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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution due to the threat of terrorist attack and rocket fire. Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime and anywhere.
  • Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime and anywhere in Israel. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. See Safety and security.
  • Wherever you travel, make sure you study emergency procedures and know how to respond to air raid sirens. Identify the location of the nearest emergency shelter. See Safety and security.
  • Avoid all protests, demonstrations and political rallies as they may turn violent. See Safety and security.
  • Monitor the media and other sources for information about unrest and possible new or emerging security risks. Avoid trouble spots. See Safety and security.
  • If there is a heightened security alert, you'll likely encounter increased security forces on the streets, additional roadblocks, vehicle inspections and heightened scrutiny of individuals and their belongings. See Safety and security.
  • Take official safety and security warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • There is a particular threat of rocket attack and other violence in the region bordering Egypt. Recent security incidents have resulted in deaths and injuries. The security situation could further deteriorate at any time. See Safety and security.
  • There is a heightened threat of rocket attack, artillery and small arms fire in the region bordering Lebanon and Syria. Violent incidents are frequent. The security situation could further deteriorate at any time. See Safety and security.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to all parts of the Golan Heights to the east of Route 98 near Syria, due to the threat of terrorist attack and the activities of militants on the other side of the border. Occasionally artillery and small arms fire from Syria land in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, most recently in June 2017. See Safety and security.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the West Bank, including Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah, due to the unpredictable security situation. See Safety and security.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to any part of the Golan Heights to the east of Route 98 near Syria, due to the threat of terrorist attack and the activities of militants on the other side of the border. Artillery and small arms fire from Syria have landed in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, including most recently on 24 and 25 June 2017.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to areas of Israel within 5kms of the border with the Gaza Strip due to the threat of rocket attack. See Safety and security.
  • Do not travel to the Gaza Strip due to the dangerous and unpredictable security situation. Exiting the area is very difficult and unpredictable. The capacity of the Australian Government to deliver consular assistance to Australians in Gaza, is extremely limited. See Safety and security.
  • If you have called for, or belong to an organisation which has called for, a boycott of Israel or Israeli settlements, you may be denied entry to Israel. See Entry and exit
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

If you are travelling to Israel for a period of less than three months and you are travelling on your Australian passport, you may not need a visa. For longer stays, you'll need to arrange a visa in advance.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as security checks and currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Visit the Israel Government Portal or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Israel for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

Everyone seeking to enter Israel, the Gaza Strip or the West Bank is subject to security and police record checks by Israeli authorities and may be refused entry or exit without explanation. You may also be subject to lengthy questioning and bag searches by security officials on arrival and departure.

Israeli authorities have advised that travellers who arrive with the intention of protesting Israeli policies (including as part of flotillas) may be refused entry to Israel and returned to their country of embarkation on the next available flight.

On 6 March 2017, the Israeli Parliament passed a law giving Israeli officials authority to deny entry to foreign nationals who have called for, or belong to organisations which have called for, a boycott of Israel or Israeli settlements.

The Australian Government is unable to intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements.

Travellers are given an entry card instead of an entry stamp on arrival. Keep this card with your passport until you leave. The card is evidence of your legal entry into Israel and may be requested by authorities during your stay.

Travel restrictions

Israeli authorities may impose travel restrictions on some visitors to Israel and the West Bank. The Israeli authorities have not provided clear information about which categories of travellers can expect to be subject to these restrictions.

Visitors entering Israel via the Allenby Bridge crossing who indicate they are planning to travel to the West Bank may have their passports stamped 'Palestinian Authority Only'. If your passport receives this stamp, you will be restricted to West Bank destinations and prevented from entering Israel and Jerusalem. Check which stamp you receive. Airport officials may require you to sign a form that prohibits you entering the West Bank. The Australian Embassy has limited ability to intervene in these situations.

The Gaza Strip

Exiting the Gaza Strip is difficult and unpredictable. There are only two land crossings into and out of Gaza (Erez, controlled by Israel, and Rafah, controlled by Egypt). Both may be closed or access highly restricted for extended periods, and both may refuse exit for certain individuals. You may not be able to exit the Gaza Strip even if you are in possession of valid entry and exit permits. The ability of the Australian Government to intervene is extremely limited.

The Erez crossing into the northern Gaza Strip from Israel is controlled by Israeli authorities. You must have permission from the Israeli authorities to use the Erez crossing, which may be closed or access highly restricted for extended periods. The Israeli authorities rarely grant permission for individuals to depart Gaza through Erez crossing, and the Australian Government is unable to influence the granting of approval or times when the crossing will open. Australian-Palestinians holding a Palestinian ID and/or passport can contact the Palestinian General Authority of Civil Affairs for assistance.

You must receive permission from Egyptian authorities to enter and exit the Gaza Strip using the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Regulations and restrictions governing the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip are subject to change. People who enter the Gaza Strip through this border crossing must leave the same way. The crossing may open or close at short notice. Once the crossing is closed, it is impossible to enter or leave the Gaza Strip through this crossing. You may be delayed in the Gaza Strip for an extended period (possibly months) while waiting for approval to return to Egypt and for the crossing to open. The Australian Government cannot influence the granting of approval by Egyptian authorities or times when the crossing will open.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception.  If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

By law, you must, as soon as possible:

Money

The currency of Israel is the Israeli Shekel. ATMs are widely available throughout the country. Australian dollars can be converted into shekels in major centres. 

Declare cash of USD10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you are travelling in or out of Israel. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and traveller's cheques. If you fail to declare your cash or give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, Israel, you could be arrested/fined.

Safety and security

Since September 2015, there have been a number of incidents of violence, terrorist attacks and unrest across Israel. Tensions remain high with a further spike in incidents in September/October 2016 and July 2017. Further incidents are likely.

Civil unrest and political tension

There is a high threat of civil unrest in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the security situation could deteriorate without warning.

Planned and spontaneous protests and demonstrations can turn violent. International events and political developments may prompt protests and demonstrations.

There are regular demonstrations and attacks on vehicles if being driven on the Sabbath (see under Local customs) in and around ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods and in East Jerusalem. Israeli security forces monitor large gatherings and may intervene.

There is an increased risk of violent confrontation at checkpoints, where options to leave the area can be limited. Australian officials have been advised to avoid traffic congestion at checkpoints.

There were a number of violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in July 2017. Tensions remain high and further incidents are likely.

During the most recent military confrontation in July-August 2014, over 4,000 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Any further conflict between Hamas and Israel would significantly increase risks to travellers' safety and security.

During military operations, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) may declare an area a closed military zone. Any civilians found in the area in breach of these orders can be arrested, detained in prison and, where considered appropriate, deported.

Municipality websites maintain lists of public bomb shelters and other emergency preparedness information. The Israel Defense Force's Home Front Command website also provides information on preparedness and on how to respond to rocket attacks.

  • Avoid any demonstrations, political rallies and large public gatherings (including funerals).
  • Monitor local media and other sources for advice of possible unrest and avoid those areas.
  • Be particularly vigilant during Jewish and Muslim religious holidays, such as Rosh Hashana, Ramadan and Pesach.
  • Avoid traffic congestion at checkpoints.
  • In each place you stay, familiarise yourself with emergency procedures and how to respond to air raid sirens, including knowing the location of the nearest emergency shelters.
  • If you are caught up in military action or civil disorder, follow the instructions of local authorities. Unless instructed otherwise, remain indoors and monitor the media.

Gaza Strip and surrounding areas (including waters off Gaza)

Do not travel to the Gaza Strip because of the extremely dangerous and unpredictable security situation and the potential for further Israeli military operations.

There was conflict between Hamas and Israel in Gaza in July-August 2014. The conflict could resume at any time without warning. Some international media representatives have been prevented from departing Gaza.

Large, sometimes violent, demonstrations and threats to Western interests have occurred in the Gaza Strip. Foreign nationals have been injured. In the past, a significant number of foreign nationals have been kidnapped.

Do not travel by sea to the coast of the Gaza Strip. Israel has a naval blockade in place. Do not participate in any attempt to break the naval blockade. The Israeli Navy routinely patrols territorial waters and a contiguous zone. Attempts to breach the naval blockade along the coast of Gaza have resulted in the injury, death, arrest and deportation of foreign nationals, including Australians.

Reconsider your need to travel to areas of Israel within 5 kilometres of the border with the Gaza Strip due to the threat of rocket attack. This includes the cities of Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be'er Sheva.

The Australian Government has extremely limited capacity to provide consular assistance to Australians in the Gaza Strip. If you are caught up in military action or civil disorder, remain in a secure location indoors and monitor the media for information.

West Bank

Reconsider your need to travel to the West Bank (including but not limited to Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho and Ramallah), due to the unpredictable security situation. Do not enter closed military zones, even where these have been in place for an extended period such as in the old city of Hebron.

There are ongoing tensions and violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Stone-throwing and other violent incidents are common, particularly around settlements and military checkpoints. Tensions can arise at short notice and violence occurs in areas frequented by tourists. There is a particularly high rate of violence in and around the Hebron area.

Since Israeli military operations in Gaza began in July 2014, protests occurred in several parts of the West Bank. There is a threat of further violent protests, particularly in areas near checkpoints. Large, sometimes violent, demonstrations have occurred in the West Bank. Foreign nationals have been injured.

Israeli authorities may close crossings to the West Bank on local holidays and in response to security incidents. Israeli security operations take place in the West Bank and can include military incursions.

Strict security measures have frequently been imposed following terrorist actions, and the movement of Palestinians (including dual nationals who are Australian passport holders) has been severely impeded.

If you are in the West Bank and are caught up in military action or civil disorder, remain in a secure location indoors and monitor the media for information. In such situations, contact the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv immediately. See Where to get help.

Israel's borders with neighbouring States

Cross-border political tensions and unrest create security risks for regions of Israel close to its borders with Lebanon, Egypt and Syria.

There is an ongoing threat of rocket attack, infiltration attempts, retaliatory fire and other militant activity along the 1949 Armistice line of separation between Israel and Lebanon (known as the 'Blue Line'). In December 2015, rockets were fired from Lebanon into the western Galilee region. There have also been isolated instances of kidnappings of Israeli soldiers. There is a significant military presence in the area. The security situation could deteriorate without notice.

Recent security incidents in the southern city of Eilat and the surrounding area near the Gulf of Aqaba (including the border crossing with Egypt near Eilat) have resulted in deaths and injuries. There is also a threat of rocket attack in this area.

Reconsider your need to travel to all parts of the Golan Heights to the east of Route 98 due to the activities of militants in Syria. There has been sustained conflict on the Syrian side of the border since 2014 and cases of kidnapping near the border. Parts of Route 98 are sporadically closed due to fighting on the Syrian side of the border. Occasionally artillery and small arms fire from Syria land in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, most recently in June 2017.  

Terrorism

Israel's proximity to armed groups in surrounding territories makes it an ongoing target for terrorism. Attacks could occur anywhere, at any time. Border areas with Lebanon, Syria and Egypt are a particular concern. Local and international political developments and events may prompt terrorist attacks.

Recent attacks include:

  • On Friday 14 July, three assailants opened fire at Israeli police officers near Lions Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, killing two and wounding a third.
  • On 8 January 2017, four soldiers were killed in an incident involving a truck-ramming in Jerusalem.
  • On 9 October 2016, one civilian and one police officer were killed in a drive-by shooting attack near a light rail station in East Jerusalem.
  • On 8 June 2016, a terrorist attack killed four civilians in central Tel Aviv.
  • On 18 April 2016, an explosive device was detonated on a bus in south Jerusalem.

In the past, terrorists have also attacked buses, public transport hubs and areas visited by tourists, such as the Old City in Jerusalem and Jaffa and Dizengoff Streets in Tel Aviv. Many people, including foreigners, have been killed or injured in terror attacks in Israel. There have also been a number of violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in suburbs of East Jerusalem, and in parts of the West Bank.

Other possible targets of future terror attacks include security personnel and checkpoints, clubs, restaurants, bars, cafes, internet cafes, fast food outlets, hotels, schools, markets, places of worship, shopping areas and malls, theatres, outdoor recreation events, pedestrian precincts and promenades, and tourist areas, including historical sites.

Due to safety and security concerns, Australian Government officials and dependants have been advised not to use public transport, except taxis, in Israel.

Militant and terror groups operate in regions of Egypt, Syria and Lebanon close to Israel, making travel close to Israel's borders with those countries dangerous. There have been several attacks against foreigners, including kidnappings. See Egypt, Syria, Lebanon

Minimise risks:

  • In planning your activities, consider the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided.
  • Be alert to possible threats, especially at tourist locations, religious sites and crowded public places, near police checkpoints and in regions bordering Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.
  • If you travel to or near a region where terrorists are active, or a place that could be targeted by terrorists, take appropriate precautions and have an exit plan for if there is a security incident.
  • Avoid public transport, except taxis.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Regularly check local and international media for news about any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so. 

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information:

Crime

Purse snatching, pick-pocketing and petty theft can occur.

Theft from vehicles is a growing problem, particularly in beachside areas. Australians have reported thefts from unattended vehicles near tourist sites.

Violent crime (other than terrorism and politically-motivated violence – see above) is rare.

Local travel

Your decisions on travel around Israel, West Bank and the Gaza Strip should take account of the general security situation and specific risks to your safety and security in different locations.

 

Safety standards

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities, are not always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed.

If you plan to participate in adventure activities, first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. Don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.

Road travel

Security checkpoints may be set up or closed at any time, often without warning, throughout Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. You could encounter delays or difficulties passing through checkpoints.

Israeli car insurance does not usually cover travel into Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, such as Bethlehem, Jericho or Ramallah. Separate insurance can often be arranged for travel to these areas.

More information: Road travel

Driver's licence

You can drive in Israel for up to a year with a valid Australian driver's licence.

Motorcycles

Under Israeli law, you must wear a helmet at all times when riding a motorcycle, including when travelling as a passenger.

  • check that your travel insurance policy covers you when travelling by motorcycle;
  • only ride a motorcycle if you are properly licensed and are familiar with – and comfortable in – local driving conditions.

Taxis

Taxis are generally safe and reliable.

Public transport

Take particular care when using public transport in Israel. Due to safety and security concerns, Australian Government officials and dependants have been advised not to use public transport, except taxis, in Israel. See Safety and security.

Sea travel

Do not travel by sea to the coast of the Gaza Strip. See Safety and security.

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Israel.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences include lengthy jail terms and heavy fines. More information: Drugs

Other laws

Travel documents such as passports and visas (or copies) must be carried at all times as proof of identity.

It is illegal to photograph police and military personnel and buildings and places considered security-sensitive, such as military installations and some government offices.

The importation of religious materials for the purpose of preaching is not permitted in Israel. Such items are likely to be confiscated.

Under Palestinian law, the death penalty may be imposed for offences including treason, assisting an enemy and deliberate killing.

Islamic law applies in the Gaza Strip, including a prohibition on the consumption of alcohol and homosexual acts. See LGBTI travellers.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Under Israeli law, you are considered to be Israeli if one or both of your parents are Israeli.

Israeli citizens are required to enter and leave Israel on an Israeli passport.

Israel has military service obligations that apply to both males and females. Australian/Israeli dual nationals may be required to undertake military service. If you are unsure of your military service obligations, consult the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Israel before you travel.

Australians of Palestinian background who are, or who once were, holders of a Palestinian ID card are considered by both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to be Palestinian nationals while in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip or Israel. If you are considered to be Palestinian, you may be required to obtain a Palestinian travel document. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of Israel for up-to-date information on entry and exit requirements for Australian/Palestinian dual nationals.

Our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Israeli and Australian/Palestinian dual nationals who are detained or arrested may be limited.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

Familiarise yourself with local and religious customs and take care not to offend.

Public displays of affection are frowned on at religious sites in Israel. Observe appropriate standards of behaviour if you are visiting Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods. In the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, public displays of affection may cause offence.

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour at holy sites in Jerusalem and in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Exercise judgement when photographing people in Muslim and Orthodox Jewish areas. Ask permission before photographing individuals.

The Shabat or Sabbath (from sunset Friday until sunset Saturday) is closely observed in Orthodox Jewish areas in Israel. During this time of rest, driving and using electricity is restricted. In Orthodox neighbourhoods, driving of cars or use of mobile phones and digital cameras on the Sabbath is likely to cause offence. Public access to these neighbourhoods is usually restricted on the Sabbath and you should not attempt to drive into them.

Unmarried couples (including same sex couples) are not permitted to live together or share hotel accommodation in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.

During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting.

More information: Ramadan 

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor. Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

Take with you prescription medicines to cover you for your entire stay so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only. 

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases can occur (including West Nile fever, brucellosis, leptospirosis and leishmaniasis) with more serious outbreaks occurring from time-to-time.

  • In rural areas, boil all drinking water or drink bottled water. Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.

Seek medical advice if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities in Israel is high. Facilities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are generally below Australian standards.

A decompression chamber is located at Joseph Tal Hospital in Eilat.

Doctors may require up-front payment before commencing treatment and costs can be expensive.

If you become seriously ill or injured in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation could be very expensive.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Fire: 102
  • Medical emergencies: 101
  • Criminal issues: contact the police on 100. Alternatively, tourist police are available on (+972 3) 516 5382. 

Always get a police report when reporting a crime. 

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact:

Australian Embassy, Tel Aviv

Level 28
Discount Bank Tower
23 Yehuda Halevi Street (corner Herzl Street)
Tel Aviv 65136 ISRAEL
Telephone: (972 3) 693 5000
Facsimile: (972 3) 693 5002
Website: israel.embassy.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in Israel

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

Australian Representative Office, Ramallah

7th floor
Trust Building
48 Othman Ben Affan Street
El Bireh Ramallah WEST BANK
Telephone: (972 2) 242 5301
Facsimile: (972 2) 242 8290

Website: ramallah.mission.gov.au

Check the website of the Australian Representative Office for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the Embassy or Representative Office in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Israel and the Palestinian territories are located in an active earthquake zone.

Flash floods can occur in the Judean Hills and Negev desert in winter months (November to March).

Sand and dust storms occur during the warmer months, as do bushfires.

If there is a natural disaster:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • closely monitor the media, other local sources of information and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities.

More information:

Additional Resources