so our goal is to make your experience unforgettable.

Want to skip all the planning and access my detailed Israel itinerary complete with daily schedules, awesome activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

travelling to israel

Before you start planning your trip to Israel…

Be sure to take a family photo in Jerusalem - one of the top Israel travel tips

There are a few things to know before traveling to Israel that could make your plans a non-starter, so read these closely!

Check to ensure your passport/citizenship allows going to Israel . If you’re planning travel to Israel from the US and you carry a US passport, you’ll be allowed to enter the country on a three-month tourist visa that’s granted upon arrival. Most countries don’t require a visa in advance, but be sure to check your country’s requirements if you aren’t from North America. Use this official link for information and to apply for a visa for Israel if you need one.

Make sure your passport has at least 6 months of validity from the date you plan to leave Israel. You may be denied entry if you’re planning a May visit and your passport expires in August, for example. That would be the worst way to start a trip to Israel!

There are no specific COVID entry requirements for Israel as of early 2023. You can check this website for additional details and updates. As of this writing, restrictions only apply if you actually test positive for COVID. There is no vaccination requirement to enter Israel.

Book a photoshoot

We always love to book a photoshoot when we’re traveling. As a mom, it’s tough to get in the photos since I’m always behind the camera. We use Flytographer to capture our memories. You can get $25 off your shoot by booking with this link or using code FAMILYVOYAGE.

Is Israel safe to visit?

Jerusalem Old City and skyline with gold Dome of the Rock - one of the most iconic views you'll see on a trip to Israel

It’s safe. Don’t believe the hype you see in the news, Israel is generally a safe country to visit . Just use street smarts and tune into the news. Stay on the tourist path and you should be fine to travel in Israel. The US State Department advises that travel within Israel itself is fine, albeit with a dose of extra caution in Jerusalem’s Old City. As with any place you’re visiting at home or abroad, it’s important to keep up on what’s happening in the news. Ynetnews is the English version of the the country’s top newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. This isn’t to say that  “Is it safe to travel to Israel?” is universally answered with a  “yes” but barring a major outbreak of hostility you’ll be fine.

Soldiers are a part of daily life. From age 18 through 20 or 21 most Israelis serve in the army. You will see soldiers throughout your time in Israel. Don’t be nervous, they are young adults who happen to be wearing a uniform. The guns you see out in the street are there because soldiers are required to keep tabs on them (or have them behind multiple locks) at all times. Apart from these requirements, there isn’t much of a “gun culture” and there are stiff restrictions on private gun ownership in Israel.

There is more to the country than the geopolitical situation.  This is perhaps the most important of our Israel travel tips. While the geopolitical situation is very real and cannot be ignored, it is not the identity of Israel. Israel is home to an innovative tech sector, world-renowned agriculture and incredible diversity. Explore Israel with open eyes and don’t be afraid to connect with the people. If you view your trip to Israel only through the lens of conflict, you’ll miss out on so much more!

The water is just as safe to drink as in any other developed country. Unless posted otherwise, the water throughout Israel is safe to drink. If you are traveling to more remote areas double-check with your accommodation or the National Park service.

Airport security can be intense… or it can be nothing. I think most travelers have heard about that friend of a friend’s second cousin who was detained for four hours at the Tel Aviv airport. Yes, it happens . But it’s far from the norm. In the US, everyone is forced to take off their shoes, unpack their bags and may be subjected to random pat-downs (it once happened to me when bringing coffee back from Hawaii on a domestic flight).

The approach in Israel is different. Rather than applying broad security measures to everyone, they apply deep security measures to those who arouse suspicion. Guards are trained to read microscopic changes in facial expressions as people answer (seemingly) random questions. Certain passport stamps will definitely increase the likelihood of additional screening and questioning.

It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. It’s never been a lengthy process for us, and sometimes faster than in the US where it seems like there’s a new and arbitrary rule every week. On the other hand, I know a guy who did get detained for hours due to a wide range of passport stamps he had accumulated from “unfriendly” countries through business travel. It didn’t help that he became aggressive when questioned about the stamps (as he told me).

Israel doesn’t stamp passports anymore . And they haven’t for quite a few years! There are enough other countries who don’t like seeing Israeli stamps that they don’t do it. Instead they give you a little blue card that fits perfectly in your passport and shows your grainy photo, date of entry, passport number etc. Try not to lose it since that’s your only proof that you’re legally in the country, but we’ve never been asked for it. You may need to use it for VAT refund or to avoid VAT at hotels. You do not need to present it to exit, but upon leaving you’ll be given a matching pink card.

Important note if you plan to travel elsewhere in the region: Israel doesn’t stamp passports anymore. But if you use an overland crossing into Jordan (let’s say for a day trip to Petra ), Jordan will stamp your passport. It’ll be pretty obvious which country is on the other side of that border! It’s not clear to what extent that Jordanian passport stamp could cause you problems in the future, so if you’re concerned then it might be worth flying from Israel to Jordan (unless your passport is nearing expiration).

Use the interactive map to find vacation rentals and hotels in Israel

Practical details for your trip to Israel

travelling to israel

Israel has its own time zone, IST. It’s 2 hours ahead of UTC from late October to late March and 3 hours ahead of UTC the rest of the year. The winter is referred to as Israel Standard Time while the summer is referred to as either Israel Summer Time or Israel Daylight Time.

Israel’s currency is the shekel, which is divided into agorot. The exchange rate for the last few years has been pretty stable around 3-4 shekels (sometimes abbreviated ILS, sometimes NIS for “new Israeli shekels”) per $1 US. There are 100 agorot per shekel. Prepare for your pockets to be heavy – Israel uses coins all the way through 10 shekels!

Israel uses a standard European plug adapter. When you visit Israel you can either bring a bunch of these or switch over to this consolidated solution for charging all of your devices wherever you go. I just bought one and it’s working out great!

Israel is a fairly expensive country. Whether you’re visiting Israel for the first time or the fifteenth time, be prepared to pay prices similar to the US for food and accommodations, while some durable goods may be much more expensive (particularly if they’re imported). Israel has been struggling with inflation along with the rest of the world, and the cost of living for Israelis is a huge struggle in the cities.

What to bring to Israel

What to pack is one of the most common things to know before visiting Israel that I’m asked about!

beach in Tel Aviv

Don’t forget your swimsuit. Israel has some phenomenal beaches and benefits from the warm Mediterranean waters. Make time to go to the beach and relax if you’re visiting April to October. During other times of the year, you might still want to go float in the Dead Sea.

Dress modestly (in some places). At religious sites (including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount) and when walking through extremely religious neighborhoods, try to dress modestly out of respect for those communities – and so that you don’t get harassed. Yes, there are reports of women being spat on (or worse) for visiting an ultra-orthodox  neighborhood without fully covering themselves – ankle to wrist to collarbone .

There are plenty of microclimates to confuse your packing list. When packing for Israel, take note of what time of year you’re traveling. During the summer the country is hot everywhere during the day, but the desert and the north can experience cool temperatures at night even during the summer. During winter the whole country can be pretty chilly – we’ve seen snow on the palm trees in Jerusalem. While Tel Aviv is known for being humid, Jerusalem is higher and drier.

Pack your bags! Check out our season-by-season guide for what to bring to Israel.

Get your currency from the airport ATM instead of bringing it. Banks in the US don’t exactly specialize in shekels and agorot . You can use credit cards nearly everywhere when you visit Israel, but for a little cash just use the ATM in the baggage claim at the airport when you begin your trip to Israel.

Food in Israel

travelling to israel

The food is so good. Israel is a nation of immigrants and you can sample some of the best, most diverse cuisine in the world. You’ll find options covering every budget from fine dining to street food. Just come prepared to eat, and to eat well.

Did somebody say wine? Israel produces some outstanding wine, and you can go tasting at wineries around the Judean Hills, in the Golan or even in the desert on your Israel trip.

Israeli breakfast is a thing . If you’re a breakfast person, then you’re gonna love Israel. Delicious fresh vegetables, cheeses, eggs and bread are served up in homes, hotels, kibbutz dining halls and restaurants throughout the country – at least on weekends. So good. Make sure you try shakshuka at least once! This egg and tomato dish is one of my favorites.

You may have to pick between sabich and falafel. There’s a great debate over which is the best Israeli street food. Sabich is a traditional Iraqi breakfast sandwich with cut up hard boiled egg, potato and roasted eggplant in a pita; modern versions now add salads and are served at lunchtime. Falafel balls are deep fried chickpeas served in pita with salads. Both make for a excellent, fast, cheap lunches.

Druze food is amazing. The northern part of Israel is home to many Druze people . The Druze religion is unique unto itself although it is a derivative of Islam. They are incredible people and their restaurants have some of the best food in all of Israel. If you’re far north, check out Al Sultan in Ma’asade (and potentially laugh as your phone alternates between thinking it’s in Israel, Syria and Lebanon).

There’s a strong cafe culture. Throughout Israel cafes are abundant and wonderful. If you like good coffee or a cup of tea make sure to stop for a break. Whether in Aroma, Caffit or one of the many independents in hipster neighborhoods, you’ll find Israelis sipping at all hours.

Limonana just might be the world’s most refreshing drink for a hot day. At most restaurants you can cool off with a glass or carafe of this deliciously refreshing drink made from lemonade and fresh mint.

Kosher food is ubiquitous. The majority of food you will purchase at grocery stores is classified as kosher – meaning that it is certified by religious authorities to conform to Jewish dietary laws. The most prominent rules are that milk and meat cannot be consumed in the same meal (or from the same dishes, even at different meals) and certain foods like pork and shellfish are off limits.

travelling to israel

But not all restaurants are kosher. Kosher restaurants exist throughout Israel and are closed from Friday afternoon through Saturday evening. Don’t expect to eat cheeseburgers or pork chops at these restaurants, as both types of food are forbidden under Jewish dietary laws. These restaurants have a certificate that says all food prepared at the restaurant are prepared following kosher laws. Buuuuut… there are non-kosher restaurants throughout Israel as well. In fact, you’ll find some of flagrantly non-kosher restaurants in Tel Aviv ranging from high-brow foodie establishments to run-of-the-mill places that might be trying to thumb their noses at the country’s often-overbearing religious authorities.

Israel will give your sweet tooth a run for its money. Thanks to the melting pot that is Israel, you can try sweets from all over the world. My personal favorites? Kanafe – an Arab pastry made with noodle-like pastry soaked in syrup and layered with cheese. Rugelach – a rolled cake-like cookie made with chocolate and cinnamon. Halva – a sesame-based Arab dessert made with tahini paste, you can find it at any major outdoor market.

You should tip in restaurants . Tipping isn’t as generous as in the US, but 10-15% is a typical amount to tip in restaurants in Israel. Cash tips are preferred when you visit Israel.

Want to learn more about food in Israel? Check out these 20 foods you can’t miss!

Israeli culture

travelling to israel

Israelis are friendly ish . Most people you will when you visit Israel meet are going to be friendly and willing to help you if you have a question or are lost, so don’t be afraid to ask. At the same time, Israelis are known for being direct to the point of blunt. One of our most important travel tips for Israel? Don’t be offended, and remember that it’s ok to be assertive (like when you’re in line to get on the bus). You’ll fit right in!

Most Israelis speak English extremely well. Don’t worry if Hebrew or Arabic isn’t quite up to snuff. Nearly all Israelis speak English (well) and they’d rather practice their English with you than listen to you try to remember everything you’d forgotten since fourth grade Hebrew school. You’ll have no problem traveling in Israel even with English as your only language.

Most Israelis aren’t religious (at least, not in the stereotypical way). Yes, 75% of Israelis are Jewish. But two-thirds of them self-report that they aren’t religious! What does that mean from a practical perspective? Throughout the country you’ll see that most Israelis are dressed in typical 21st century clothing and will drive on any day of the week. But you’ll also find that Friday night is often reserved for family (or friends) dinner at someone’s home. Nearly all Israeli Jews attend a Passover seder , fast on Yom Kippur, don’t eat pork… and never go to synagogue .

Some businesses are closed for Shabbat. Don’t plan on any major outings to shops or restaurants during the Jewish sabbath (Friday evening through Saturday evening), especially in Jerusalem. In Tel Aviv you will find more places open on Shabbat – and most of the city at the beach during the warmer months. Fortunately there are still plenty of cultural institutions and outdoor activities available all weekend!

There are so many Jewish holidays. Because Israel is a Jewish state, many attractions close during Jewish holidays. Check the calendar to plan your visit outside these periods (unless you are going specifically to celebrate the holiday). Accommodations will book up faster during these periods – see the point above about most Israelis being secular – and are also much more expensive. Passover and Sukkot are wonderful times to travel to Israel ( hello, shoulder season ), but those are also weeks when secular Israelis take their kids on excursions around the country. Wondering when’s the best time to visit Israel?  Find out here.

Getting around Israel travel tips

Rack of green bikes for bike sharing in Israel. #Israel #bikes #TelAviv

It’s easy to fly to Israel. Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport is accessible from all major cities throughout North America and Europe. Flight prices vary depending on the season, but you can check here for the best flight deals on travel to Israel.

Driving in Israel is pretty easy these days. The roads are top quality and well maintained. Leading GPS app Waze was designed in Israel and will help you breeze through even the most confusing city roads. Most rental cars are European models with all of the modern conveniences. If you’ll have kids with you, make sure to read all about how to travel with car seats .

You don’t need an International Driving Permit. As long as you aren’t staying longer than a year, an International Driving Permit isn’t required in Israel. (Nor is an International Drivers License, which isn’t a real thing – just an internet scam.)

Don’t feel like renting a car? That’s ok too. Israel is well-connected on the ground bus and train systems (though not on Shabbat, Friday night to Saturday night). There are also plenty of taxis, Ubers and ride share vans ( sherutim ) to go around. Note that taxi drivers do not expect a tip, though “rounding up” is nice.

Electric bikes and scooters are everywhere . Especially in the metropolis of Tel Aviv, you will see tons of people whizzing around on electric scooters and bikes. Feel free to rent your own and give it a go! If that’s too speedy for you, pick up a free bike to explore the city for a few hours!

Don’t be surprised if your rental car ends up pricier than you thought. You just booked your car and you are bragging to all of your friends that you’re only paying $9 a day. You show up to Tel Aviv airport and find that your rental company charges a required insurance daily fee of $20+ a day. This happens to every tourist. Check with your rental company in advance to see how much they charge for mandatory insurance to avoid unwanted heart palpitations (but sorry, you won’t be able to avoid the fees!). Check rental car prices here.

It’s really not that big of a country. You can drive from the Red Sea to the Lebanon border in just over six hours when you visit Israel. The country’s relatively small size means you can see more and do more in less time when you’re traveling to Israel.

Are you thinking about renting a car in Israel? Read these 10 important tips first!

There are so many things to do in Israel

travelling to israel

It’s an everything destination. Beach days, mountain hikes, world-class cities and incredible scenery… Israel has it all .

Jerusalem is a complicated city and it’s worth exploring. You’ll want to devote a full day to the ancient city, which is made up of four quarters: the Jewish quarter, Christian quarter, Muslim quarter and Armenian quarter. Even if you aren’t booking Israel tour packages, you’ll want to book a guided tour to provide context for the history, culture, and geopolitical situation. Be sure to allow some time exploring the modern city as well when you visit Jerusalem!

The north is couples-travel heaven. Whether you’re into waterfall hikes, wine tasting or just cozying up in your secluded cabin, you won’t regret a few peaceful days of together time. Check out these awesome tzimmers  and romantic inns perfect for love-birds – we enjoyed a few during our kid-free trips to Israel!

You won’t want to miss the National Parks. With over 60 destinations ranging from famous sites of antiquity to a stalactite cave, Israel’s national parks will give you an amazing perspective on the country’s unique environment and history. Purchase a Green Pass when you’re there to visit several parks at a discount!

You can snorkel through a protected marine reserve. If you make it all the way to the southern tip of Israel, the city of Eilat has some stellar snorkeling at Coral Beach – it’s even included on that discounted Green Pass.

There’s a lot more to Jerusalem than the religious sites. While the Old City is worth a visit, the rest of the Jerusalem area also offers outstanding hiking, museums, outdoor markets and fun communal spaces. Allow time to explore Jerusalem beyond the Old City.

Matkot is something of a past-time in Israel. Before you hit the beach, purchase a matkot set. What is it? Think of it like paddle ball on the beach. You’ll hear the distinctive ping ping allllll weekend along the coast. Try it! You’ll fit right in… though you’ll have to practice for years to make it to the level of the expert 20-somethings who’ve been playing for their whole lives.

Israel is home to the world’s largest erosion crater. At the very northern tip of Israel’s Negev desert you’ll find Makhtesh Ramon, a massive crater formed by multiple erosion processes over hundreds of millions of years. It’s also home to wonderful walking paths, fascinating wildlife and a can’t-miss visitors center.

travelling to israel

There are four distinct environments – and you should try to see them all. Throughout Israel you can experience deserts, beaches, mountains and urban environments – many of them in a single day if you’re really ambitious. Part of Israel’s appeal as a travel destination is that you have so much to explore in such a compact country.

You can float on water. Looking to relax and detox your skin? Head to the Dead Sea, straddling the Israel-Jordan border east of Jerusalem, and you’ll feel weightless as you float across the salty water. The Dead Sea mud is famous for its skin-friendly minerals and sold at a premium all over the world. Looking to indulge a little? Book a spa treatment while you’re there! Find out more about visiting the Dead Sea and other great day trips from Jerusalem .

Want to get up close with Roman ruins? Yes, the Romans did conquer the Holy Land and they left behind some incredible ruins well worth exploring. The ancient sea port  of Caesarea makes a great stop along the coast and is an easy day trip from Tel Aviv.  Check out these other great day trips from Tel Aviv!

Walk a street from Biblical times. Thanks to a rich tradition of archeological excavation, Israel has uncovered fascinating glimpses into ancient history. Sign up for a Kotel tunnel tour and wind down a narrow passageway into a different era.

The Holy Land is holy for Christians too. – Ever wanted to see the room where the last supper took place? The street where Jesus carried the cross? Or perhaps Jesus’ tomb? All of these locations are in Jerusalem and can be visited in one (very busy) day.

You’ll find one of the most recognizable mosques in the world. The Dome of the Rock is the most visible site across the Jerusalem skyline with its Golden Dome. Built on the grounds of where the Second Temple once stood, this site is one of the most important sites in the world for Muslims. Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the building, though all are welcome to visit the complex at certain restricted times. Check the tourism site to see when visitors are allowed.

The kibbutz system has changed a lot but you can still get a taste of it. When Israel was emerging as a soon-to-be nation it created an economy built on socialist communities called Kibbutzim. The kibbutz movement grew over time to include everything from agriculture to industry and members’ daily life revolves around collectivism – including things as personal as raising children communally. Today, as Israel has moved towards a free market economy, kibbutzim are a shadow of their previous incarnations. You can still get a taste of kibbutz life by staying at one or even volunteering at one.

If you’re looking for a bit of a thrill, try rafting down the Jordan River. The river that separates Israel from its neighbor is a fun place to try out some rapids. Check out these great options.

Israel is part of the great bird migratory pattern. If you love seeing a diverse set of birds then you should head to northern Israel and visit the Hula Nature Reserve. Twice every year the marshes and lakes at Hula are teeming with birds of all kinds. Try to spot a water buffalo or a capybara too!

Markets are for tourists and locals alike. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv both have major open air markets called ‘the shuk ’. Here you can sample fresh produce, sweets, bargain for a shirt or backgammon board, or sip a refreshing fresh juice – shoulder-to-shoulder with locals (especially on Friday when everyone is shopping for Shabbat dinner). Visiting a shuk is a must if you are traveling to Israel. The famous shuk in Jerusalem is Mahane Yehuda, and it’s been transformed over the past years to include a vibrant night scene with pop up restaurants and pubs.

travelling to israel

FAQs for your trip to Israel

Yes, most of Israel is safe to visit. That said, there are sometime security situations that arise so it’s always prudent to keep an eye on the news – as with anywhere you travel.

My favorite times of year to visit Israel are Spring and Fall, but here’s a detailed breakdown of the best time of year to visit Israel .

If you’ve never been to Israel before, I recommend a 10 day trip to Israel to see the country’s highlights.

Plan your travel to Israel

I hope these traveling to Israel tips have helped you feel prepared for the journey of a lifetime!

Money-saving travel resources: – Find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner – Book your discounted rental car on RentalCars.com – Compare travel insurance options – 4 simple hacks to save more money on booking.com Check out these helpful articles to plan your upcoming trip to Israel: – The perfect 10 day Israel itinerary – 3 days in Jerusalem itinerary – 2 days in Tel Aviv itinerary – Where to stay in Israel – 50 things to know before you visit Israel – What to pack for Israel in each season – When is the best time of year to go to Israel? – 10+ must-read tips for renting a car in Israel – 20 foods you have to try in Israel – 25+ best books about Israel – Where to stay in Jerusalem – What to do in Jerusalem on Shabbat – Israel with kids: the complete guide – Visiting Jerusalem with kids – Visiting Tel Aviv with kids – Best day trips from Tel Aviv – Best day trips from Jerusalem – Your Israel itinerary for (more or less) 10 days – Visiting the Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Israel

Prefer to carry a paper guide book or map? Check out these great options:

If you plan on driving, a paper map will be one of the most important things to take on vacation to Israel!

Pin this article to come back to it later!

travelling to israel

What to read next

22 thoughts on “50 must-read tips for your trip to israel in 2023”.

These are great tips for traveling to Israel! I visited for the first time earlier this year, and I would totally go back again! I’m bummed I missed out on trying the shakshuka!

So glad you had a good time! What was your favorite experience?

I have never considered Israel as a travel destination. Interesting to read about it, thank you. Kx

I hope you have the opportunity to go one day! It’s a incredible country with so many unique aspects, and it’s easy to travel too 🙂

This was so thorough guide to Israel! I visited Israel for the first time this year, only Eilat and Jerusalem, but I definitely want to go there again and explore many other places. It is such a unique and diverse country. I also felt very safe there. Thank you for sharing this!

It’s amazing how safe it feels once you’re on the ground! I had no problem walking alone in our neighborhoods in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, which I would never feel comfortable doing in our ritzy neighborhood in Los Angeles.

The getting around section is good. Helpful to know about GPS, Waze, electric bikes and scooters. Been concerned about renting a car in isreal. What time of year is best for the Hula Nature Preserve?

I think Israel would be a great family destination; lots of nature and culture which is what I like! I love the sound of the food too – it seems to be quite vegetarian friendly. Pinned for later! #fearlessfamtrav

I was vegetarian for 8 years and still often prefer vegetarian food to meat. Israel is HEAVEN for vegetarians! Check out all the awesome food options: https://www.thefamilyvoyage.com/traditional-food-in-israel/

Thanks so much for blowing some of the myths about travelling to Israel out of the water. /would love to visit! #fearlesstravelfam

What an awesome article Melissa. I really hadn’t thought of visiting Israel but you have convinced me! The food especially for vegetarians looks so good! #fearlessfam

Such a great article and motivation to plan a trip! Israel is on our list of countries to visit, we haven’t been yet unfortunately. Everyone we know who has visited says it is one of their favorite destinations!

It’s SUCH an awesome place to visit! I hope you have the opportunity one day 🙂

Desperate to get to Israel! If only for the food! Thanks for linking up to #fearlessfamtrav

I love shakshouka – my favourite breakfast! #fearlessfamtrav

I’m going to Israel in February with a tour group and until reading your article I really didn’t know what to expect! You helped to relieve my “fear of the unknown” and now I’m just excited to go! Now to read the packing recommendations… 😊 Thank you!

Israel is a stunning country. Glad you made it to Israel. From the Golan heights to the Dead Sea, the entire country is beautiful. Thanks for sharing this tour guide.

Limonana sounds amazing! thanks for your tips x

Love lsrael been there two times. Going in a group is good but there is other ways they have prayer houses, advent house and hostels all very cost effective go on your on or own group. There is busses that take you everywhere do your own thing.

Absolutely! There are many different options for an amazing trip 🙂

Superb article Melissa. After reading your article I was inspired to travel to Israel. The vegetarian food in particular looks delicious!

Hi Michael,

I’m so glad you enjoyed! There’s tons of amazing food in Israel, so I hope you get there soon.

Safe travels,

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Update January 10, 2024

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Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Travel Advisory

Travel advisory january 3, 2024, see individual summaries.

Updated to reflect the termination of authorized departure status for family members of U.S. government personnel and some non-emergency personnel.

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), or immediate family members needing assistance to depart Gaza, please click here.  

Summary:  Terrorist groups, lone-actor terrorists and other violent extremists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Terrorists and violent extremists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza without warning.

Some areas have increased risk. Read the  country information page  for additional information on travel to Israel and the West Bank, and Gaza. 

Visit the CDC page for the latest  Travel Health Information  related to your travel.

Do Not Travel To :

  • Gaza due to  terrorism and  armed conflict

Reconsider Travel To :

  • Israel due to  terrorism  and  civil unrest
  • West Bank due to  terrorism  and  civil unrest

If you decide to travel to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

  • Check the most recent Alerts at the  Embassy  website for the latest information on travel in all of these areas.  
  • Maintain a high degree of situational awareness and exercise caution at all times, especially at checkpoints and other areas with a significant presence of security forces. 
  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds. 
  • Follow the instructions of security and emergency response officials. 
  • Beware of and report suspicious activities, including unattended items, to local police. 
  • Learn the location of the nearest bomb shelter or other hardened shelter. Download the Home Front Command Red Alert application for mobile devices (available on devices within Israel) to receive real time alerts for rocket attacks. 
  • Obtain comprehensive travel medical insurance that includes medical evacuation prior to travel. Most travel insurance packages do not cover mental health related illnesses/care.  
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook  and  Twitter . 
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.  
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist .

Gaza – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to  terrorism and  armed conflict .

The U.S. government is unable to provide routine or emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Gaza as U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling there. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are conducting large-scale military operations in Gaza against Hamas, a U.S. government-designated foreign terrorist organization, which was responsible for the October 7 attack on Israel. As a result of the armed conflict, the security environment within Gaza and on its borders is extremely dangerous and volatile. The pedestrian crossing between Gaza and Israel was damaged on October 7 and remains closed, and the pedestrian crossing between Egypt and Gaza may close without advance notice depending on the security situation. There are sporadic telecommunication and internet outages within Gaza further inhibiting the ability of residents to obtain information.

Visit our website for  Travel to High Risk Areas .  

If you decide to travel to Gaza:

  • Be prepared for an indefinite stay as the crossings between Gaza with Israel and Egypt can close without advance notice and for long periods during times of unrest and armed conflict.
  • Have a plan for entering and departing Gaza that does not rely on U.S. government assistance.
  • Households with infants and young children should plan for food and supplies, such as diapers and wipes, formula or baby food, and a change of clothing.
  • If you take medication, make sure to have at least five days’ worth at any given time – if you can, we encourage enough for two weeks beyond your scheduled trip and have a copy of your prescriptions handy.
  • If you use assistive or medical devices that require a power supply, be sure to find backup power or other ways that will sustain your device or equipment during a power outage.
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
  • Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.

Please be sure to visit our website for How to Prepare for a Crisis for information that may be helpful. 

Israel – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to  terrorism and civil unrest .

The security situation remains unpredictable, and U.S. citizens are reminded to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as security incidents, including mortar and rocket fire, often take place without warning.

U.S. government employees in Israel under COM security responsibility are currently restricted from personal travel to the following locations:

  • Within seven miles of the Gaza demarcation line, as well as the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon;
  • Within 2.5 miles of the Lebanese and Syrian borders; and
  • Within 1.5 miles of the Israel-Egypt border.

Additional travel restrictions may be imposed on U.S. government employees under COM security responsibility, with little to no notice due to increased security issues or threats.

West Bank – Reconsider Travel

U.S. government employees in Israel under COM security responsibility are currently restricted from all personal travel to the West Bank other than Route 443 and traveling to Allenby Bridge via Route 1 and Route 90 via Jerusalem. Over the past few months, there has been an increase in settler violence, Israeli military operations and terrorist attacks.

Additional travel restrictions may be imposed on U.S. government employees under COM security responsibility with little to no notice due to increased security issues or threats.

Visit our website for  Travel to High Risk Areas .

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What to Know About Travel to Israel Right Now—and How to Help

By Jessica Puckett

What to Know About Travel to Israel Right Now—and How to Help

On Saturday, violence erupted across Israel and Gaza in one of the worst conflicts the region has seen in decades, according to The New York Times . After Hamas militants began launching thousands of rockets and infiltrating Israeli towns early Saturday morning, the conflict has continued to escalate, with Israel’s military responding with massive air strikes. The violence has left thousands dead, according to CNN . Thousands more are injured on both sides.

At least 14 Americans have been killed in the violence, President Biden said in a speech on Tuesday, with more being held hostage by militants in Gaza. More than 10 British citizens are feared dead amid the conflict, while Thailand reported at least 18 nationals killed and 11 taken hostage, and France said at least eight of its citizens perished or have been taken hostage.

As the conflict wears on, air travel options available to tourists looking to evacuate Israel have been severely disrupted. Ben Gurion International Airport remains open, but flights have been greatly reduced and are not easy to book. Many major airlines have canceled or suspended flights into Israel, and any that are still operating are subject to last-minute changes or cancellations. Now a growing number of countries are organizing special evacuation flights for their citizens.

Tour companies and travel specialists have been assisting tourists with evacuations. “We had a few groups in the country, some we took to the airport and they were able to get on a flight out,” says Jonathan Rose, a travel advisor with Touring Israel . “The others we delivered to our partners across the Jordanian border and worked with them to secure them flights out of Amman.”

Here's what travelers should know about the conflict's impact on travel, and how to help victims of the violence.

Airlines are canceling regular flights, but ramping up evacuation efforts

Flight operations into and out of Israel remain dynamic, with changes happening by the hour.

On Saturday, the FAA issued an alert to American pilots to “use caution” when flying in Israeli airspace. The largest US airlines—including United, American, and Delta—have all suspended regular flights to Israel for at least several days. Delta is stopping its flights to Israel until at least October 31. Turkish Airlines, Air France, British Airways, and Lufthansa Group have also suspended regular flights to and from Israel.

Numerous airlines, however, are still operating. Israel’s carriers, Arkia and El Al are still flying many routes, and are adding emergency flights to help those stranded—and other international airlines are operating a handful of routes.

A spokesperson for the US State Department told CNN on Tuesday that the agency has "been in conversation with various carriers to encourage them to consider resuming travel in and out of Israel," according to a report. "The airport is still open. There are flights that are getting out of the airport in Tel Aviv. And so we encourage people to try to avail themselves of those options," the spokesperson said.

Some countries, including Portugal and Spain, have been arranging special evacuation flights transiting through Cyprus, according to Reuters . Germany’s Foreign Office announced on Tuesday it would evacuate German citizens on special flights operated by Lufthansa on Thursday and Friday, CNN reported , and Air France will operate a special repatriation flight to Paris for its “most vulnerable” citizens on Thursday, according to CNN .

Those looking to evacuate could also consider doing so over land. “I think getting across the border to Jordan is the best option,” says Rose. “There are three border crossings—one in the north, one in the center, and one in the south—so wherever [travelers] are they should get to the closest crossing. Flights out of Israel are a bit hard to come by.”

The US State Department says that travelers can check on the status of border crossing points in a security alert on its website . “The situation in Israel remains dynamic; mortar and rocket fire may take place without warning,” says the most recent State Department update . "Individuals should follow the instructions of security and emergency response officials.” Travelers can also track the availability of outgoing flights on a special flight board page, too. (Be sure to verify flight schedules and ticket availability with the individual airline.)

If you are in Israel, it’s a good idea to register your presence with your home government. US citizens and their families can get in touch with the State Department through its online crisis form and register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for security updates; UK citizens can register their presence with the government and sign up to receive updates through a similar online form .

What to do if you have a future trip planned

For trips in the coming days or weeks, the safest thing to do is to postpone travel. The UK’s Foreign Office “continues to advise against travel to parts of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and to advise against all but essential travel to all other parts.”

The US State Department has instituted a nightly curfew for its embassy personnel, from 8pm to 6am, has encouraged them to stay close to home, and prohibited them from traveling to the West Bank. “US citizens should take this into consideration when planning their own activities,” the agency advises .

Airlines have issued travel waivers on routes to Israel, allowing travelers to either push their flights to a later date at no charge or cancel for a full refund, depending on the carrier. “We are advising people traveling in the next few weeks to postpone to November or a future date,” says Susan Weissberg , a travel specialist at Wyllys Professional Travel. “This will change. Each day we’ll continue to monitor the situation as it’s very fluid.”

Travel advisors agree that postponing—not canceling—is currently the best plan of action. “Now is not the time to visit Israel,” says Rose. “Delaying, instead of canceling, is one way to show your support following these tragic events.”

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Weissberg hopes the conflict won’t deter travelers in the future: “Do not give up on visiting Israel,” she says. “It is the most fascinating country in the world, no matter what your religion is, and this too shall pass.”

How to help

The following organizations have been calling for peace and are offering aid to victims on both sides of the conflict.

The International Red Cross

In order to protect innocent civilians, the International Red Cross is calling for an end to the violence between Hamas and Israel. “The violence directed against civilians is appalling and cannot be justified,” says a statement from the group. “If the situation continues to escalate, then civilians on both sides will suffer immensely.” The organization “responds quickly and efficiently to help people affected by armed conflict,” and collects donations online .

Magen David Adom

Magen David Adom is Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance, and blood bank service. It is officially recognized by the international Committee of the Red Cross as the national aid society of the State of Israel under the Geneva Conventions, and a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. You can support its efforts here .

International Rescue Committee

The IRC focuses on offering on-the-ground support to regions in crisis. “We are dismayed by the dramatic escalation of violence and mourn the extensive loss of civilian life in Israel and Gaza today,” said an IRC statement released on Saturday. “We are focused on the humanitarian needs of civilians in the coming days.” You can support the IRC on its donation page .

The Jewish Agency of North America's Fund for Victims of Terror

This American charity has a special arm dedicated to supporting survivors in the wake of tragedy. They are accepting donations to help with their mission of providing immediate assistance to victims in Israel, as well as follow-ups for long-term recovery and rehabilitation.

The United Nation's Relief and Works Agency

UNRWA has mobilized in Gaza to provide relief to the hundreds of thousands of civilian Palestine refugees. The organization is asking for donations to support its work “providing Palestine refugee families with shelter, emergency health care, remote psychosocial support and psychological first aid.”

The Alliance for Middle East Peace

A coalition of over 170 organizations, which is made up of tens of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis, the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) goals include “building people-to-people cooperation, coexistence, equality, shared society, mutual understanding, and peace among their communities.” The organization is accepting donations and has called for “the immediate protection of civilian life, for urgent steps to be taken to de-escalate this situation, and for all actors to prevent this situation from spiraling toward even further tragedy.”

The Carter Center

Run by the former president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, the Carter Center works to resolve conflicts and advance human rights around the world. The not-for-profit “strongly condemns the targeting of Israeli and Palestinian civilians and calls for genuine dialogue as well as international collective action to halt hostilities in the region.” The organization accepts support on its donation page .

By signing up you agree to our User Agreement (including the class action waiver and arbitration provisions ), our Privacy Policy & Cookie Statement and to receive marketing and account-related emails from Traveller. You can unsubscribe at any time. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

traveling israel

TRAVELING IN ISRAEL

If you’re planning a trip to Israel or just want to learn more about the country then you’re in the right place! My name is Oren, I’m a professional Israeli tour guide and I want to change and improve the way travelers experience Israel.

plan trip Israel

My site is divided into these sections:

How to plan your trip to Israel?

Since a trip is often a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience, planning it the right way is super important.

Although today it’s easier than ever to be spontaneous and change your plans, in my experience it’s those who plan their trip well who enjoy more and pay less.

Here I’ve included a few really  important tips , all you need to know about  flying to Israel and its airport ,  basic itineraries ,  recommended tours ,  hiking , and much more.

Recommended hotels and hostels in Israel

Check out my new post about  special accommodation in Israel!

Booking hotels and hostels is a seemingly simple business: there are thousands of recommendations online.

Yet I chose to write about booking accommodations in order to address a few important issues that people often aren’t aware of when they book:

  • There’s no such thing as THE BEST hotel. It’s all about what’s right for you. And I’m not just talking about your budget. Let’s say you’re looking for a  hotel in Tel Aviv . What is important to you? Do you want to see the sea from your room and be right on the promenade? Do you like markets and prefer to be close to the flea market? Or do you see Tel Aviv as a base for other tours and prefer to be close to Ayalon (the main highway that goes through Tel Aviv)?
  • Even if you spend the whole day sightseeing, you’ll spend quite a bit of time in your accommodations. If you choose to sleep outside the cities, in the Negev or the Galilee, I recommend trying different types of accommodations, such as ‘Chavot Bodedim’, which means “lonesome farms” (or a farm in the middle of the desert). Or you could go for ‘Airuach kibbutzi’, which means sleeping in hotels in kibbutzim.
  • Hotels in Israel are expensive. This is the main complaint I hear from travelers, who often say they expected more, given the price they paid. This is why I’ve also provided a fair amount of information about  hostels , which in recent years have gotten a huge boost. There are hostels you could easily mistake for a boutique hotel rather than a cheap accommodation option. Most of them offer private rooms, so you pay half what you would at a 3-star hotel and get much more.

travelling to israel

Israel travel guide – booklets and video tours

My pride and joy! At the end of the day, I’m a tour guide. I can help you with tips or choosing a hotel or hostel, but my real passion lies in bringing the history of Israel to travelers in an interesting way.

travelling to israel

Israel is the place where Europe, Asia, and Africa come together. This is also where Christianity was founded and where Judaism developed.

The list of historical figures who have walked over this very piece of land contains great names that have shaped the history of the Western world: Abraham, King David, Jesus Christ, Alexander the Great, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin and many more.

The problem is that many of the sites are not impressive in themselves. The Wailing Wall is just a wall, and in Europe there are a thousand churches that are more impressive than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Without understanding what you’re looking at, you will get a lot less out of your trip.

As of today, I’ve written three booklets, in which I’ve basically included everything that I say on my three most popular tours: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Judaean Desert (Masada and the Dead Sea).

By purchasing  my booklets and video tours  you’ll definitely get much more out of your trip. You’ll also be allowing me to upload more content about Israel. The booklets are only sold outside Israel, so order now and come prepared!

Israeli-soldiers-Wailing-Wall

123 Responses

What a wonderful web site! I have wanted to travel to Israel for a long time, and have even looked making Aliyah there. But the first step to emigrating has got to be a thorough visit.

I look forward to learning all I can before I go. Your knowledge and the sharing of it is very much appreciated.

Thank you so much! I put here a lot of effort and it is nice to see that it is appreciated!

I m Sami. Jordanian Like to travel in Israel for while ;I have no relatives there;so;i m asking. What is the best approach should I go with.. Shall I issue visa and just start on

Hey, I think that I never meet an Jordanian in Israel, although we are neighbors.. I think you have to have a visa, ask the Israeli embassy

Before we knew there would be elections on April 9, 2019, we planned our trip to be in Tel Aviv / Yafo on that day. Do tourist activities and sites operate on Israel’s election day? Should we book a one-day tour? What can we expect? Thanks for your help.

Hi Oren, thanks for sharing your passion for Israel with us. We are looking foreward to visiting the Old City of Jerusalem next week with your Jerusalem Day Tour Ebook in hand! We will be celebrating 25 years of marriage and staying at the Sephardic House. Can you recommend a place to find good schnitzel? Thanks

Great website, after seeing it i bought the e-book which i’m sure Will be very helpful in my upcoming trip

Thank you so much! If you have and question, I am here

All of your videos, are great, and the best one is “Living in the Israeli Forest (2 years)”. I’m from Alaska and big outdoors man. I’ve been on two tours to Israel, and would like to go again this year but don’t want to do a tour this trip, although my wife and I would like to go during Succot. The two tours I’ve taken before did not include Haifa or Eilat and I would like very much to see both of those. Will probably want to stay in Jerusalem during most of the Succot celebrations. I’ve been to the Golan, but after your video want to do the hike, also if I am able, but at 68 and in good shape, not sure what to expect. Other than the heat, can’t be worse than Alaskan mountains. I’ve been studying Hebrew for several years, but not good enough to get around on my own. I’ve never stayed in a Hostel, but would like your advice.

Thanks!My next videos will be about tours and hiking in Israel. And Hostel are great! The best hike in my life was in Alaska From Proenneke cabin in Twin lake natioan park.

Love your videos on YouTube. Very friendly and informative. I’ve been to Israel many times yet learn something new every one I watch.

Thank you!!

Thanks man!

Hey Oren, thanks for All your important information of Isreal. I am visiting in June and my flight will be arriving at 10pm. My question.. Do I wait until I get to Tel A Viv to get a taxi or prebook a taxi before I arrive. I am staying at AirBnb???

You don’t need to prebook. The taxis are waiting there.

I will be there next week for 15 days.. My itinerary includes Jerusalem (4 days), Beersheba, Tiberias and Tel Aviv. Also Jordan for 3 nights.. Any last moment advice/tip? I am female solo traveller and your videos have inspired me a lot.. Super excited for this trip

Hey Thanks! there is not much you can do in Beer sheva. Go instead to Mitzpe Ramon. I wrote about it in the 7-14 days itinerary post.

Very helpful website, the YouTube channel, and you book. It is detailed and very helpful for planning. Thank you!

We are very much enjoy watching your videos on YouTube pertaining to Israel. We are believing for some day to visit the Land and hopefully live there in the future. We are in our mid 60s and are full-time RVers in the USA. Is this lifestyle seen in Israel for an extended period of time? If so, are there RV Campground memberships with places where we could stay throughout the land?

Awaiting your answers to our questions.

Continued success on your channel!

Hey, Thanks! There are RV campgrounds but not many. Sorry I can’t really help with this topic

My wife and I wish to thak you for your videos. We watched two hours last night. “Chapeau” on a fabulous video job well done. we will be in israel for two weeks. The last time I visited was Oct 1968….im sure I will freak out to see Israel today…I remeber waking up at 4;30am to walk up Massada the only way but i was blessed to walk doen the centre of massada to the well. I suspect it must be closed to tourists these day…by the way climbed down on our Tuchass as there was no banisters in thise days.

Wow.. Israel is very different than it was in 1968… Are you sure you want to come again? 🙂

Hi Oren Really enjoyed your videos. I would like to take my family next August 2020 to Israel. We are a religious family of 9 and celebrating son’s bar mitzva. Do you have any tours with rich biblical history from נ״ך that we would enjoy if we studied the stories in שופטים, מלאכים ושמואל?

Hey, Sorry it took me time to answer, there was a problem with my internet site. The best way is to call my team – https://calendly.com/11213/oren

Hi, Please make a video about the choice of SIM card for the Internet. Including Israel and West Bank. Which one has the best coverage and which one is the cheapest. I suggest 5GB and up to 14 days. Regards

Hey, Sim cards in Israel are cheap. I can’t way which is the cheapest because it constantly changing I would say this – don’t buy the ones for tourists that they sell on the airport. Ask at your hotel where is the closest shopping mall and do it there.

I am about to get on a plain to come visit Isreal and I just found your web site. I wish I would have found it earlier. the few things I have read and your youtube videos I have watched are great. I will be binge watching and reading all your blogs on the plane. Thank you for this information

Thanks! I really try to show things as is and to help travelers to enjoy the trip to Israel. feel free to share any comments you have about Israel. Enjoy!

I will be in Israel at the end of October. Looked at all your videos and I find them awesome! I found out that UBER operates taxi services from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv. Are they reliable?…even on Shabbat?

Uber doesn’t work in Israel. use the app gett and they work on Saturdays, but the prices are higher. Enjoy Israel!

Oren, your site and videos are excellent. My family will be in Israel in December and would like to hire a guide for a one-day tour of Jerusalem. Can you recommend a guide or an agency? Thank you.

Hey Thanks! My booklets are also great! 🙂 You can find the agency I work with almost on every page on my site and on the contact page. Enjoy Israel!

Thank you Oren! Visiting Israel will be “intense “. Your insights are a big help! If you intend to come to Canada some day, I will help you!

Oren, my husband and I will be leaving for Israel on Oct. 24 for two weeks! Your videos have been extremely helpful, especially since we will be alone in Tel Aviv for 4 days! I told my husband, the info you shared about your name and those of your brothers! Wanted to show him a picture I found of you and your brothers but no longer know where I saw it! Can you share where it is! My cousin is from Germany, and loves the outdoors as your beautiful wife probably does also! Thank you again so your awesome information on Israel! ??

Hey It is in this video at 4:45 my brother and me drunk at the wedding of one of then 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFUximyJ3rI&t=22s . Enjoy Israel!

Hi Oren, I use your selfguiding booklets and they are really good.!! For next year at Pesach, I am trying to find on what day public transport is not available and when everything isclosed. That is not during all the Pesach days, but when is it nd when not. Where can I find it? I hope you can help me. Thanks Mirjam

Thanks! on the 9th of April there will be public transportation until noon and on the 10th no public transportation. I am not sure about the 11th bit on the other days there will be. A few weeks before you come you can check it on one of the public transportation sits like – https://www.bus.co.il/otobusimmvc/en

היי אורן, אני מורת דרך, לאחרונה הוצאתי רשיון באנגלית. נהנית מאוד לראות את הסרטונים שלך ולמדה מהם המון. רוצה גם לרכוש את שלושת הספרונים, אבל האתר לא מאפשר רכישה בישראל. האם ניתן לקנות ממך ישירות איכשהו? תודה רבה

הי, כיף לשמוע! אני יכול לשלוח לך את 3 החוברות באנגלית בדואר. המחיר הוא 50 ש”ח. אם את מעוניינת תכתבי לי את הכתובת שלך למייל שלי – [email protected] ואכתוב לך את פרטי הבנק שלי להעברה בנקאית.

Hello Oren my name is Waldina I’m going to visit israel January 14th to 21st i would like you recommend me one tour for all those day’s, my mom and me, i would like in Spanish because she only speak Spanish. Please let me know if you have a pilgrimage tour in Spanish for us. My email is [email protected] Contact to me by email.

Sorry, there are no tours in Spanish that I can recommend.

Hello, We love your videos and has helped us in planning our trip. We are visit Israel next month and want to go visit Petra and Wadi Rum as well , what is the best advice for the trip.

Thank you for your time Ken & Alba

Thanks! Both places are worth visiting. It really depends on your time and budget For budget tours I can recommend Abraham tours. Enjoy Israel (and Jordan)!

Hi Oren., Do u provide Pilgrimage Tour package complete with hostel accommodations bookings for 14 days tour.? Period : Oct 2020

My email:- [email protected]

Awaits your reply .

Oren I just ordered your books today so I’m not sure if my question are answered in your books. Do you books have recommended guidesfor each of the city. If not can you recommend how I can find song.

We are going to spend four days in Aqaba and I understand that if you rent a car in Israel you cannot take it to Jordan. What’s the best way to get from our hotel in Tel Aviv to our hotel in Aqaba. I don’t mind spending a little extra money for the sake of convenience

Also do we need any special license to rent and drive a car in Israel as we are coming from the US Jay

Hey, I don’t recommend guide. But you can always write me @ [email protected] what you want to see and when and I can recommend guides.

Dear Mr. Oren,

Hearty congrats for the info that you’ve shared through your videos on Israel. My name is Jojo Paul and I’m from Kerala, India. Being a catholic It’s my long time dream to visit Israel. I need to know how much you can be of help to me as our tour guide. I mean, is it possible for you to make an itinerary and be as a guide once we land up there? If yes, I’ll be able to send you a plan I wish

Hey, Thanks, my next video will be about how to plan your trip in Israel. If you look for an agency to organize it all, they you can write to my nail with when you plan to come and what you want to see (you can see it in contact) and I will conect you with the right agency.

Hello Oren, I am from the USA and will be visiting Israel at the end of March. I already have your 3 guide books which are very useful. I do have one question for you. How do Israelis feel about receiving tips in USD? The tips I am concerned about are both small (bellman, transfer from airport to hotel, chambermaid) and large (coach driver, tour guide).

Hey, Thanks!Tips to people who work with travelers (tour guides, hotels…) USD is fine, but in restaurants it will be better with shekels. Enjoy Israel!

Hello Oren, I’ve just ordered your travel guides and have been going over & over your internet videos on Israel…most helpful..but got a question-My wife & I are from the USA and will be visiting Israel in November of this year. We will be traveling with my wife’s sister & her husband but we’re flying into Israel on separate flights..so we have about 6 hours or so to spend while waiting for our traveling companions to arrive …any suggestions as to a good way to spend that time in and around the Ben Gurion airport. any advice would be most helpful..thanks in advance

Hey, there is nothing to do in the airport area. Maybe you can meet at the hotel? I think it is a better option

Hi Oren, I bought your 3 booklets before our trip to Israel in February, and they were so useful. I read them first at home and then took them with me while touring. I found so much information in them and they helped us to plan our visit and also enjoy better our tours. Thank you so much! I recommend them 100%!! The booklets together with your videos really made all the planning and touring easier. We found all the 3 booklets equally useful, even though in our case our visit to the Dead Sea was a bit unfortunate due to the weather. They told us that in Masada it rains every 5 years, well when we were there it poured!! We were the last to get up, they had to close due to the floods. But thats just the perfect excuse to go back. We really fell in love with Israel.

Thank you very much! If you had rain in Masada you are lucky! I was there maybe 400 times and never got to experience it :).

Danish Krone

I LOVE YOUR WEBSITE!

So happy to have found this.

Want to show you a TYPO: “If you have specific questions, please **right** them” **It should be spelled write, not “right”:)

I lOVED TRAVELING TO ISRAEL SO MUCH. I WANT TO LIVE THERE, TOO!

Thanks! I will write it as it should be written 🙂

Love your concise youtube videos. I was in Israel in 2017 and again 2018 on tours. My wife and I would love to go back ourselves someday . flights are $1000 each from Canada.? One question are there campgrounds in Israel? Can you do a video on that? Thanks. Rick

Thank you. My family really enjoy watching your you tube videos about Israel. We were in Jerusalem in Mar 2015 but did not go to the many places mentioned in your video. We certainly will locate you to be our guide if we have another chance to visit Israel in future. God Bless and May your Business continue to flourish.

Thank you so much for the good words!

שלום אורן , צפיתי בכל הקליפים שלך ונהנתי מאוד מאוד ! אם הייתי בוחרת מחדש מקצוע הייתי מורת דרך בישראל :))) הייתי רוצה לראות קצת יותר מסעדות , אירוח דרוזי , נוצרי בדואי , שביל ישראל ,, שביל בעקבות ישו חופי הים בישראל , בתי ספר שדה – טיולים שיוצאים מבתי הספר ואירוח, קצת על מבנה המפלגות והפוליטיקה אשכנזים / ספרדים / עליה בישראל נהנתי מאוד מאוד מהקליפ על הכסף ולמדתי המון :))) נחמד לראות את המשפחה הגדלה שלך!!! אנחנו חיים בארהב כבר הרבה שנים ואנחנו חוזרים כל שנה ומגלים את ישראל האהובה כל פעם מזוית אחרת . עלה והצלח ובפעם הבאה לפני ההגעה נזמין גם את הספרים שלך :))

הי, כיף לשמוע! ותודה. אני לא יודע באיזה שפה ראית את הסרטונים – עברית או אנגלית, אבל שווה לך לראות את הסרטונים באנגלית מכיוון שכבר הפסקתי לעשות סרטונים בעברית. בתי ספר שדה הם יותר לישראלים והערוץ שלי פונה למטיילים זרים, אבל חוץ מזה אני אעלה סרטונים על כל מה שהזכרת.

Thank you for the awesome videos, they are so practical and informative. I am from the US and have a trip planned for the end of June which I can change to July, In which a friend and I will be on our own trip. 2 weeks were volunteering on an excavation, but it is canceled. This will be a 5th trip. I hope it comes out ok. I know that you and tourism have taken such a big hit . can only imagine the joy when tourism in Israel is back on track! Blessing and best for you and your family. shalom

Thank! And yes, it is a big hit… I hope that in August things will get better.

Do you do physical tours, do you do day tours, what are you rates?

Shalom, I am sorry but I stopped doing tours. I am now working on new videos and more booklets.

Great website. I lived in Israel for two years in my youth. I always come back… I’ll contact you if I return for a private tour guide services.

I liked your video on the Arab-Israeli conflict. A lot of jew-haters out there don’t want to hear the truth.

Shalom, Thanks! I made that video because I get so many hate comments from Arabs and lefties.

Hi Oren, I discovered your channel on YouTube and have been enjoying your videos. Thank you for creating them!

One topic I would like you to publish a video about is Accessibility to various Israeli sites and in hotels, public transportation and restaurants. In my situation, for instance, I use a cane to walk and cannot stand for long periods or walk long distances. I’m sure others use wheelchairs who would be interested, too.

Can someone with mobility issues obtain a satisfying visit to the traditional sites in Israel?

I ordered your books and am awaiting their arrival!

Shalom, Thanks! And I will make a video about it. it will take me time but I will say that all major sites are accessible and in public transportation there are places for wheelchairs. However it can be better and needs to be improved.

שלום. איזה אתר מצוין. ותודה על ההצעות שלך. קורים לי בארי ואני מארצות הברית

היי אורן שלום! קניתי בדיוק עכשיו את שלוש החוברות שלך. שבת שלום וברכות מספרד.

תודה! מקווה שתהנה מהן

I stumbled upon your website. What a great source of information about Israel , it almost feel like it was written for me. I don’t normally buy guide books but will certainly get a copy of yours because you have put so much on this website . Thank you Ps: when travel restrictions get lifted I am planning to suprise my sister with a trip to Israel

You made my day!

Oren, First thank you for your website and videos. You have obviously put a lot of work and thought into them, and it shows, they are amazing! Nine of us have booked a one week trip to Jerusalem at the end of September, staying in King David Residence. I have downloaded your booklets and I will send a link to my friends so they can download or purchase also, as they are pocket sized, and we will all be able to go off and do our own thing, if we wish. Can you tell me what is the feeling at the moment ‘on the ground’? Will Jerusalem be open for business again soon? Bless you, stay safe and well, Eric.

Thanks! I have answered your email 🙂

Hi Oren From Strini ( South Africa )

I am in awe of the dedication and effort you put into your video’s. Your video’s are informative , short and very captivating . It is clear that you are not out to make a quick buck we need more tour guides like you in the world. Keep up the excellent work I am sure your dedication is much appreciated.

Regards Strini

Thank you so much for your kind words!

Thank you for your videos. It brings back our wonderful times in Israel. We were there in 2010 for 2 weeks and 2012 for a month. Both times we stayed at the same appartment in the Abu Tor area of Jeruselem. It was easy to plan trips around Jerusalem and travel to Eilat, Tiberias, Masada &Tel Aviv on Egged. Folks & bus drivers were extremely helpful. We did our food shopping at the Suk near the Central Bus Station and Super Deal on Hebron Rd. We also did a lot of walking in Jerusalem. I do feel the hills all seem to go up. We found airport transit with Nesher just fine. We were independent senior travelers. Our only escorted tour was to Hebron. Everything else we organized on our own. And finally, the Israeli sim card provided really cheap phone rates. My partner has passed away, so my travels have taken a different turn. And, now no travel at all. Oh well. Moral of the story, travel your hearts out while you can.

I am sorry for your loss And thank you for your good words

״ הנצרות היא הדת המונוטאיסטית היחידה שהחלה את דרכה בארץ ישראל והיא יצאה מתוך העולם היהודי. ישו היה יהודי. הוא קרא לתיקון בתוך העולם היהודי, התלמידים שלו היו יהודים והוא נקבר כיהודי. בין התלמידים שלו היו שניים להם חשיבות מיוחדת – פטרוס ופאולוס. פטרוס הפליג לרומא והקים שם קהילה נוצרית חשובה שהפכה למרכז הכנסייה הקתולית והוא נחשב לאפיפיור הראשון (פרנסיסקוס, האפיפיור הנוכחי, הוא ה-266 במספר). פאולוס ניסה לשכנע יהודים להאמין בישו ומשנכשל הוא התחיל להפיץ את תורתו של ישו ללא יהודים. כדי להקל עליהם הוא ביטל את מצוות התורה, בין היתר את המילה והכשרות. הוא השליח שבעצם הפך את הנצרות מכת יהודית״ – אתה צריך לקרוא את הברית החדשה. פולוס לא נכשל, ישנם הרבה יהודים שמאמינים בישוע. הוא לא הקים דת נוצרית.

I am an older Australian lady. And I wish that I’d seen your excellent website and informative videos before I made my very first visit to Israel last year. But it will all certainly be very valuable next time IyH I come. Thanks so much for all the effort you put into helping us to make the most of our visits, Oren.

Thank you so much for your kind words! I lived two years as a kid in Sydney. I can still sing the Australian national anthem 🙂

Hi Oren, I know it is short notice, but my daughter and I are planning to visit Israel in a couple of weeks from January 3rd – 15th, and are wondering if you will be available to guide us, or maybe we ca join a group that you may be guiding at the time. If you are already fully booked will you please direct us to one of your colleagues who does as good of a job as you seem to do who may not be fully booked?

Hi, I am not sure this is a good time to visit as many sites are closed, and there is a good chance of a lock down. I will not guide until the end of corona. I can recommend my friend Avirama – [email protected]

My daughter and I will be traveling to Israel January 3rd-15th. We are wondering if you are available for tours during this time. If not, please direct us to one of your colleagues.

Thank you, Chris

Oren: My wife and I are practicing Christians and have wanted to travel to Israel for a very long time. I happened upon your site while doing some serious research for information to make a trip to Israel possible. I hit the treasure trove when I found your site. You have so much information- I just want to say thank you.

Thank you so much!

Hello Oren My name is Zaki I am from Egypt and would like to know your tour packages for myself and my family.

Hey, First of all, I am very happy you wrote me, I never met a tourist from Egypt. I think that I will stop guiding myself after corona and make only videos and videos tours.

Enjoying your website and your vlogs on Youtube. Keep it up. Deon, Cape Town

Oren I cannot begin to tell you how much your videos have inspired me! I have been dreaming of a trip to Israel for many years and all things considered, November of 2021 my brother and I will be traveling from the US to Israel to spend 20-days traveling around. I bought all 3 of your travel guides and they have proved to be very helpful in our planning process. We are very grateful for all of the very detailed information that you have put in them. Hopefully the current issues with Covid will begin to resolve and Israel will open their borders to tourists before our scheduled travel times!

Thanks, Bill

Thank you so much! I am very optimistic about November

If we arrive later in the evening during the week (about 2030) then go through customs, is it safe to ride the train to the Herzelia station then walk about 1km to our hotel?

Yes. It is safe

Hi Oren. A very nice website. I am from India and wish to visit Israel. I wanted to know how is the situation currently with the Covid. And any idea when will international travel resume back there. I see a lot of your youtube videos and they are very clear in terms of instructions. So you are doing a great job ??

Thanks! I can’t really answer that. I think that in Summer the skies will be open

I have a flight to Israel on May 25th arriving the 26th of 2021. Im not sure if changing my flight to late September or early December would be best. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Hey, It is hard to say. Israel is opening up slowly, but it can change in days…

Hi Oren, I love your videos. My favorite one was of you showing your new home in your kibbutz in the negev. I would like to see more of your life there. The ups and downs. The benefits or drawbacks of raising children in that location. I think this would be relevant and a popular video for your viewers. Toda

Thanks! I would, but my wife doesn’t want me to expose the family, and I can understand that 🙂

Hi Oren and warm greetings from Australia. We have loved watching your videos since our friends the Zahavis told us about you a couple of years ago. Thanks so much for all the time and effort you put in, and also how respectful you are when talking about things. We find your videos super interesting so thought ot was time We told you so.

Thank you for your kind words. I love Australia, I went to St. Ives high school in Sydney for two years. I can still sing the Australian national anthem 🙂

Oren, I really enjoy your YouTube videos. But I especially want to thank you for the recents ones about the Arab-Israeli conflict, specifically the left and the Arabs, וישראל ; Ten things you didn’t know about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Your videos should be on the networks but never will because even though the Jews “control” the media, there haven’t been many pro Israel stories. And equating Israel with the way the US treats the blacks is pure rubbish. So thank you again for these videos!

Shalom Oren,

My wife and I will be visting Israel the first two weeks of November. We have been watching your videos for great tips, and you have inspired us to do more than we originally had planned to do, and we are now overwhelmed. If we provide arrival and departure dates, and tell you the types of activities we like to do, can we hire you to put together an itinerary for us?

Thank you very much! I don’t write itinerary but I can recommend Itay (I made with him a video about itinerary) – [email protected]

I’ve been working here for a year, and am staying for 2 more. Been to Eilat, Jerusalem, Haifa, Caesarea, Ashdod and some other sites for work or weekends with my family and my lovely Israeli friends. Sometimes I encounter Oren’s videos on Youtube and got a chuckle because I was walking in his shoes all along. He’s just that authentic. The guy is legit, and I just bought his booklet to support him. I also trust his guidebook will help me in many more weekends in Israel (especially now that Covid-19 is almost a non-issue here) so I won’t have to annoy my native friends for help anymore.

Hi Oren, How long does it take to get from Terminal 3 to the train station? Last train to Hanayria is 9:45 PM and our flight scheduled to arrive at 8:00, can we make it? Thank you.

It is right outside the terminal. Less than a minute 🙂

Sylvie, Thank you for sharing the videos

Shalom Oren!

Love your videos! Can you recommend sights/activities near Yavne’el (near the Kinneret) that we can see/do during the day during the heat wave? Trying to brainstorm options that won’t result in sunburns and heat strokes…. 🙂 Thanks!

Hello, do you still give tours to tourists?

Love your videos, I appreciate your a critical thinker. My family is planning a trip to Israel in July. We would really like you to be our guide at least for a couple of days especially to the city of David and the Shrine of the Book. Speaking of the Essenes I noticed in your video about Yeshua you mentioned there were about 5000 Essenes I believe you got that from Josephus Flavius were he mentioned there were 4000 Essenes and about 5000 Pharisees I think he was speaking of Teachers in the two movement we both know there was way more than 5000 Pharisee is Judea. So he could only be speaking of Rabbis vs Masters (the title of Essene teachers) Since you are a critical deliberative thinker I would enjoy you showing me around. I practice what I call Davidic Judaism. My wife and I and daughter Ruth would be honored to take you and your wife and any children you have out for fine dinning as our guest. I think we would talk long into the night, laugh and enjoy learning more of varieties of perspectives. You are a true academic a rare thing in this politized world.

אנחנו עוקבים אחרייך ביוטיוב ורצינו לשכור שירותיך ליום הדרכה בירושלים.

איך ניתן ליצור אתך קשר לתיאום?

שבת שלום, יוסי

אני כבר לא מדריך. סליחה על התשובה המאוחרת

Hello I am from perth Australia. My family (2 adults and 2 kids )wish to visit the holy land and egypt (pyrmaid).. By july or October 2023. Approximately 10 – 15 days. As an Australian citizen…. I don’t need visa for israel.

If we reach israel our own…. Are we able to join your group for the tour…. We are looking for group accomodation, food, tour all inclusive… Let me know

Hi, I am sorry but I don’t guide anymore.

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travelling to israel

Best hotels & hostels in Israel

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Places to visit

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20 Things To Know Before You Travel To Israel in 2024

travelling to israel

The first time I visited Israel I was surprised in many ways. There were so many things I did not expect that I decided to start writing them all down. I love going to a country without any expectations, because those who have expectations can only get disappointed! Right? I found many reasons to visit Israel , but also some things I didn't like and that is how came up with this list of things to know before you travel to Israel.

June 2017 was my first time visiting Israel and I had such a blast that I decided to travel to Israel a couple times in the last years. All my travel tips in this blog are based on my own experiences traveling in Israel.

Stay connected on your trip to Israel and fix yourself a local sim card. Click on the link to read my complete guide for buying a sim card for Israel in 2024 . A prepaid sim card is one of the few things that is cheap in Israel! :)

Buying a sim card for Israel online is the best way to stay connected but you can also buy a local prepaid sim card at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport. Much more expensive but I will show you where to go in my blog about buying a sim card at Tel Aviv Airport in 2024 .

When you decide to travel to Israel and are looking for tours around the country I can recommend you to use Abraham Tours . I have had an amazing time and got many lifetime experiences through them. They also have cool group trips and can organize some of the cool activities that I listed in my article with  33 Best Things to do in Israel .

1. Is it safe to travel to Israel

Yes! It is safe to travel to Israel in 2023. Over the last years there have not been reported any major terrorism attacks although the Israel - Palestine conflict escalated again in 2021 thing have been quiet lately. Security is really tight at the airport but when partying in Tel Aviv or floating in the Dead Sea you won't notice anything strange. I have never felt unsafe on any of my trips to Israel.

But this Israel travel blog is not about all these kind of things I want to keep it travel related and tell you about my experiences traveling in Israel and this is my list of things you need to know when visiting Israel in 2023.

you may also like...

Visit Gaza Border Israel | The Reality Tour

2. Country of hummus

You might not expect a dip to be healthy but hummus is actually pretty healthy and originates from Israel. With every meal you will get a plate of hummus either as a starter or as a main dish. It is pretty normal for Israeli’s to have a Hummus lunch, just some bread and a bowl of hummus. There is even a popular Instagram account called Hot Dudes And Hummus, check it out if you are into it before your trip to Israel so you know what to expect. Click here for a cool food tour through Tel Aviv .

Looking for things to do in Israel ? Click on the link for the best Israel activities, including 8 not so standard activities like: ATV riding and a hot air balloon.

3. Sharing food is common

travelling to israel

A trip to Israel is not complete if you didn’t try 281 dishes in 1 week! I am a big fan of 9 small plates on the table and dipping your bread or vegetable in all of them. A good thing to know before you travel to Israel because ordering a main dish for yourself is weird! :) Israelis love to share food and expect them to order a lot of different things and just try everything. Ordering a main dish just for yourself will frown eyebrows.

4. Food is suppose to be kosher

Food has rules in Israel as far as that counts for religious people. You will often find restaurants stating that they offer ‘kosher’ food, which basically means they stick to the rules of the religion, It is something like Halal food for Muslims. Main rule is: don’t mix dairy with meat. In reality most young Israeli’s don’t care at all, but it is good to know when you are planning a trip to Israel.

5. Betzavta - dine at a local home

israel travel tips 4

Betzavta means together and as food is an important part of the Israeli culture I think this is one of the most unique things to do in Israel. Do you want to learn up close and personal about the Israeli culture than book a family dinner at someone's home. Go to the Betzavta website book your dinner and they match you with someone nearby that is going to cook you an amazing family dinner in their house. Experience the Israeli hospitality to the its fullest.

6. Fight for your right in Israel

Living in Israel is unlike in any other country and some expats explained me that they really had to get used to some Israeli habits when they moved here. From your 18th almost everyone in Israel has to join the army for at least 2 years, boys and girls. I saw kids walking around with a big gun in their hand who looked half my age, but on the contrary also cute girls flirting with me in their uniform.

The military service is compulsory but it will definitely form you as a person. Israeli’s have a getting things done mentality and can be super direct! Get used to it, this hands-on mentality is how they have been raised.

7. Safety issues in Israel

israel travel tips 2

Israel will always be a country with issues and yes there are always people that will have their opinions about the conflicts going on here. But I did not go to Israel to discuss this or to find out more about it. I was there to see the beauty, the crazy and the holy! But of course I can understand that safety issues are important visiting Israel tips.

But just because Israel is a place of conflict that does not mean it isn’t safe. I have walked around on the streets at night and during the day and went to remote areas in the South and visit the Dead Sea, but didn’t stumble upon anything that made me feel unsafe.

things you need to know before you travel to israel 2

Security is so tight that it actually annoyed me like crazy sometimes. Expect long lines at the airport security. I waited 40 minutes to go through security, got questioned 20 minutes before entering Israel and 10 minutes when I left. Why? I assume it contributes to make Israel a safe place, which it definitely is nowadays. Safety issues? No worries…

8. Israel is damn expensive

visiting israel tips 2

This beer was $12!

This is may be one of the most important things to know before you travel to Israel. Wow Israel you really surprised me on my first visit with your price levels! I did not expect anything like this at all. I just came from Sydney and was used to pay $10 for a beer, but a beer in Tel Aviv can also easily be $10. Damn it! Groceries are not cheap either.

Apparently the salaries are not outrageous like in Australia so respect for those who are living in Israel and have to deal with it. Street food is like $6 - $10, mid range hotel room $130, car rental $70 per day, meal at the beach $35. Damn I wish you were cheaper Israel!

9. Tel Aviv is ugly

When I walked around my first time in Tel Aviv I was not really impressed by its beauty. From my friends balcony I could overlook the city and that didn’t really help either. Don’t expect a stunning historical city with beautiful squares like in Europe, during the day just go to the beach is my best travel tip for Tel Aviv.

The best Israel travel tip is to see the this city at night. Tel Aviv’s beauty comes out at night and wow the stories are true! Damn what an epic nightlife Tel Aviv has! Unlimited bars, clubs and restaurants and the cool thing is that it is bustling everywhere. Inside the bars and outside on the patio. There are so many people hanging around in the streets. Don’t get disappointed walking around Tel Aviv by day, wait till the sun goes down! ;)

Have a look at this boutique hotel in Tel Aviv. It has a rooftop for guests only with the most amazing views. Read my complete review of Fabric Tel Aviv in the link. Looking for even more luxury then try out the Renoma Hotel

10. Smoking in bars/restaurants is still a thing

trip to israel 2

It felt like I was stepping back in time when I entered a bar for the first time back in 2017. Even in Thailand there are places where there is a strict law against smoking in bars, but everywhere I went in Israel people were smoking cigarettes. For the die-hard smokers this will be paradise, but for me it was hell! My clothes smelled so awful and my hair even worse. Every time I went out I had to take a shower when I came home in the middle of the night! Well, there was no escaping I had to get used to it…

Update: in 2023 things have slowly changed for the better. Laws are much stricter now and there are many bars with a no smoking policy. Must say though still many people smoke in Israel and sitting on the terrace outdoor there is a big chance the table next to you is smoking cigarettes. Still can't get used to it: disgusting!

11. Carry a travel adapter

travelling to israel

12. No Uber, but Gett Taxi

trip to israel 1

A very common thing in the streets of Israel: an electric bike!

There is no Uber in Israel. Instead you have to download Gett Taxi as that is the taxi app for Israel, cheaper than a normal taxi and the standard way of getting around in Tel Aviv. For long distance trips there are very comfortable busses, trains are comfortable but train stations are not centrally located.

13. Bedouin culture still exists

planning a trip to israel 5

The South of Israel is covered in sand, this is the playground of the Negev Desert. There is hardly any life possible and obviously there are not that many places of interest but there are some oasis’ and since I had never been to any of them it was cool to stay overnight at one of these places.

trip to israel 3

The Bedouin culture is still alive here and drinking tea and eating there the local food is a great experience.

Want to experience this on your trip to Israel, the click here to find out more about Desert tours .

14. Second biggest Burning Man Festival: MidBurn

planning a trip to israel 1

The desert can be fierce with temperatures touching more than 40 degrees during the day and getting as low as 10 degrees at night, but somehow this environment once a year lures about 15,000 people to the middle of nowhere. Israel is home to the second biggest Burning Man festival after the original one in Nevada, USA.

I was lucky enough to get tickets (with a foreign passport it is easier) for this sold-out festival and to go wild in the desert for 5 days straight. Put this festival in your agenda when you are planning to to visit Israel. What an unbelievable experience, one of the most amazing festivals I have ever been to.

For the complete Israel festival Calendar for 2023  have a look in the link.

Midburn Israel is like CrazyLand, everything imaginable is possible! People come to Burning Man to explore what is beyond their borders and comfort zone in terms of sexuality, drugs, meeting people, giving, taking, caring. I am not a virgin anymore, I became a Burner now!

100% I will be back and experience MidBurn again some day… Read here more about how I experienced the 10 principles of Burning Man at the MidBurn festival in Israel, including a cool video of 3-minutes about my festival experience.

15. Liberal drugs policy

The country is very liberal towards drugs. I don’t know if that is one of the best Israel travel tips, but nowadays drugs is a very much accepted thing in society, although no one ever talks about it. Except me! :)

Drugs are officially forbidden by law of course and I am not encouraging you to use drugs in Israel, but that said... everything is possible. If you have read my article 30 adventures from 5 years around the world  you would know that I am normally not a fan of using drugs in a foreign country, but… I stumbled upon a local in Jerusalem smoking a joint in the streets with the police only meters away and a complete army peloton approaching us. I asked him if I could film him for my Snapchat and he said: no problem!

Smoking a joint is even accepted inside a bar. Although I know the MidBurn Festival is not really a benchmark but I was able to lay my hands on anything imaginable. Although I had the opportunity I still have never tried LSD (Acid), but Israel will be the country where I tried GHB for the first time in my life. As I said MidBurn was epic! ;)

Don't tell people because of what Traveltomtom said about drugs was one of the reasons to visit Israel ! I did not even name it in the list of 24 reasons, it was just an observation. Click on the link for way better reasons to travel to Israel.

16. Themed beaches

visiting israel tips 3

Tel Aviv is a beach destination and that means the city center is only footsteps away from the ocean. But before you walk to the beach make sure to ask someone where to go. This is one of those things to know before you travel to Israel or things can get awkward. LOL! A lot of beaches are specifically catered for a group of people whether religious, gay, families and even a beach where dogs are running around freely. Totally in line with the crazy contrasts in this country the gay beach is next to the religious beach.

17. Israel is gay friendly

israel travel tips 1

You might not expect it from such a religious country, but Israel is on its way to become the gay capital of the world. About 30% of the people living in Tel Aviv are gay. That said there is only one gay bar in Tel Aviv. According to locals there is no need for more as there are so many gay people around, every bar is gay bar!

If you are looking for more gay-information then sign up for a gay tour through Tel Aviv .

An LGTB traveler? Then this definitely is a recommended and fun thing to do when planning a trip to Israel. If you are gay then this is your Mecca! ;)

18. Second biggest Gay Pride in the world

visiting israel tips 1

With all those gay people living in Tel Aviv it is no wonder that the city hosts the second biggest Gay Pride in the world. A massive parade will roam the city streets of Tel Aviv in the early morning and end up on the beach with a crazy party. Around 200.000 people witness the parade and party all day long.

I was lucky to be part of it, although totally straight I loved it to bits and pieces, what an epic party! When possible try to squeeze this into your itinerary.

There is also a Pride Week Package  (including accommodation and parties) available with Abraham Tours. Check it out if you are interested.

19. Jerusalem is the craziest (holiest) city in the world

things you need to know before you travel to israel 1

Keeping up with the contrasts lets talk about Jerusalem! This city is a place you have never seen before. Why oh why did those religious people all chose Jerusalem to be holy?

The Western Wall is the most holy place in the world for Jews, only a stone throw away from Jezus’ tomb where hordes Christians flock and the third most holy place for Muslims is just across the street. Damn it can you make it even more complicated?

Walking around here as a non-religious tourist you will definitely feel the Holy Spirit from whichever religion. After a day strolling through the spectacular old city I ended up in a gay bar, can there be any more contrasts?

One of the best Israel travel tips: Tel Aviv plays, Jerusalem prays.

things you need to know before you travel to israel 3

In need of a great guide in Jerusalem? Abraham Tours hosts many cool tours in Jerusalem. One of them is the  Jerusalem Pub Crawl , a must do when visiting Jerusalem and looking for a cool crowd to explore the fabulous nightlife.

There are also Jerusalem day-tours from Tel Aviv, 3 and 4 day tours including Jerusalem and Dead Sea and many more.

Check out some more tour inspiration and Israel travel ideas below! Click on the 'next page' button to see more tours. 100ILS = $27   

20. Lowest point on earth is in Israel

planning a trip to israel 4

We all know about the highest point on earth, but not that many people realize that the Dead Sea on the border of Israel and Jordan is the lowest point on earth; a crazy landscape to discover and for sure worth the drive downhill. Enjoy the spectacular views from up top or jump in the only boat that drives on the Dead Sea apart from a research vessel.

How to arrange this boat ride on the Dead Sea? Click below to get connected with Abraham Hostels as they are the unique seller of this tour.

There are a dozen different Dead Sea tours, see below. 100ILS = $27  

Planning a trip to Israel in 2024

On my first trip to Israel I was lucky enough to be chosen by Vibe Israel to join their yearly returning travel blogging trip and they planned most of my trip to Israel. I wish though I had known a couple things before I traveled to Israel and therefore I hope this list was helpful to you.

I sincerely hope you will consider this country to be your next travel destination and that my blogs about this controversial country convinced you that it is an amazing place to travel and to experience its great contrasts.

I feel privileged that because of my travels I am able to take away misconceptions and in that light I also took a trip to Syria and a trip to Iraqi Kurdistan !

In the next link you will find 33 things to do in Israel , not just the standard stuff but some epic adventures like zip lining, rappeling, ATV trips, a hot air balloon ride and more. In my 24 reasons to visit Israel I summed up a whole list of why you should visit this country if you are still not convinced.

If this blog about traveling to Israel was helpful would you like to help me a little? Please pin it on Pinterest, tweet it on Twitter or share it in a Facebook Group or somewhere on the internet. It would mean the world to me! Thanks a million...

May you still have questions about traveling to Israel please leave me a comment below and I am more than happy to help you out.

Enjoy your trip to Israel!

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Are airlines returning to Israel, despite the war on Gaza?

The number of airlines flying into the country has crawled back up to 45, from a low of just seven in December.

El Al Israel Airlines planes are seen on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv

Almost as soon as Israel’s war on Gaza broke out on October 7, many airlines suspended or cancelled their flights to Israel.

Last week, Yossi Fattal, director general of Israel’s Chamber of Inbound Tourism Organisers, complained that Israel had become isolated – “like North Korea” – as dozens of airlines remained reluctant to fly there.

Keep reading

Which airlines paused or cancelled flights to israel after hamas attacks, iran says israel behind attacks on gas pipelines, gaza journalists flee from israeli fire, what’s troubling brazil-israel ties unpacking a love-hate relationship.

The war has significantly affected Israeli tourism and flights. Yet, things are beginning to change.

Ben Gurion airport

Which airlines have resumed flights to Israel?

United Airlines announced on Wednesday last week that it will begin flights to Israel again from March, becoming the first United States carrier to resume flights after suspensions at the start of the war.

United plans initial flights to Tel Aviv from New York and New Jersey in the US on March 2 and 4, with a goal of having daily non-stop service restored from March 6. The carrier said in a news release that it had undertaken a detailed safety analysis before making this decision.

British Airways, which used to operate two flights between the United Kingdom and Israel daily, will resume operations on April 1, operating one flight daily for four days a week.

German airline Lufthansa, Switzerland’s flag carrier Swiss and Austrian flag carrier Austrian Airlines resumed flights to Tel Aviv on January 8. Meanwhile, Spanish airline Air Europa resumed flights to Tel Aviv on February 19. The Greek and French flag carriers, Aegean and Air France, both restarted flights to Tel Aviv in January.

Italy’s ITA Airways will resume flights between Tel Aviv and Rome from March 1, starting with three return trips weekly.

Brussels Airlines, the Belgian carrier, also announced on Wednesday last week that it will resume flights from March 24, with three flights per week from Brussels to Tel Aviv.

The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) also announced that the US-based Delta Air Lines will resume flights to Israel in May. Delta has not officially confirmed this yet, but the last update from the carrier said that flights will be suspended between New York and Israel until April 30.

Still, that’s only a fraction of the flights Israel used to attract before the war.

El Al

Which airlines do not plan to resume flights to Israel any time soon?

American Airlines has halted flights until October 28. Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines have also suspended flights to Israel until further notice.

TAP Air Portugal has suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv indefinitely, while Finland’s flag carrier, Finnair, announced it had cancelled its flights to Tel Aviv until October 29. Icelandair has cancelled flights to Tel Aviv, without any further update on its website.

Bulgaria Air cancelled all flights to and from Tel Aviv, also without providing details about a timeline to restart operations.

How has the war affected air travel in Israel?

The number of international travellers arriving in Israel by air rose from 19.2 million in 2022 to 21.1 million in 2023, the IAA reported on January 21.

In November 2023, however, the number of aircraft arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport was 68 percent lower than the same month the year before.

INTERACTIVE-ben_gurion

Fattal said that while 250 airlines had been operating in and out of Israel before October 7, the number dipped to just seven last December. It has since crawled back up to 45.

In the three-month period from October 7, 900,000 tourists had been expected to visit Israel. However, the Israeli daily Calcalist reported that only 190,000 people had actually visited.

Prior to October 7, more than 300,000 people visited Israel every month. In November 2023, that figure reportedly dropped to 39,000.

The number of travellers using Ben Gurion airport in November 2023 was 78 percent lower than in November 2022.

INTERACTIVE-ben_gurion-passengers

The tourism industry in Israel accounted for 2.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, before falling to 1.1 percent in 2021. Both foreign and domestic tourism in Israel have flatlined since the start of the war.

Which airlines have continued to fly to Israel throughout the war?

In December, when only seven carriers were flying to Israel, around 80 percent of passengers were carried by Israel’s national carrier, El Al, followed by smaller Israeli carrier Israir at 10 percent and FlyDubai at 3.2 percent.

With almost all airlines suspending and cancelling flights after October 7, El Al saw a 32.5 percent rise in passenger numbers to 5.5 million for 2023 at Ben Gurion airport, which has continued to operate throughout the war.

Delta Air to resume flights to Israel starting June 7

Delta airlines logo is seen inside of the Commodore Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Lincoln Feast.

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US locks in UN resolution backing efforts to broker Gaza truce

The U.S. on Thursday finalized its draft U.N. Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hamas war, traditionally the final step before asking for a vote on the text that would back international efforts to broker an immediate ceasefire as part of a hostage release deal.

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Israel has a new kind of wartime visitor, evangelical ‘voluntourists’

Evangelicals, long Israel’s among greatest supporters in the U.S. and abroad, are traveling there as war volunteers, providing extra hands for farms struggling to harvest. Propelled by faith, the “voluntourists” say they hope to show solidarity.

  • By Melanie Lidman Associated Press

March 14, 2024 | Tel Aviv, Israel

When Shawn Landis, an evangelical Christian from Pennsylvania, heard about the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel, he knew he would come to Israel to volunteer as soon as it was safe.

Five months later, he was chopping vegetables in a Tel Aviv kitchen, preparing meals for Israeli soldiers.

Evangelicals have been among Israel’s fiercest foreign supporters for years, particularly in the United States, where their significant political influence has helped shape the Israel policy of recent Republican administrations.

They believe Israel is key to an end-times prophecy that will bring about the return of the Christian Messiah. Many of these Christians support Israel due to Old Testament writings that Jews are God’s chosen people and that Israel is their rightful homeland.

“In the Scripture it instructs us to support Israel, and sometimes the best time to support someone is when they’re grieving,” said Mr. Landis, who has been on four previous faith-based trips to Israel. “Friendship is not just about being there for the good times, it’s also about the rough times.”

Mr. Landis is part of a wave of religious “voluntourism” to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the war in Gaza.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around one-third to half of the approximately 3,000 daily visitors expected to arrive in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Before the fighting, around 15,000 visitors arrived in Israel per day, about half of whom were Christian, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. In 2019, the latest tourism statistics available that were not impacted by COVID-19, about 25% of visitors arrived on organized trips, according to the Tourism Ministry.

A study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that almost half of Israelis volunteered in some capacity during the early weeks of the war. But many Israeli volunteers have returned to work and school, and now international visitors are filling the gaps.

In the U.S., support for Israel has become a top priority for evangelical Christians during a presidential election year. They are among the most outspoken backers of Israel’s handling of the conflict, and Republicans have faced pressure to hew not just to traditional Republican support for Israel but to beliefs rooted in the Bible.

The war began with Hamas’ attack in southern Israel in which militants killed around 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage. Israel responded with an invasion of the Gaza Strip that so far has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians.

On Oct. 11, dozens of leading evangelicals signed a statement of support for Israel organized by the public policy wing of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangelical faith group in the U.S.

One of the key pro-Israel groups in the U.S. is Christians United for Israel, founded and led by evangelical pastor John Hagee. CUFI says it has raised and dispersed more than $3 million to support Israeli first responders, health care workers, and survivors of the Oct. 7 attack.

Mr. Landis was part of a two-week volunteer trip organized by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. The evangelical group has put together five volunteer trips since January and expects to bring half a dozen more in the coming month. Normally, ICEJ brings about 6,000 Christian visitors to Israel annually.

Like Mr. Landis, Claudio Pichardo, a volunteer from Colombia studying business in Holland, was inspired by Scripture to join the ICEJ trip. “This is the best way I can help, because posting on Facebook doesn’t help,” he said.

When the war started, many international airlines suspended flights and tourism stopped, aside from a handful of Jewish and Christian solidarity missions. Some major airlines resumed flights to Israel in recent weeks, and others plan to soon.

Peleg Lewi, the foreign affairs adviser to the Tourism Ministry, said the faith-based solidarity missions boost morale. They can also kick-start overall tourism to Israel after a cycle of war or violence, he said.

With the war in its sixth month, Israel is under growing international pressure to do more to end the suffering of civilians in Gaza, including allowing in more aid. Aid groups say the fighting has displaced most of the territory’s population and pushed a quarter of the population to the brink of famine. Hospitals have reported that some children have died of hunger.

Many Israelis fear the world is forgetting about Oct. 7.

Elizabeth Ødegaard, a trip participant from Norway, said she was surprised by how emotional Israelis get when they meet international visitors who have come to support them.

“Many people tell us, ‘The whole world hates us. Everyone is against us,’ so I want to say to them, `You’re not alone,’” she said. “I know the people of Israel are important to God. These are my brothers and sisters, and when they attack Israel, they attack me, too.”

ICEJ trip participants visited hard-hit communities in southern Israel, including the site where the shells of hundreds of burned-out cars are being stored, many from the Tribe of Nova music festival, where 364 people were killed.

“It was humbling and sobering to be there, to know what happened a few months ago, and to see Israeli resilience,” said Mr. Landis.

During such trips, visitors join volunteer initiatives that sprang up in Israel over the past five months, providing extra hands for farmers struggling to harvest crops, cooking meals for families who have a parent serving in the reserves, or sorting donations for evacuees still living in hotels.

One initiative is Citrus & Salt, which previously hosted cooking classes and tours of Tel Aviv’s markets for tourists. When the war started, it pivoted to making more than 35,000 donated meals.

“It really helps boost morale for people to come from abroad to Israel in a time of conflict, to physically say, ‘I’m here to help. What do you need?’” said Aliya Fastman, a native of Berkeley, California, who has lived in Israel for over a decade and runs Citrus & Salt with her sister. “Chopping onions is no small thing when you fly across the world to do it.”

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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Delta will resume daily nonstop service to Tel Aviv (TLV) from New York-JFK this summer, operating the route on an Airbus A330-900neo that will provide customers with nearly 2,000 weekly seats from New York to Israel.

The decision to resume the route on June 7, 2024, which was temporarily suspended in October 2023, follows an extensive security risk assessment by the airline. Delta continues to closely monitor the situation in Israel in conjunction with government and private-sector partners.

In recent months, Delta has strengthened its presence in Israel through a codeshare arrangement with EL AL Israel Airlines. Delta customers have access to EL AL’s direct services to Tel Aviv from major U.S. cities like New York-JFK, New York-Newark, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. With the upcoming reinstatement of Delta’s New York-JFK service this summer, customers have additional travel choices connecting North America and Israel.

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Questions Persist as Israel Signals Support for More Aid for Gaza

Aid organizations and U.N. officials say the new efforts by land, air and sea are too small and inefficient to meet the enormous needs of Gazan civilians.

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A truck carrying plastic-wrapped cargo passing through concrete blast walls.

By Cassandra Vinograd

  • March 14, 2024

Israel’s military on Thursday said it supported new initiatives to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza by land, air and sea, just hours after the military’s chief spokesman said it was trying to “flood” the enclave with sorely needed aid.

Israel has endorsed three new aid efforts over the past week — a ship carrying food approaching the coast off Gaza; airdrops by foreign countries; and an initial convoy of six trucks crossing directly from Israel into northern Gaza, where aid agencies say hunger is severest, for the first time since Oct. 7.

The public signaling from Israeli officials follows increasingly urgent calls from the United States and other allies for Israel to do more to alleviate the humanitarian crisis wrought by its invasion. The United Nations has warned parts of Gaza are on the brink of famine.

Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israeli political analyst and a columnist at Haaretz, said that Israel is coming under pressure from all sides and that images emerging from Gaza of emaciated, starving children may have been “a tipping point” for policymakers. “There’s a limit to how much opprobrium Israel is willing to take and stand behind and say we are in the right,” she said.

Aid organizations and U.N. officials say the new efforts are too small and inefficient to meet the enormous needs of Gazan civilians. They have argued that it would be better for Israel to ease entry restrictions for trucks at established crossing points into the enclave, and do more to speed the delivery of goods inside Gaza.

Airdrops are ineffective and largely symbolic , these groups say, able to deliver just a fraction of the food that a truck convoy can haul. Setting up the infrastructure for aid deliveries by sea will be expensive and take time: U.S. officials have said that it could be weeks before a floating pier for maritime aid is up and running .

“Air and sea is not a substitute for land and nobody says otherwise,” Sigrid Kaag, the U.N. humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza, said last week.

But overland deliveries also face challenges that critics say Israel needs to try to address.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has damaged the roads that aid trucks travel on. Civil order has broken down. Desperate Gazans have looted and pulled food from trucks. Convoys have come under fire.

In addition, humanitarian agencies have said that stringent Israeli inspections have created bottlenecks for aid trucks at the two open crossings into the enclave, which are both in the south, far from the north where the greatest food shortages are.

Israel has insisted throughout the war that it is committed to allowing as much aid into Gaza as possible. and it has blamed delays on the U.N. staffing and logistics.

“The issue isn’t the scanning and delivery of aid to Gaza, it’s how much the U.N. can collect and deliver within Gaza,” Col. Elad Goren, an official at the Israeli agency that oversees policy for the Palestinian territories, known as COGAT, told reporters on Thursday.

The new aid efforts are not immune to some of the same logistical challenges. Israel has said it will continue to conduct strict inspections of supplies entering Gaza, arguing that Hamas could divert items for its use. Food being dropped by air or sea must still be distributed on the ground.

But Israel has appeared increasingly eager to demonstrate support for the initiatives. On Wednesday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited northern Gaza and viewed preparations for a new maritime humanitarian route, calling aid “a central issue,” according to a statement from the defense ministry. Then, the chief military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, told reporters that Israel plans to “flood” northern Gaza with aid and scale up entry points, The Associated Press reported .

On Thursday, the Israeli military posted videos and photos of airdrops and trucks entering northern Gaza, saying it “continues to expand its efforts to enable the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip” by air, land and sea.

Ms. Scheindlin, the political analyst, said it’s striking how “all of a sudden, humanitarian aid became important.”

One reason is “certainly” the American calls for Israel to do more to protect civilians, she said. There is also a recent interim ruling from the International Court of Justice hanging over Israel. The court ordered Israel to take steps to prevent its troops from committing genocide in Gaza and to increase the amount of humanitarian aid reaching the territory’s civilians.

“There is an awareness that the international community is watching,” she said.

Adam Sella contributed reporting.

An earlier version of this article misstated the title of Col. Elad Goren. He is an official at COGAT, not its head.

How we handle corrections

Our Coverage of the Israel-Hamas War

News and Analysis

​​Israeli officials heralded new initiatives  to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza by land, air and sea , but aid organizations said that the efforts  were inefficient and that they wouldn’t meet Gazans needs.

​​The Israeli military said that it had killed a senior Hamas operative  in an airstrike in southern Lebanon, the latest in a series of targeted killings there after the deadly Hamas-led attacks against Israel on Oct. 7.

​​Israel attacked an underground space  used by one of three leaders of Hamas in Gaza  who Israel says were the main planners of the Oct. 7 attack, adding that investigators were still analyzing the outcome of the strike.

A Somber Ramadan: Amid Israel’s continuing attacks in Gaza and rising violence, the holy month’s festive decorations and celebratory mood are being replaced by feelings of helplessness and despair  in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

A Strained Lifeline: The United Arab Emirates has maintained its links to Israel throughout the war in Gaza, but the relationship, built on a U.S.-brokered deal, is under pressure as anger against Israel grows .

Shifting Ties: Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority has long lived apart from the nation’s secular mainstream, but the war in Gaza has both widened that divide and, in some ways, helped to bridge it .

A Winding Path: The U.S. airman who lit himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington to protest the war had left an isolated Christian community for the Air Force before turning to leftist and anarchist activism .

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Evangelical Christians are fierce Israel supporters. Now they are visiting as war-time volunteers

In a lemon orchard in southern Israel, the volunteers provide extra hands for farmers struggling to harvest crops. Since the Israel-Hamas war began five months ago, evangelicals have been visiting Israel in growing numbers to volunteer and support the war effort. (AP Video: Alon Bernstein, Ami Bentov)

Elisabeth Odegaard poses for a portrait with necklaces as she prepares food for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Her visit to Israel is part of a wave of religious "voluntourism" to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel's Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Elisabeth Odegaard poses for a portrait with necklaces as she prepares food for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Her visit to Israel is part of a wave of religious “voluntourism” to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

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Dutch volunteers Anja van der Stok, left, and Jannie Slim, right, pick lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. Their trip is part of a wave of religious “voluntourism” to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Dutch volunteer Jannie Slim picks lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. Her trip is part of a wave of religious “voluntourism” to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Christian volunteers pick lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. Their trip is part of a wave of religious “voluntourism” to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Christian volunteers Anja van der Stok, left, and Jannie Slim, right, pick lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. Their trip is part of a wave of religious “voluntourism” to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Christian volunteer Connie Grace from Canada picks lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. Her trip is part of a wave of religious “voluntourism” to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Christian volunteers Elisabeth Odegaard, rear right, Claudio Rafael, left, and Jannie Slim, center, clean up after preparing food for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Her visit to Israel is part of a wave of religious “voluntourism” to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Christian volunteers prepare food for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Their visit to Israel is part of a wave of religious “voluntourism” to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Food made by Evangelical Christian volunteers for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Israel is seeing a wave of religions “volunteerism,” organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — When Shawn Landis, an evangelical Christian from Pennsylvania, heard about the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel, he knew he would come to Israel to volunteer as soon as it was safe.

Five months later, he was chopping vegetables in a Tel Aviv kitchen, preparing meals for Israeli soldiers.

Evangelicals have been among Israel’s fiercest foreign supporters for years, particularly in the United States, where their significant political influence has helped shape the Israel policy of recent Republican administrations.

Elisabeth Odegaard poses for a portrait with necklaces as she prepares food for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

They believe Israel is key to an end-times prophecy that will bring about the return of the Christian Messiah. Many of these Christians support Israel due to Old Testament writings that Jews are God’s chosen people and that Israel is their rightful homeland.

“In the Scripture it instructs us to support Israel, and sometimes the best time to support someone is when they’re grieving,” said Landis, who has been on four previous faith-based trips to Israel. “Friendship is not just about being there for the good times, it’s also about the rough times.”

Pramila Patten, right, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, addresses a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the war in Gaza, Monday, March 11, 2024, at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Landis is part of a wave of religious “voluntourism” to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the war in Gaza.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around one-third to half of the approximately 3,000 daily visitors expected to arrive in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Before the fighting, around 15,000 visitors arrived in Israel per day, about half of whom were Christian, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. In 2019, the latest tourism statistics available that were not impacted by COVID-19, about 25% of visitors arrived on organized trips, according to the Tourism Ministry.

Dutch volunteers Anja van der Stok, left, and Jannie Slim, right, pick lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. Their trip is part of a wave of religious "voluntourism" to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel's Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

A study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that almost half of Israelis volunteered in some capacity during the early weeks of the war. But many Israeli volunteers have returned to work and school, and now international visitors are filling the gaps.

In the U.S., support for Israel has become a top priority for evangelical Christians during a presidential election year. They are among the most outspoken backers of Israel’s handling of the conflict, and Republicans have faced pressure to hew not just to traditional Republican support for Israel but to beliefs rooted in the Bible.

Christian volunteers pick lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. Their trip is part of a wave of religious "voluntourism" to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel's Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Christian volunteers pick lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

The war began with Hamas’ attack in southern Israel in which militants killed around 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage. Israel responded with an invasion of the Gaza Strip that so far has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians.

On Oct. 11, dozens of leading evangelicals signed a statement of support for Israel organized by the public policy wing of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangelical faith group in the U.S.

One of the key pro-Israel groups in the U.S. is Christians United for Israel, founded and led by evangelical pastor John Hagee. CUFI says it has raised and dispersed more than $3 million to support Israeli first responders, health care workers, and survivors of the Oct. 7 attack.

Christian volunteers Anja van der Stok, left, and Jannie Slim, right, pick lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Landis was part of a two-week volunteer trip organized by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. The evangelical group has put together five volunteer trips since January and expects to bring half a dozen more in the coming month. Normally, ICEJ brings about 6,000 Christian visitors to Israel annually.

Like Landis, Claudio Pichardo, a 37-year-old from Colombia studying business in Holland, was inspired by Scripture to join the ICEJ trip. “This is the best way I can help, because posting on Facebook doesn’t help,” he said.

When the war started, many international airlines suspended flights and tourism stopped, aside from a handful of Jewish and Christian solidarity missions. Some major airlines resumed flights to Israel in recent weeks, and others plan to soon.

Christian volunteer Connie Grace from Canada picks lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. Her trip is part of a wave of religious "voluntourism" to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel's Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Christian volunteer Connie Grace from Canada picks lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Peleg Lewi, the foreign affairs adviser to the Tourism Ministry, said the faith-based solidarity missions boost morale. They can also kick-start overall tourism to Israel after a cycle of war or violence, he said.

With the war in its sixth month, Israel is under growing international pressure to do more to end the suffering of civilians in Gaza, including allowing in more aid. Aid groups say the fighting has displaced most of the territory’s population and pushed a quarter of the population to the brink of famine . Hospitals have reported that some children have died of hunger.

Many Israelis fear the world is forgetting about Oct. 7.

Elizabeth Ødegaard, a trip participant from Norway, said she was surprised by how emotional Israelis get when they meet international visitors who have come to support them.

Christian volunteers Elisabeth Odegaard, rear right, Claudio Rafael, left, and Jannie Slim, center, clean up after preparing food for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Her visit to Israel is part of a wave of religious "voluntourism" to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel's Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Christian volunteers Elisabeth Odegaard, rear right, Claudio Rafael, left, and Jannie Slim, center, clean up after preparing food for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

“Many people tell us, `The whole world hates us. Everyone is against us,’ so I want to say to them, `You’re not alone,’” she said. “I know the people of Israel are important to God. These are my brothers and sisters, and when they attack Israel, they attack me too.”

ICEJ trip participants visited hard-hit communities in southern Israel, including the site where the shells of hundreds of burned-out cars are being stored, many from the Tribe of Nova music festival , where 364 people were killed.

“It was humbling and sobering to be there, to know what happened a few months ago and to see Israeli resilience,” said Landis.

During such trips, visitors join volunteer initiatives that sprang up in Israel over the past five months, providing extra hands for farmers struggling to harvest crops, cooking meals for families who have a parent serving in the reserves or sorting donations for evacuees still living in hotels.

Christian volunteers prepare food for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Their visit to Israel is part of a wave of religious "voluntourism" to Israel, organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel's Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Christian volunteers prepare food for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

One initiative is Citrus & Salt, which previously hosted cooking classes and tours of Tel Aviv’s markets for tourists. When the war started, it pivoted to making more than 35,000 donated meals.

“It really helps boost morale for people to come from abroad to Israel in a time of conflict, to physically say, ‘I’m here to help. What do you need?’” said Aliya Fastman, a native of Berkeley, California, who has lived in Israel for over a decade and runs Citrus & Salt with her sister. “Chopping onions is no small thing when you fly across the world to do it.”

Food made by Evangelical Christian volunteers for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Israel is seeing a wave of religions "volunteerism," organized trips that include some kind of volunteering aspect connected to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel's Tourism Ministry estimates around a third to half of the approximately 3,000 visitors expected to arrive each day in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Prior to Oct. 7, around 15,000 visitors were arriving in Israel per day, according to Tourism Ministry statistics. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Food made by Evangelical Christian volunteers for Israeli soldiers on a brief respite from combat operations in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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travelling to israel

Department Press Briefing – March 14, 2024

Matthew Miller, Department Spokesperson

March 14, 2024

Article Index

  • SECRETARY BLINKEN’S TRAVEL
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
  • RUSSIA/UKRAINE
  • CONGRESS/ISRAEL
  • CARICOM/HAITI

1:35 p.m. EDT

MR MILLER: Good afternoon, everyone. Sorry to be late. I have a few things to start with, so I hope you’ll bear with me for a moment.

Starting with —

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR MILLER: Hi. Starting with – quite all right. Please continue. Starting with travel, Secretary Blinken will depart tonight for Vienna, Austria, where he will serve as head of delegation for the United States during the high-level segment of the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The Secretary will be working to build on the momentum of the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats that he launched last summer, and which now has 149 countries and 14 international organizations participating.

This administration has made it a top priority to address the fentanyl and synthetic drug crisis, and this will be the first time a U.S. secretary of state has attended a meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. While there, the Secretary will emphasize that illicitly manufactured synthetic drugs and their precursors pose a threat not just to the United States but to all nations. He will look to secure concrete commitments from countries to take domestic, regional, and international action to address synthetic drugs and their precursors, which are fueling the public health crisis both in communities across the United States and around the globe.

Secretary Blinken will also meet with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg during his time in Austria to reinforce our strong bilateral relationship. We are working together with the Government of Austria to meet humanitarian needs in Ukraine and ensure the integrity of EU Russia sanctions.

The Secretary will then travel to Seoul to participate in the third Summit for Democracy, led by the Republic of Korea. The summit will demonstrate how democracies continue to deliver for their citizens and organize to address the world’s most pressing challenges. The Secretary will also meet with Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and other Korean officials to discuss a broad range of regional and global issues during his time in Seoul, underscoring the unwavering strength of the more than 70-year U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance.

From there, Secretary Blinken will travel to Manila to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to our Philippine allies. He will meet with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo to discuss ways to advance economic prosperity, support clean and renewable energy development, and promote peace and stability in the South China Sea. The Secretary’s visit will also underscore the importance of our strong bilateral ties, which for 75 years have been critical to advancing our shared vision for a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.

Now, turning to Israel and the West Bank, extremist settler violence carried out with impunity in the West Bank has killed, injured, and threatened the livelihoods of countless Palestinian civilians. This violence risks destabilizing the West Bank and obstructs efforts to advance a pathway to peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians through a two-state solution. There is no justification for violence against civilians, no justification for forcing families from their homes.

In February, President Biden issued an executive order giving the State Department new authorities to impose sanctions on those responsible for undermining peace, security, and stability in the West Bank, and the department imposed sanctions on four individuals. Today, we are imposing further targeted sanctions on three Israeli individuals involved in undermining stability in the West Bank. We have also designated two associated entities referred to as farms. These West Bank outposts are owned or controlled by designated individuals, have acted as a base from which to launch violent acts, and are illegal even under Israeli law.

It is critical that Israel take additional action to stop settler violence and hold accountable those responsible for it, not just the sake – not just for the sake of the victims of this violence, but for Israel’s own security and standing in the world. But as we have made clear, the United States will continue to take its own actions to hold accountable those engaging in extremist violence and threatening the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank. This includes through actions like those taken today through the visa restriction policy announced by Secretary Blinken in December, under which the department has taken steps to impose visa restrictions on dozens of individuals.

Finally, the United States condemns Russia’s continuing efforts to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence through sham elections held in occupied Ukrainian territories. The United States does not and will never recognize the legitimacy or outcome of these sham elections held in sovereign Ukraine as part of Russia’s presidential elections. To be clear, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kherson, and Crimea are Ukraine. The results of these Potemkin-style exercises will be dictated by Moscow and cannot reflect the free will of the citizens of Ukraine who are being compelled to vote in them.

This spectacle only further demonstrates Russia’s blatant disregard for its obligations under international law. The United States will continue to use all available tools to hold accountable those individuals responsible for actions that undermine the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of free countries, including those who serve as election observers for the Kremlin’s sham elections in occupied parts of Ukraine. And with that, Matt.

QUESTION: Right. Thanks. So —

MR MILLER: But sorry, that was so long I only have time for two questions.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, I’ll —

MR MILLER: I was just kidding. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’ll put it all into one question then (inaudible) decide. I’ll start with the 75-year relationship with the Philippines. Are you including the period when the U.S. actually occupied and controlled the Philippines in that?

MR MILLER: I would have to go back and look at the exact history of that to give you a more precise answer.

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you would.

Okay, on Gaza, you have seen, I’m sure, Senator Schumer’s comments. I know that you can’t speak for the senator or any member of Congress, but is there a concern in the administration at all that these remarks are going to make it more difficult to deal with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government?

MR MILLER: No. Obviously Congress is an independent branch of government. I think the Government of Israel understands quite well how the U.S. Government works. They interact frequently not just with members of the Executive Branch but with members of Congress, including Senator Schumer, who has traveled to Israel a number of times over the years. And I’m sure they fully understand that he speaks for himself. He’s obviously someone we’re in close contact with, but it’s not a statement from the Executive Branch.

QUESTION: Well, fair enough, except that there are members of the Executive Branch who have said roughly similar if not exactly the same thing over the course of the last several months. And so I think there is a suspicion out there that Senator Schumer was putting out publicly what had been being said privately.

MR MILLER: No, that is not the case.

QUESTION: No? Absolutely not?

MR MILLER: Those are – these are statements made by Senator Schumer, not by the Biden administration.

QUESTION: Okay, so there’s no frustration in the administration with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government?

MR MILLER: Look, there are – there are a number of things that we want to see Israel do differently; we’ve made that quite clear. I’ve said it from this podium, as you know, a number of times, and we have that quite clear in direct conversations with the prime minister. But I don’t have anything beyond that.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks.

MR MILLER: Gillian.

QUESTION: Haiti is okay?

MR MILLER: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: You told us Tuesday, Matt, that you did not have an estimate on Americans trapped on the ground inside the country. Wondering if you have any information now on Americans there, also if there’s any plans to evacuate or otherwise help those who are.

MR MILLER: So I don’t have an estimate of how many Americans are on the ground in Haiti. That’s always a difficult information – always difficult information for the State Department to have a precise number on because most Americans when they travel to a country – and certainly one like Haiti where we have close ties and there are people that go back and forth – they don’t register with the United States, they don’t register with our embassy to tell us that they are there. So it’s impossible for us to know for sure. There are several hundred Americans who have registered to receive more information when we can provide it to them, and we of course do provide that information to them. But that’s different than an overall number, which is – as is the case in most parts of the world, we just aren’t able to offer an estimate.

With respect to your second question, we always plan for all sorts of contingencies. But no, we are not planning for any – we are not actively planning for any evacuation. And I would remind you and others that Haiti has been a Level 4 country with respect to our Travel Advisory since 2020. So what that means is for four years we have been telling Americans do not go to Haiti; do not travel there, it’s not safe to do so; and for those who are there, leave as soon as you can feasibly do so without putting yourself at risk.

QUESTION: So you don’t anticipate – or put it this way, so no plans to evacuate as of now? Do you anticipate there may be some support for evacuation for those few hundred or however many there are who want to get out?

MR MILLER: We will always provide information to American citizens that reach out to us when we can do so. For example, if there’s information about the operations of the airport that becomes available, we’ll make that known to Americans who reach out to us. But we are not actively planning for any evacuation, no.

QUESTION: One last question, if I may. With the few hundred million dollars of new aid money that’s going to make its way to Haiti, does State have I guess guardrails in place to prevent any of that funding falling into the hands of these gangs that are now controlling the government building?

MR MILLER: So let me – just to be clear – and I’m going to make sure I answer your question correctly – let me talk about the different types of aid and assistance that we are providing. So first of all, there is $33 million that the Secretary announced on Monday in humanitarian assistance that we are providing to help alleviate the humanitarian situation on the ground. And we always have guardrails in place, we always have monitoring programs in place to ensure that that money is used effectively.

There is an additional $300 million that the United States is providing to support the Multinational Security Support Mission that Kenya will be launching in the coming days and weeks, which is a separate – a separate question from humanitarian assistance. And that is money that will be provided in some cases in kind through transfers of equipment, in some cases through provision of logistics, in some cases through direct financial support. But that is to the Government of Kenya to support the Multinational Support Mission, not to the Government of Haiti or entities on the ground in Haiti.

QUESTION: Can you do the top-line numbers? What, so total 330 direct from the U.S. and then 300 —

MR MILLER: Different – there’s 300 – it is two different things: $300 million in support for the Multinational Security Support Mission; $200 million of that is from the Pentagon; $100 million is from here. Separate and apart from that, not supporting the MSS Mission but supporting humanitarian assistance efforts, is the $33 million that the Secretary announced on Monday.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) back to Israel for a second.

MR MILLER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Gaza’s health ministry said today that six Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded in Israeli fire on crowds of residents waiting for aid trucks in Gaza City. Have you raised this with the Israelis? And do you have any information on this?

MR MILLER: So I don’t have any information on this specific report. I just saw it today. I can tell you that this is the type of thing that we often raise with the Israelis, both to seek out more information and to make clear that we want to see effective deconfliction measures taken. We want to see them take steps to minimize civilian causalities; we want them to take steps to see that aid is effectively distributed to Palestinian civilians who need it and in no way jeopardized.

QUESTION: And then just further on aid, the Secretary said yesterday when talking about the maritime corridor that it demands tremendous coordinating among donor countries. Is this for the U.S. military effort or the commercial maritime option?

MR MILLER: This is with respect to the effort the President announced in the State of the Union, the effort that we are launching with – through the United States military and with which we are coordinating with other countries. And as you’ve heard us say, we are working through what that will look like right now, and part of the purpose of the Secretary’s ministerial meeting yesterday was to talk through exactly how we get that mission off the ground.

QUESTION: And sorry, just quickly on the settler sanctions, what effects do these sanctions have on the farms? I realize it cuts them off from like the U.S. financial system. But like how will this impact their operations?

MR MILLER: So I won’t speak to how – what the exact impact will be on their direct operations, but I can tell you what the – how the sanctions will be imposed and how they will be enforced. So for both the individuals we sanctioned today and the two entities, any property that they have in the United States or in United States financial accounts is blocked. They no longer will have access to it, and they no longer have the ability to transact with the U.S. financial system. And then on top of that, any entities that transact with the United States financial transaction system – which, of course, is most entities in the world, banks and other entities – put themselves at risk of further sanctions and further enforcement activities from the United States if they transact with these farms and with these entities.

So what we’ve seen when we announced our first round of sanctions under this new executive order last month is in Israel, Israeli banks freezing the accounts of the four previously designated individuals. And I won’t make any predications what will happen going forward, but I know that every entity around the world takes these sanctions very seriously.

QUESTION: And why go ahead with them now? Is it because there’s not been progress in talks for a temporary ceasefire?

MR MILLER: This is completely independent of the ongoing effort to achieve a temporary ceasefire and release of the hostages. We continue to pursue that. There continues to be ongoing work inside the United States Government and with our partners in the region to try to achieve an agreement. But this work is independent of that.

We have made clear for some time that we wanted to see Israel take additional action to, number one, stop extremist settler violence and, number two, hold those responsible for it accountable. And we made clear that if we didn’t see sufficient steps, we were ready to take action. And that’s why you saw us first impose visa bans in December. Next, the President issued this executive order in February, and now us continuing to add designated entities to the list of those that we have sanctioned. And I will just say this is an area where we are going to continue to remain vigilant. And if additional actions are appropriate, we will not hesitate to take them.

QUESTION: On Israel. Thank you, Matt. I just wanted to follow up on something that Matt raised. Separately from Senator Schumer’s remarks, there was this week released an unclassified American Intelligence Community assessment that indicated that Israel was likely to face lingering armed resistance from Hamas for years to come, that its military would struggle to secure the tunnel systems in Gaza. And it also said that the viability of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s leadership and coalition may be in jeopardy. Do those assessments comport with this department’s view of the situation? And if so, is the department going to reach for partners other than Netanyahu in its diplomatic efforts?

MR MILLER: So a few things about that. Number one, with respect to any assessment offered by the Intelligence Community, I’m going to defer to the Intelligence Community to speak to those. That’s true here; it’s true with respect to any other intelligence assessment that they offer publicly.

I will say that we have always made clear to Israel that it is important that they have not just a short-term tactical plan or a short-term plan to win the initial conflict, but that they have a long-term plan for dealing with the issues raised in this war, that they have a plan for governance in Gaza after the initial fighting stops, that they have a plan for security in Gaza after the fighting stops. Now, we have been working with Arab partners in the region to develop such a plan that would deal with security, that would deal with reconstruction, that would deal with a political path forward for the Palestinian people. And we have made it clear to Israel that these are incredibly important issues that they need to take seriously.

QUESTION: And on the question of – first, let me ask – let me just push you on the intelligence front, because the State Department has its own intelligence arm in INR. So did the assessment draw an objection from within this building? Was there a differing view from within this building?

MR MILLER: I am not going to speak to internal intelligence matters. I never would do. And you shouldn’t – yeah, you should —

QUESTION: It’s an unclassified assessment.

MR MILLER: I know, but you shouldn’t read that any – anything into it, other than it’s just a blanket rule that I’m going to talk to that. Obviously, we coordinate with others in the Intelligence Community, but this is an assessment offered initially by the DNI. And I’m not going to speak to the internal deliberations that went into it.

QUESTION: So you want to address the Netanyahu’s coalition being potentially in jeopardy assessment view?

MR MILLER: I just don’t have any comment on it from here.

QUESTION: Just as an additional – I mean, unnamed officials as a result of these assessments within Israel have accused the U.S. Government of trying to oust the prime minister. Do you care to respond to those —

MR MILLER: So with respect to that, I would say that this is an Intelligence Community assessment, similar to assessments that the Intelligence Community offers from time to time not about Israel but about countries all around the world. It has nothing to do with trying to take a position in internal Israeli matters or take a position in internal Israeli politics. We do not have a position on that. Who leads the Government of Israel is a matter for the Israeli public to decide, just as it is a matter for the residents of any country to decide with respect to the leadership of their country. We deal with the elected prime minister. We will always deal with the elected leadership of Israel. That will always be our policy.

QUESTION: Okay. One last one on hostage talks, because you mentioned there was ongoing work. Is it the case that the stakeholders surrounding the talks are just waiting for a response from Hamas, or is there a revised offer being put on the table?

MR MILLER: I’m not going to get into any level of detail, other than to say that there continues to be an offer on the table to Hamas – as you heard the Secretary say when he was at this podium yesterday – that we think they should accept.

QUESTION: Just —

MR MILLER: And welcome back. I know the Secretary said it yesterday, but from me welcome back.

QUESTION: Thank you. Appreciate it. It’s good to be here. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I do have one more question on —

MR MILLER: No, you’re not.

QUESTION: — the Netanyahu remarks, specifically, what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. I understand that you’re not going to talk about if you guys coordinated or anything like that. The White House did say that they were given a heads-up ahead of those remarks, but —

MR MILLER: No, I said we did not coordinate. We were given a heads-up, but we did not coordinate.

QUESTION: Okay. But he did – he called for a new election in Israel. Can you just clearly say if the administration agrees that this is time for a new election or not in Israel?

MR MILLER: That is just not a position that we have taken.

QUESTION: So you won’t take a position either way as to —

MR MILLER: There’s —

QUESTION: — if you agree with those remarks or not.

MR MILLER: No, they are remarks that he made, and he – as I said, Congress is an independent branch of government.

QUESTION: But do you think that Prime Minister Netanyahu is in strong standing right now as the leader of Israel?

MR MILLER: I’m not going to – I am not going to offer any type of assessment of that. He is the elected prime minister of Israel.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MR MILLER: Yeah. Said, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, Matt. Very quickly on the Netanyahu-Chuck Schumer thing. I know Congress is a separate entity and so on, but do you agree that Mr. Netanyahu is an obstacle to peace when it comes to the two-state solution, considering that he said that time and again?

MR MILLER: I, once again, am just not going to offer any independent assessments about the Government of Israel. I think I’ve made that fairly clear. I will make clear what our positions are with respect to a two-state solution. We have made that very clear for some time. But with respect to assessments about the Government of Israel, that’s not something I’m going to do from this podium.

QUESTION: All right. And now Israel says it plans – it’s been reported that Israel – in fact, it was reported by AP that Israel plans to direct Palestinians out of Rafah ahead of anticipated offensive. Is that really acceptable? I mean, every – are they a herd of cattle? You keep moving them north, south, and so on? You keep moving them from place to place? You’re going to put them in – like they call them “human islands” and so on?

MR MILLER: So —

QUESTION: Is that really acceptable to the Government of the United States?

MR MILLER: So I saw the comments. What I have yet to see and what our government has yet to see is a plan from the Government of Israel. So before I pass any sort of judgement, we are going to continue to do what we have said we would do, which is look for the Government of Israel to provide a plan about how they would address the humanitarian situation in Rafah. Absent having seen such a plan and seeing that such a plan is credible and can be executed and implemented, that type of operation is not one that we could support. But while we saw the comments at a press conference, that’s a different from a plan, and we’ve yet to see a plan.

QUESTION: Yeah. But in principle, I mean, the notion of moving people like this – keep moving them endlessly. I don’t know for how long. Maybe this war will take another six months and so on. Is that something that you – that’s fine with you?

MR MILLER: So – with respect, I will wait to see a plan.

QUESTION: Let me ask you on UNRWA, if I may. Can I ask you one more?

MR MILLER: Yeah, of course.

QUESTION: Okay. Yesterday, it was struck, and the Secretary mentioned that an UNRWA warehouse or whatever was struck and one person was killed. Now, it has also been reported that Israel is planning or has begun, in fact, to dismantle – I asked you about this a couple days ago – to dismantle UNRWA not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank.

Now, would the United States come out and say, look, we will have whatever punishment fit the crime; if there are – if it’s proven that members, staff members of UNRWA had participated in the October 7 attack then we will hold them accountable on that level, but you will continue – you make a commitment to continue to keep aiding UNRWA?

MR MILLER: So, Said, I do appreciate your continued insistence that I put the cart before the horse and pass judgment on matters that remain open and on which we have not yet been provided the information we said we would have to have before we could pass judgment. But I – just as I would not pass judgment with respect to a Rafah plan that we have not seen, I’m not going to pass judgment on the outcome of an investigation that is still ongoing.

What I will do is make clear what our principles are, which is that we think the allegations against UNRWA need to be investigated thoroughly. They are being investigated. We are waiting for the outcome of that investigation, but none of that changes the fact that right now UNRWA plays a critical role on the ground in distributing humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians. And we will await, with respect to our funding decisions, the outcome of that investigation before we make further ones.

QUESTION: But you have been, all along, since its creation, you have been the major supporter of UNRWA. UNRWA would probably be – find it difficult to continue without U.S. support. Why can’t the U.S. say, we will continue to support? You keep saying —

MR MILLER: Because we – because there is an investigation that is ongoing into very serious allegations, and we want to see what that investigation finds.

QUESTION: Can I ask on that.

QUESTION: Could I just follow up?

MR MILLER: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. Two questions: a follow-up on Said’s and a second question. But the UN said – and I’m just going to quote just to be accurate. So the UN said that the number of children reported killed in just over four months in Gaza is “higher than the number of children killed in four years of wars around the world combined.” That is a quote from the UN. So what will the U.S. do to make sure that this statistic is not going to get worse in the next few months?

MR MILLER: So first of all, it is an almost unspeakable tragedy, the number of children that have died. It is an unacceptable outcome of the fighting of the past five months. And you heard the President speak to this over the weekend. We don’t want to see another child die. We didn’t want to see any children die, obviously, and that’s why we have been engaged with the Government of Israel to make clear that they need to do everything possible to minimize civilian casualties and why it’s – we have made clear that with respect to any operation in Rafah, we need to see a credible and executable humanitarian assistance plan before we can support one going forward.

QUESTION: Okay. On UNRWA. Correct me if I’m wrong, but basically the U.S. is holding any funds or resuming the funds until the results of the investigation is concluded. Is that correct?

MR MILLER: That’s correct.

QUESTION: Okay. According to my information of talking to UN officials, they are saying basically that Israel never provided an evidence to show these 12 members are involved. And therefore, as long as Israel does not provide this evidence, the investigation is still open and can be open for years to come. So in a way, they are indicating it could be a political, actually, accusation more than an actual one, and even if it’s an actual one, it can be political. So where do we go from there, because following up with everything else that was said, UNRWA was created to cater for Palestinian refugees only, and the Israelis has always showed their contempt to UNRWA. And now, they’re saying that 12 members were involved without giving any evidence. My understanding is they gave only oral —

MR MILLER: All right, so let me —

QUESTION: — oral – orally they conveyed the message, but no evidence.

MR MILLER: So a few things about that. So number one, I can’t speak for the United Nations with respect to its investigation. Only they can do so, obviously. But they have communicated directly to us that they have the ability to conduct a thorough investigation into this, and we have confidence in their ability to do that, especially with respect to former French – the former French foreign minister with whom the Secretary has a longstanding working relationship. And we have confidence in their ability to investigate these allegations.

But second of all – and maybe even more importantly – I think you have to remember why we made our decision to pause funding in the first place. It was not because of allegations that the Government of Israel brought to us. We hadn’t heard from the Government of Israel about these allegations. It was about allegations that UNRWA brought to us. And when they brought us these allegations, they told us that they had investigated them and found them to be credible, and that’s why they had taken action to fire the employees in question.

So I don’t know what your sources refer to with respect to the inability to get further information, but when we made our initial decision to pause funding – not a final decision, but initial – it was because UNRWA had come to us and told us they found these allegations to be credible, they had conducted an initial investigation, and they had taken action.

So that seemed to us to be a pretty credible source. Not allegations from Israel, but UNRWA itself saying these allegations were serious enough to take action. But with respect to the ongoing investigation, we do have faith in their ability to get to the bottom of what happened.

QUESTION: Sure, I really appreciate it. Just, like, finally, I really want to get to the bottom of this because, again, my understanding that UNRWA reported as a credible information just because a member-state of the UN, which is Israel, reported it, not because they found a credible evidence.

MR MILLER: That – that is not – that is not —

QUESTION: Because a member-state, and they have to investigate.

MR MILLER: That is not what was communicated to the United States when they first brought it to us. But let me just come back to a broader question, which is something Said said, which is the United States has been the largest funder of UNRWA since – I don’t know if it’s since the beginning, but certainly going back for decades we have been the largest funder of UNRWA. We are the largest funder of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. That commitment on behalf of the United States to continue funding humanitarian assistance remains, and you can count on it from this administration.

And you don’t just have to look at my words standing here at the podium, you don’t just have to look at what Secretary Blinken said when he was here yesterday, but look at the budgets that President Biden has submitted to Congress. In the supplemental budget that is pending right now in Congress, we have requested billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance that would be used to deliver food and water and medicine to the Palestinian people, and that’s because we believe it’s important. In the budget that was – request that was just submitted to Congress on Monday by this administration, we requested billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance to deliver items to the Palestinian people that they desperately need.

So yes, there is a question with respect to UNRWA because of these allegations that UNRWA deemed credible and took action on, and because of the ongoing investigation. But when it comes to our commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, there should be no question, because we have put our money where our mouth is.

Alex, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, Matt. A couple of questions. I want to go back to your opening statement on Russian sham elections. You said —

QUESTION: Can we stay in —

MR MILLER: Yeah, let’s stay in the – let’s stay in the region.

MR MILLER: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Sorry (inaudible) Alex.

MR MILLER: We’ll come back to you.

QUESTION: Yeah. On the maritime corridor, Matthew, for how long will it be set in Gaza? And then, will it help in evacuating Palestinians from Gaza or its main goal is only to bring in aid to Gaza?

MR MILLER: So the primary purpose of this maritime mechanism is to deliver humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people in Gaza. With respect to specific questions about how it will operate, what it will do, I would refer to the Department of Defense, which is the lead agency. It is a military – it is intended as a military mechanism at this time, being operated by the military to deliver humanitarian assistance. We are playing a diplomatic role in helping get it off the ground and secure support from allies and partners. But with respect to its specific operations, I would defer to the Pentagon.

QUESTION: And secondly, on reports that the Palestinian president intends to appoint his economic advisor, Mohammad Mustafa, to the post of prime minister. Do you support such an appointment?

MR MILLER: I don’t have any comment on those reports. We have not seen them take an official action, so I wouldn’t comment on speculative reports.

QUESTION: And I have one more question on Iran, but maybe after.

MR MILLER: We’ll go – let’s – we’ll finish up Israel and then we can do the broader region.

Go ahead, if this is Israel-related. Yeah, you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR MILLER: Sorry, I know – yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah. Well, happy Pi Day to all who celebrate. Question one is about the children in Gaza. Thousands of kids have been killed in Gaza. There’s reports of crippling mental health conditions among all Palestinians, kids no less – kids as young as five saying that they want to take their own lives. If a child in Gaza is still alive at this point, their development and education has been interrupted, their homes destroyed, their families and friends killed. So I’m wondering how the U.S. is thinking about supporting these kids who are still alive? And then secondly, I’m wondering if there’s any concern that this war may actually foment an entire generation to see Israel – and by virtue of its aid, the U.S. – as more negatively and as entities to resist? As in, is there a fear that this war and this suffering might make harmony more – harder to achieve?

MR MILLER: So let me speak first to the impact on children, which obviously is a tragedy for those who have lost their lives and their family members. And I’m sure it will have dramatic impacts to those who do survive this war. And it’s one of the reasons we are trying to achieve a humanitarian ceasefire that would alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, including children. I know that it’s important to everyone here, especially to the – especially to all of us who have our own kids and think about them when we see what happens in Gaza. And so we are going to continue to try to pursue it and achieve that kind of ceasefire, because it would be important to alleviate that suffering. In the long term – longer term, we will continue to try to get humanitarian assistance in to help the Palestinian people rebuild their lives.

And then with respect to the broader question, so I would say if you look at the testimony that the Director of National Intelligence gave the other day to Congress, she spoke quite directly on this issue, and I would refer you to her comments with which – and would on behalf of the State Department wholeheartedly endorse them.

QUESTION: And then on the investigations – we’ve talked about before – it’s the allegations of Israel killing journalists, of people like Hind Rajab, her family, the medics sent to save her; allegations now of torture and sexual abuse. On these and more, the U.S. often defers to Israel to investigate and checks in periodically. But for how much longer will the U.S. continue to defer to Israel given that they kind of continue to reportedly commit the same violations? To put a finer point on it, our colleague in the front row’s question on attacks on food lines. After the attack two weeks ago where at least a hundred people were killed and nearly 800 were injured waiting for food. Since then, Israeli forces have reportedly killed more than 400 Palestinians in food lines since that attack. So I know that that attack is being investigated, but how much longer can we keep sort of deferring as these violations continue to keep happening?

MR MILLER: So I will say with respect to any matter, we want to see it investigated, we want to see it investigated promptly, and, if appropriate, see accountability. And that’s what we will continue to press the Government of Israel to do, but that’s not the only thing we do when it comes to these questions. We also press them to take measures to keep it from happening again. And in some areas, we have seen improvements; in other areas, there is clearly more work to be done. But it does come back to this – this thing we have talked about before, which is the difficulty of operating in this environment where Hamas continues to use Palestinians as human shields.

So I will just say with respect to the strike that Israel took yesterday that has reportedly killed an UNRWA worker, so the IDF put out a statement on that today and said that they were targeting a Hamas terrorist. And they’ve released video that they claim shows the death of a Hamas terrorist that they were specifically targeting who has been stealing humanitarian assistance intended for innocent civilians and diverting it to Hamas and diverting it to the terrorists who not only killed more than 1,200 Israelis on October 7th and killed American citizens on October 7th and not only continue to hold hostages, including American citizens, but continue to put Palestinian civilians in harm’s way, and who could at least for six weeks end this conflict today by accepting the ceasefire proposal that’s on the table.

So it is a very difficult environment in which Israel operates. That no way alleviates their need to minimize civilian casualties. And what I can tell you is that we will continue to press them to do everything they can to minimize civilian harm.

MR MILLER: Go ahead, and then we’ll come to you, Alex.

QUESTION: On Palestinian children. So on Tuesday a 12-year-old Palestinian child, Rami, was killed by an Israeli officer, police officer in East Jerusalem. He was lighting fireworks in front of his family home, playing with his brother and his friends. And Israeli National Security Minister Ben-Gvir praised the police officer who shot Rami as a hero and called the 12-year Palestinian boy a terrorist. What is your reaction to this?

MR MILLER: It’s hard to – hard to know how to react to that specific comment. I will say that no child just out doing what a child does should be put in harm’s way and should see their life put at risk. No child out playing should be harmed in any way. And I can tell you this is a matter that we will seek information about the Government of Israel —

QUESTION: You haven’t yet – raised this with the Israeli Government yet?

MR MILLER: We may have. I wasn’t aware of this report until you raised it to me right before the briefing. I haven’t had a chance to talk to our embassy. But I can tell you if we have not, we will.

QUESTION: And I mean, we know that Israel is – heard from the news that Israel is investigating this, but how can we believe that Israel will investigate itself impartially when its national security minister calling a child (inaudible)?

MR MILLER: So it is important that we watch these investigations and hold them accountable, that the Israeli press watch them and ask questions, and that the rest of the world’s press watch them and have questions. And this goes back to something you have heard me say before, that Israel is a democracy where the free press can ask questions, where citizens can demand that their government do better and perform better, and where the rest of the world can interact with them and ask those very same questions. And that’s what we will do on behalf of the United States and would encourage others to do it as well.

All right, Alex, we’ll finally come to you.

QUESTION: Thanks so much. It’s been an eventful week, so I understand. Back to your opening statement on Ukraine-Russia, you said the United States does not and will never recognize the outcome of sham elections. Context matters – of course you’re talking about Ukrainian sovereignty here – but how much of this questions Putin’s legitimacy in your opinion?

MR MILLER: So I think it very clearly shows that he disrespects international law. And as I said, there is no legitimacy with respect to his claims for Ukraine, either the territory where they are holding these sham elections right now or the rest of Ukraine where he continues to have designs.

QUESTION: But in terms of the election that Putin is running this time, United States will not recognize Putin as an elected president next week? Is that (inaudible)?

MR MILLER: Look, I think when it comes to the elections in – the elections in Russia, first of all, the Russian people deserve free and fair elections and the ability to choose among candidates representing diverse views. They deserve access to impartial information. If you just look back at what we’ve seen over the past few weeks, we saw the Kremlin’s leading critic, Aleksey Navalny, die in custody following years of harassment and abuse. We’ve seen the Russian Government attack one of his longtime aides, and we’ve seen them continue to deny anti-war candidates’ registration on spurious grounds and deprive – to deprive Russian voters of genuine choices. So we have seen the Russian Government, not just over the past months in the lead-up to this election but of course for years, crack down on the ability of Russian civil society to operate, the ability of independent journalists to exercise their legitimate rights, and, of course, the ability of the Russian citizens to speak clearly. And we will watch the election, and I’m sure we’ll have plenty to say when it concludes.

QUESTION: Yeah. As for attack that you’re referring to, Lithuania’s counterintelligence said that they assess that the Kremlin was behind it, Russian intelligence service carried out this attack. Is that your understanding?

MR MILLER: I don’t have any comment on here – from here. I’m happy to take it back and see if we have anything further.

QUESTION: Sure. I also was hoping —

QUESTION: Switch topic.

MR MILLER: I’ll come to you next.

QUESTION: I also was hoping you could help us understand the state’s —

MR MILLER: One more, then I’ll go —

QUESTION: Yeah, thanks so much – the State’s role in the latest aid package for Ukraine. The President signed a memorandum the very same day that you guys put out 300 million for Ukraine, and he directed the Secretary to furnish up to 126 million from the FAA for Ukraine. Is it a separate package? Are you guys working on it or is it going (inaudible)?

MR MILLER: Let me take that back and get you an answer on it.

QUESTION: Okay. So on Monday, CARICOM meets, comes up with this plan for a presidential council in Haiti. It’s now Thursday. Is the council being stood up?

MR MILLER: My understanding is that just in the last few hours a number of the entities that will – that – that will comprise the transitional council have submitted their names, and so we will continue to work with CARICOM and work with our international partners and work first and foremost with Haitians themselves on trying to pursue a path to a return of democracy and free and fair elections in Haiti.

QUESTION: Not surprisingly, there is some objection from some parties, particularly in Port-au-Prince, setting aside the armed groups that have essentially taken control of the city. What efforts is the United States taking on to try to get people to buy into this transitional process?

MR MILLER: So a few things about that. First of all, I – what we saw Monday was dozens of Haitian individuals, representatives of political organizations in Haiti, civil society groups, being willing to make concessions and being willing to make compromises to try to restore stability and set the path to free and fair elections. And we think that’s appropriate and think that it’s something that all political figures in Haiti should do to try to move past the current crisis.

But with respect to your question about what the United States is trying to do, I think it is a mistake – I’m not – I don’t – not trying to quibble with you – it’s a mistake to look at this as what the United States will do, because ultimately this is a matter for the Haitian people to decide, and the Haitian people and Haitian leaders need to be front and center in making decisions about their country. What we will do is work with Haitian leaders and work with CARICOM leaders and work with our other international partners to do everything we can to offer support for Haitians in making those concessions and trying to get on the path to democracy.

And separately but equal – but important to this political pathway, we will support the multilateral – Multinational Security Support Mission because it is critical to restoring security on the ground, and without security it’s going to be very hard, if not impossible, to hold free and fair elections.

QUESTION: Is there a concern in this building that momentum might be ebbing because we’re now 72 hours past this situation?

MR MILLER: No —

QUESTION: And what happens if, for whatever reason, the names that have been put forward are rejected? What is the plan B?

MR MILLER: So first of all, I’m not going to discuss hypotheticals and what might happen. I would never do that with respect to anything, as we’ve – as others in this room have heard me say for the last few days when I’ve gotten other hypothetical questions. But no, not a concern about momentum ebbing. There were always going to be – this was always going to be a political process that required people to make compromises and people to make concessions. As you just heard me say, just in the past few hours we’ve seen a number of names submitted for this presidential transitional council. We want to see it get off the ground as soon as possible. We want to see an interim prime minister appointed as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Thank you. Couple questions on Iraq. The U.S. sanctions waiver to Iraq expires in the coming weeks. I’ve learned that this administration renewed that waiver to the – Iraq that could pay to Iran. In the past few waivers, Iran get monies from Iraq in euros, not in Iraqi dinars. Have you renewed that waiver to Iraq? And why are you allowing Iraq to pay Iran in euros?

MR MILLER: So first of all, with respect to which currency it’s paid in, I don’t know or have any understanding of which currency. With respect to the waiver itself, yes, we did issue this waiver, and I would emphasize, as you’ve heard me before, that these are waivers that have been regularly issued to Iraq going back to 2018 under a previous administration. This is now the 21st time that this particular waiver has been issued. And it’s important to realize how this money has been used.

Number one, that no money is permitted to enter Iran under the terms of this waiver. All of these funds are held in restricted accounts and they can only be used for transactions for the purchase of food, medicine, medical devices, agricultural products, and other non-sanctionable transactions. And that it is part of our broader goal to wean Iraq off of dependence on Iran for the provision of electricity, because that’s what these waivers – as I know you know – what these waivers relate to, which is that Iraq continues to have to get its electricity from Iran.

Iraq has been making real progress on its path towards energy sufficiency since 2020. It has cut its imports of Iranian energy by more than half. Over the last decade, it has doubled its own electricity generation. And we will continue to work with them and support them as they try to become energy independent.

QUESTION: And this week – and this week, four members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary Yellen and Secretary Blinken on that issue, and they speak of the nature of that transactions. They mentioned that these transactions are fungible, that these transactions are fungible. So don’t you think that you are – keep maintaining the financial lifeline for Iran and that Iran just continues to keep supporting those groups that you listed in FTO?

MR MILLER: Not at all, and we’ve addressed this in the past. Not only is it not our assessment that that’s not what – how this money is used, but it’s not what we have seen during the provision of this waiver in the past. And again, this is not just a decision that has made – been made by this Secretary. It is a decision that was made by a previous secretary appointed by a previous president in the administration immediately preceding ours.

What we have seen – and this is borne out time and time again – is that Iran is always going to fund terrorism. It’s always going to fund destabilizing activities – that is the first item it commits to when Iran is going through whatever budget process it is that Iran goes through – and that this money helps the Iranian people, because it can only be used for humanitarian purposes and other non-sanctionable goods. In other words, it is additive money that would otherwise not be spent to address the Iranian people’s legitimate needs as opposed to the Iranian Government’s illegitimate purposes.

And with respect to those illegitimate activities by the Iranian Government, you have seen this administration respond to those. We have imposed sanctions on more than 500 Iranian entities since the outset of this administration. We have held Iran accountable for its support of terrorism and its funding of dangerous proxy groups around the region, and we’ll continue to do so.

Guita, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thanks, Matt. Talking about the Iranian people, you may recall the results of the UN factfinding mission on the suppression – the government suppression of the protests which basically said, in most cases, crimes against humanity had been committed. Now the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, based on that report, is urging the Biden administration to support a UN Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court.

Given what you just said about support for the Iranian people and holding the government accountable, would the Biden administration consider this proposition seriously as a means to that end of holding the regime accountable?

MR MILLER: So the UN factfinding mission did document extremely concerning human rights abuses, which it concluded may amount to crimes against humanity. We strongly support the resolution under consideration at the UN Human Rights Council that renews mandate – renews mandates for the factfinding mission and the special rapporteur on human rights in Iran for another year.

And with respect to the other question, I don’t have anything to announce today.

QUESTION: Okay. Another – somewhat in the same light, the Iranian Government has also been persecuting athletes. Now with the upcoming Olympics in Paris, Senator Marsha Blackburn has written to the International Olympic Committee and asked them to – not to allow the Iranian team in. Any comments on that? Would – do you think that’s another way of possibly holding the Iranian regime accountable?

MR MILLER: So we certainly agree that Iran’s ongoing human rights abuses are horrific. As I just said, we saw the UN factfinding mission’s conclusions with respect to possible crimes against humanity. I don’t have anything to announce with respect to the Paris Olympics today, but we continue to look at and pursue numerous ways to respond to the Iranian regime’s abuse of its citizens.

MR MILLER: Go ahead, and then —

QUESTION: Sir, U.S. congressional committee holding its hearing next week on the fairness of Pakistan’s elections. Assistant Secretary Donald Lu has been asked to testify before the committee. What was your reaction on the announcement of this hearing, and will it – will its findings have any impact on U.S.-Pakistan relations?

MR MILLER: So with respect to the hearing, any number of State Department officials testify all the time before Congress. We see it as an important part of our jobs to help Congress do its job, both from a policymaking perspective and from an oversight perspective. So we always look forward both to the informal conversations we have with Congress, the formal conversations, and of course the actual testimony that our officials provide.

QUESTION: Sir, as you know the former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his supporters allege that Assistant Secretary Donald Lu tried then to destabilize his government during the March 2022 meeting with the Pakistani ambassador. And according to media reports after his allegations, Imran’s allegations, a few members of his party sent some threatening messages to Mr. Donald Lu. So I’m – those members might be – may be – because it’s an open hearing, they might be there. So do you have any concerns on security of Mr. Donald Lu in that hearing?

MR MILLER: So first of all, with respect to the underlying allegations against Assistant Secretary Lu, they’re false. They’ve always been false. You’ve heard me say that more than once, more than twice, more than ten times probably. Of course, we take any threats towards U.S. officials seriously and condemn any effort to threaten the safety and security of our diplomats. Do —

QUESTION: One last question.

MR MILLER: Yeah, go ahead. One more.

QUESTION: Sir – thank you, sir. Sir, India has implemented a controversial citizenship law that has been widely criticized for excluding Muslims, established – establishes a religious test for migrants from every major South Asian faith other than Islam. Sir, do you have any comments on this in relation to discussion about religious freedom?

MR MILLER: So we are concerned about the notification of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act on March 11. We are closely monitoring this act – how this act will be implemented. Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law for all communities are fundamental democratic principles.

Daphne, and then we’ll stop for the day, wrap for the day.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to the waiver quickly? It’s the waiver allowing Iraq to pay Iran for electricity, right —

MR MILLER: It is – it —

QUESTION: — that was issued?

MR MILLER: It’s a simplification of it, but it is – the way it works: Iraq has been importing electricity from Iran. It doesn’t pay it – Iran – directly for that electricity. It deposits money into these restricted accounts, and then we issue these waivers. It allows the money in that – those accounts to be used for humanitarian and other non-sanctionable purposes, but the money itself doesn’t actually move from Iraq to Iran.

QUESTION: Right. And then was it issued for another 120 days?

MR MILLER: Yes.

MR MILLER: It’s the standard period.

MR MILLER: All right. Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:27 p.m.)

U.S. Department of State

The lessons of 1989: freedom and our future.

IMAGES

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COMMENTS

  1. Latest Information for U.S. Citizens

    U.S. citizens should heed the Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. The U.S. Embassy continues to closely monitor the dynamic security situation in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. There are active military operations and active rocket and mortar fire in Gaza and the Gaza periphery. Terrorist groups, lone-actor terrorists and ...

  2. Updated FAQs Regarding New Israeli Travel Procedures for U.S. Citizens

    By phone ( for denial of entry only ): U.S. citizens may call the Embassy at the phone numbers on our website: U.S. Citizen Services - U.S. Embassy in Israel (usembassy.gov) ( +972-2-630-4000) You may also wish to contact the auditor for the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority at [email protected] to report discrimination at an airport ...

  3. Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza International Travel Information

    Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.

  4. COVID-19 Update: Israel Travel Rules & Guidelines

    While travel to Israel has returned to normal, the airport experience at Israel's international airport, Ben Gurion Airport, is still more complex than it was before COVID-19. Travelers have reported much longer waiting times than usual, and trouble with public transport once leaving the airport. As of summer 2022, it's recommended to get ...

  5. COVID-19 Information

    The de facto authority Ministry of Health in Gaza is administering vaccinations. For information on public medical services, including vaccinations, you may contact the local health authorities by dialing 103 or 1800 444 666. By U.S. Mission Israel | 3 December, 2021 | Topics: Alert | Tags: COVID-19.

  6. All the information you need to know before traveling to Israel

    Israel has closed its borders to all tourists until December 13th, 2021 due to the new Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. Only citizens of Israel and specific visa holders are allowed entry to Israel. For the latest information on tourist entry requirements, please visit the Israel Ministry of Health's Covid-19 website.

  7. Everything You Need To Know About Entering and Exiting Israel

    Declaration at Customs. You must declare if you are carrying 50,000 shekels (just shy of $14,000) or more when entering or exiting Israel by air and, if entering or exiting by land, you must declare if you are carrying 12,000 shekels ($3,350) or more.

  8. Faq

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    Because Israel is the Jewish State, expect busy travel times around major Jewish holidays like Passover and Rosh Hashanah. The busiest months tend to be October and August, so if you're going to visit at either of these times make sure to start the planning and hotel reservation process well ahead of time.

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    Rugelach - a rolled cake-like cookie made with chocolate and cinnamon. Halva - a sesame-based Arab dessert made with tahini paste, you can find it at any major outdoor market. You should tip in restaurants. Tipping isn't as generous as in the US, but 10-15% is a typical amount to tip in restaurants in Israel.

  15. Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Travel Advisory

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    4. Food is suppose to be kosher. Food has rules in Israel as far as that counts for religious people. You will often find restaurants stating that they offer 'kosher' food, which basically means they stick to the rules of the religion, It is something like Halal food for Muslims. Main rule is: don't mix dairy with meat.

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    Now, turning to Israel and the West Bank, extremist settler violence carried out with impunity in the West Bank has killed, injured, and threatened the livelihoods of countless Palestinian civilians. This violence risks destabilizing the West Bank and obstructs efforts to advance a pathway to peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians ...