Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Yes, but you can obtain at the port of entry
Polio vaccination up to 1 year before travel is recommended. See Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements below and our Polio Fact Sheet
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
71 Hayarkon Street
Tel Aviv Israel 63903
Telephone: +(972) (3) 519-7575
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(972) (3) 519-7551
Fax: +(972) (3) 516-4390, or 516-0315
Contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy for information and assistance in Israel and the Golan Heights, at the ports of entry at Ben Gurion Airport, Haifa Port, the northern (Shaykh Hussein) and southern (Arava) border crossings connecting Israel and Jordan, and the border crossings between Israel and Egypt.
The Embassy also has a consular agent in Haifa at 26 Ben Gurion Boulevard, telephone (972) (4) 853-1470. The consular agent can provide both routine and emergency citizen services in the northern part of Israel. After normal working hours you can contact him via the Embassy.
U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem
14 David Flusser,
Telephone: +(972) (2) 622-7230 or +(972) (2) 630-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(972) (2) 622-7250
Fax: +(972) (2) 630-4070
Contact the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem for information and assistance in the following areas: Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.
The State of Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a modern economy. In 1994, negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank, there is a division of responsibilities between the government of Israel and the PA that is complex and subject to change. PA security forces are responsible for keeping order in those areas where the PA exercises security functions. In Gaza, Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, violently took control in 2007 and exercises de facto control there. Tourist facilities are widely available with certain exceptions, particularly in Gaza. Travelers may visit the websites of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism for tourist information. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Israel for additional information. Information about embassies and consulates in surrounding countries is available at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates. Official guidance on entry, customs requirements, arrests, and other matters in the West Bank and Gaza is subject to change without prior notice.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
The general entry and exit requirements for U.S. citizens traveling to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are listed below. The U.S. government seeks equal treatment and freedom to travel for all U.S. citizens regardless of national origin or ethnicity. However, dual Israeli-American nationals are treated as Israelis at the port of entry and U.S. citizens who are or may be Palestinian–American dual nationals are treated as Palestinian nationals at the port of entry (see below for further information on entry by Palestinian nationals). U.S. citizens who encounter difficulties at the port of entry are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv or the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem by e-mail or at the numbers above.
Security Screening: U.S. citizens are advised that all persons entering or departing Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza are subject to security screening and may be denied entry or exit without explanation. U.S. citizen visitors have been subjected to prolonged questioning and physical searches and have been denied access to consular officers, lawyers, and family members.
Despite the legality of missionary activities, the Israeli Ministry of Interior has denied entry to some travelers on the suspicion that they seek to proselytize, although officials may cite another reason, such as disturbing the peace. Members of religious groups have been monitored, arrested, and deported based on complaints that they have engaged in unauthorized missionary work. U.S. citizens suspected of being participants in planned political protest activities or of supporting NGOs that are critical of Israeli policies are also frequently denied entry. Travelers unable to clearly explain their purpose of travel in Israel and/or the West Bank have been denied entry and barred from return for as much as ten years by border officials.
Anyone indicating at a port of entry that he or she has connections to the West Bank or plans to travel to the West Bank may be given an entry stamp that permits travel only in the West Bank. This stamp does not permit the bearer to enter Jerusalem or Israel. Travelers who have received such a stamp may file an appeal with the Government of Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) at Beit El, Ramallah. The relationship between the stamp and visa extensions is discussed below.
Those with extensive travel to Muslim countries or U.S. citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin may face additional questioning by immigration and border authorities. U.S. citizens of similar background who are suspected of wishing to enter those areas deemed prohibited to them by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) may be required to sign an agreement stipulating that they will refrain from entering those areas.
Video cameras and other electronic items must be declared upon entry to Israel. Carrying such audio-visual or data storage/processing equipment may lead to additional security-related delays, and some travelers have had their laptop computers and other electronic equipment searched at Ben Gurion Airport. While most items are returned prior to the traveler’s departure, some equipment has been retained by the authorities for lengthy periods and has reportedly been damaged, destroyed, lost, or never returned. U.S. citizens who have had personal property damaged due to security procedures at Ben Gurion may contact the Commissioner for Public Complaints at the airport for redress by phone at (972) (03) 975-2386 or by fax to (972) (03) 975-2387.
Israeli security officials have also on occasion requested access to travelers’ personal e-mail accounts or other social media accounts as a condition of entry. In such circumstances, travelers should have no expectation of privacy for any data stored on such devices or in their accounts. Audio-visual/IT equipment may also be confiscated for security reasons. Such property will not be returned to the traveler. There is no redress for such confiscations.
U.S. citizens who feel they have been wrongly denied entry to Israel or the West Bank or have been treated unfairly may contact the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem or the ACS unit of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Israeli-Americans: Israeli citizens naturalized in the United States retain their Israeli citizenship, and children born in the United States to Israeli parents usually acquire both U.S. and Israeli nationality at birth. Israeli citizens, including dual nationals, must enter and depart Israel on their Israeli passports.
Dual nationals who do not have an Israeli passport, including infants, may be required to obtain an Israeli passport in order to leave the country. Israeli citizens, including dual nationals, are subject to Israeli laws requiring service in Israel's armed forces, as well as other laws pertaining to passports and nationality. Israeli-American dual nationals of military age, including females, who do not wish to serve in the Israeli armed forces should contact the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, to learn more about an exemption or deferment from Israeli military service. They should obtain written confirmation of military service exemption or deferment before traveling to Israel. Without this exemption or deferment document, such dual nationals may not be able to depart Israel without completing military service or may be subject to criminal penalties for failure to serve.
Israeli citizens, including dual nationals, are currently not permitted to enter Gaza and are generally restricted from traveling to parts of the West Bank under PA control (“Area A”). Contact the Israeli Ministry of Interior or your nearest Israeli embassy or consulate for more information on dual citizenship, passport requirements, and travel restrictions for Israeli citizens.
Palestinian-Americans: The Government of Israel considers travelers who hold PA IDs, as well as persons believed to have claim to a PA ID by virtue of ancestry, to be Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza, regardless of whether they also hold U.S. citizenship. Israeli authorities consider anyone who has parents or grandparents who were born or lived in the West Bank or Gaza to have a claim to a PA ID.
Palestinian nationals, including dual nationals, are required to enter the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan (also known as the King Hussein Bridge) using a PA travel document, rather than via Ben Gurion International Airport, unless they have obtained advance permission from an Israeli embassy or consulate on humanitarian or emergency grounds. Even if permitted one-time entry via Ben Gurion Airport, these individuals are required to depart via the Allenby Bridge. Upon arrival at any of the ports of entry, such persons may wish to confirm with Israeli immigration authorities from where they will be required to depart. Many Palestinian nationals or dual nationals seeking to enter via Ben Gurion have been sent back to the United States upon arrival. Others have been allowed to enter Israel but told they cannot depart Israel via Ben Gurion without special permission, which is rarely granted. Some families have been separated as a result and other travelers have forfeited expensive airline tickets.
Palestinian-American dual nationals may depart at the Allenby crossing between Jordan and the West Bank using either a PA passport with no exit permit or a PA ID card together with an exit permit. Such individuals may also re-enter from Jordan using a PA ID card and a valid U.S. passport, if that is how they departed. If they departed using a PA passport they are expected to return using a PA passport.
Palestinian-American residents of Jerusalem are normally required to use laissez-passers (travel documents issued by the Israeli government) that contain re-entry permits approved by the Israeli Ministry of Interior for travel via any border crossing except the Allenby Bridge. U.S. citizen residents of Jerusalem who hold blue Jerusalem ID cards may have the Ministry of Interior re-entry stamp placed in their U.S. passports for travel in and out of Israel. Jerusalem ID holders who hold residency or citizenship elsewhere may encounter problems retaining their Jerusalem residence status.
Entering Israel: For non-dual nationals, an onward or return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required for entry. Although the Israeli government does not require that a passport be valid for six months from the date of entry, airlines routinely do so and may decline boarding if a traveler has less than six months validity on his or her passport. Travelers normally receive a free, three-month tourist visa upon arrival in Israel, which may be extended. Israel no longer stamps passports with an entry stamp, but instead provides all travelers with an entry card, although they reserve the right to stamp the passport. All travelers should retain this entry card throughout the duration of their stay in Israel as it is their proof of lawful entry. Although not required for exit, travelers are advised to have their entry card to avoid delays when departing Israel. Travelers carrying official or diplomatic U.S. passports must obtain visas from an Israeli embassy or consulate prior to arrival.
Anyone who has previously been refused entry, has experienced difficulties with his/her status during a previous visit, has overstayed the authorized duration of a previous visit, or otherwise has violated the terms of a previous admission to Israel should consult the nearest Israeli embassy or consulate before attempting to return. Such immigration violations may incur a 10 year bar to re-entry into Israel.
Jerusalem ID holders seeking returning resident status must obtain permission from Israeli authorities before traveling. The Government of Israel at times has declined to admit U.S. citizens wishing to visit, work, or travel to the West Bank or Gaza whom they suspect of being intending immigrants there. Persons denied entry have the right to an immigration court hearing to contest the denials, but they will likely be detained for the duration of the proceedings.
Minors: Israel does not require minors traveling with one parent to have written consent from the other parent to either enter or depart Israel.
Entering the Gaza Strip: We continue to warn U.S. citizens against travel to the Gaza Strip. By Israeli-Palestinian agreement, the crossing at Rafah to Egypt is the designated entry and exit point for travelers to the Gaza Strip; only a very limited number of official and NGO travelers may use the Erez crossing to Israel. Neither the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv nor the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem issue letters requesting that U.S. citizens be granted entry to Gaza via Erez. Travelers who enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing from Egypt must exit the same way. Such travelers will not be permitted to exit through the Erez crossing except in situations of extreme humanitarian need. Many U.S. citizens have found themselves unable to exit Gaza or have faced lengthy delays in doing so. Furthermore, the requirements for exiting through the Rafah crossing are unpredictable and can involve significant expense. Travelers wishing to enter or exit the Gaza Strip may not be able to travel at a time of their choosing. Crossing points may be closed for days or weeks and departing Gaza is particularly dangerous during times of armed conflict between Hamas and Israel.
Those attempting to enter Gaza by sea may be forcibly diverted to an Israeli military port and placed in detention until deportation from Israel can be arranged. Private vehicles cannot cross the border in either direction. U.S.-Israeli dual citizens are prohibited from entering Gaza by the Government of Israel.
See the latest Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for additional information on the threats to safety in the Gaza Strip. Please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem for updated guidance before attempting to enter Gaza. Should you enter Gaza, the U.S. government’s ability to assist you in departing Gaza is extremely limited as U.S government officials are not allowed to travel to Gaza.
Entering the West Bank: The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when traveling in the West Bank. U.S. government personnel are restricted from personal travel to most areas of the West Bank. However, U.S. government personnel may travel to Bethlehem and Jericho after undergoing a brief familiarization course. See the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for the latest information concerning travel to the West Bank.
Extending Israeli Visas for Residents of the West Bank: Single-nationality U.S citizens living and working in the West Bank may face difficulties renewing their visas, even if they received unrestricted visas upon arrival in Israel or the West Bank.
Those who do not have family connections to Palestinian nationals may receive a visa extension without travel restrictions by applying directly to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) office at Beit El, Ramallah. Please inform the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem if you face difficulties in this respect or feel you were discriminated against.
Dual-nationality derivative Palestinian nationals and spouses of Palestinian nationals receive visa extensions/stamps bearing the restriction limiting their travel to within the West Bank. U.S. citizens who receive this restriction must obtain permits from the Israeli authorities to enter Israel and Jerusalem. These travelers should apply for visa extensions through the Palestinian Authority's District Coordination Office in Ramallah, which coordinates with the Israeli government on their behalf.
U.S. citizens (and their dependents) who are employed in the West Bank by organizations registered inside Israel may apply for unrestricted visa extensions via their Israeli employer through the Ministry of Interior.
Volunteering in the West Bank: Those wishing to volunteer in the West Bank must apply for a B4 volunteer visa at an Israeli Embassy or Consulate before arriving in Israel or the West Bank. Once at the Embassy or Consulate, the applicant must speak with the “Matpash” office, which coordinates volunteer activities in the West Bank. U.S. citizens who have previously been denied entry to Israel or the West Bank or had other legal issues there are advised to provide this information to the Israeli authorities during their visa application. Volunteers who arrive without the correct visa will be denied entry and returned to their point of origin.
Israel-Jordan Crossings: The international crossing points between Israel and Jordan are the Wadi Araba/Yitzhak Rabin crossing in the south, near Eilat; and the Jordan River crossing (Sheikh Hussein Bridge) in the north, near Beit Shean. U.S. citizens using these two crossing points need not obtain visas before arriving at the crossings to enter either Israel or Jordan, but they will be required to pay entry fees, which are subject to change.
Golan Heights: Due to mortar and gunfire reaching northern Israel from Syria and the recent kidnapping of United Nations personnel, U.S. government personnel are prohibited from private travel east of the Jordan River and east of Route 92. Private travel east of Route 90 and official travel east of Route 98 must be approved in advance.
Allenby Bridge (King Hussein Bridge/Al Karama): The Government of Israel requires that Palestinian-Americans with residency status in the West Bank enter Jordan via the Allenby Bridge. For detailed information, please refer to the Consulate General’s web site. U.S. passport holders must obtain Jordanian visas in advance to enter Jordan via the Allenby Bridge; the Israeli authorities issue visas on arrival.
Individuals who receive the rare approval from the Israeli Government to exit Gaza from Erez can only depart Israel via the Allenby Bridge/King Hussein crossing into Jordan and will need advance approval from Jordanian immigration authorities in order to do so. These individuals will not be permitted to depart Israel via Ben Gurion Airport.
Dual U.S.-Israeli citizens are prohibited from using the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge crossing, unless as part of an official delegation or with special permission from the Israeli and Jordanian authorities.
The Israeli Ministry of Health imposes some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to and foreign residents of Israel, and the Ministry of Health reserves the right to deny entry to visitors who declare their status. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Israel before traveling.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our customs information sheet.
Safety and Security
The current Department of State Travel Warning advises U.S. citizens to take due precautions when traveling to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. U.S. citizens who visit or reside in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza should closely consult the Travel Warning to ensure that they are aware of the security concerns. It is strongly recommended that you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so that you can receive the most up-to-date messages from the Department of State regarding safety and security developments.
Jerusalem: In Jerusalem, travelers should dress appropriately when visiting the Old City and ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods. Most roads into ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods are blocked off on Friday nights, Saturdays, and Jewish holidays. Assaults on secular visitors, either for being in cars or for being "immodestly dressed," have occurred in these neighborhoods.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
- Follow the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem on Twitter and visit the Consulate General's website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: The crime rate is moderate in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Break-ins of parked vehicles are common at beach areas, the Dead Sea, cemeteries, and national parks (especially Caesarea National Park). Car break-ins and purse snatchings in cities and cemeteries occur regularly throughout Israel. U.S. citizens should not leave their valuables (including passports) unattended, in parked vehicles, or unsecured in hotels.
Don't buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also break local law.
U.S. citizens have occasionally been the victims of high-pressure sales tactics in Jerusalem's Old City and other tourist areas. In some cases, vendors have not disclosed the true cost of an item and convinced the buyer -- who is unfamiliar with the exchange rate -- to unwittingly sign a credit card sales receipt worth thousands of dollars. Tourists visiting shops in high-traffic tourist areas should not sign credit card receipts unless they are certain of the amount being authorized.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the Department of State's list of embassies and consulates).
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Israel and Jerusalem is 100 for the police, 101 for an ambulance, and 102 for the fire department.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in the West Bank and Gaza is 100 for police, 101 for an ambulance, and 102 for the fire department.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States, or to following Government of Israel links (in English):
The Government of Israel provides assistance to victims of terrorist acts. Please contact the National Insurance Institute for more information.
In the event you are a victim of crime, we can do the following:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, we can contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys.
It is important to remember, however, that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
We recommend that U.S. citizens carry a copy of their passport or some form of photo identification with them at all times when traveling in Israel and the West Bank. U.S. citizens have reported being stopped and questioned by police and immigration officials regarding their immigration status. The U.S. citizens most at risk are those of African and Asian descent. The U.S. Embassy has some confirmed reports of U.S. African-American and Asian-American citizens being stopped by police conducting sweeps for illegal immigrants in Tel Aviv.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you do not have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. Penalties for breaking the law can be more serious than those in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Israeli or PA laws, even unknowingly, may be arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking illegal drugs in Israel and PA-administered areas are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza, being a U.S. citizen will not allow you to avoid arrest or prosecution.
Arrest Notification: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police or prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General and request a consular visit as soon as you are arrested or detained.
Arrests by Israeli Authorities: In some cases, particularly involving security arrests by Israeli authorities in the West Bank and Jerusalem, there have been significant delays between the time of arrest and the time when the Israeli authorities notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General of an arrest of a U.S. citizen and grants consular access. Minor delays in notifying U.S. authorities have also occurred in routine arrests. This is particularly true with any arrest of a dual national when the police are unaware of the detainee’s U.S. nationality. The notification may be expedited if the arrested U.S. citizen shows a U.S. passport to the arresting authorities at the jail or prison, requesting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General be contacted. Some youths over the age of 14 have been detained and tried as adults. Arrestees have reported mistreatment during interrogation and pressure to sign documents in Hebrew that they do not understand.
U.S. citizens arrested in Israel for criminal or security offenses are entitled to legal representation provided by the Israeli government
U.S. citizens arrested by Israeli authorities for security offenses, whether in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza, may be prevented from communicating with lawyers, family members, or consular officers for lengthy periods. Even after notification, consular access to the arrested individual may be delayed. Under local law, individuals detained for security offenses may be held for up to six months without charges.
Arrests by the Palestinian Authority (PA): U.S. citizens arrested by PA law enforcement in the West Bank are entitled to legal representation and may be provided an attorney, depending on the offense. PA security forces normally notify the Consulate General of non-security-related arrests for criminal offenses, but not always in a timely manner. Consular access is normally granted within four days. This procedure may be expedited if the arrested U.S. citizen asks the police to contact the U.S. Consulate General.
Individuals arrested by PA security forces in the West Bank for security offenses may be prohibited from communicating with lawyers, family members, or consular officers for lengthy periods. In addition, they may be held in custody for long periods without formal charges or before being brought before a judge for an arrest extension. The PA often does not notify the U.S. Consulate General of such arrests in a timely manner, and consular access to arrestees is occasionally delayed or denied.
Gaza: Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, its Executive Forces (EF) have dominated security matters there. The U.S. government has no contact with the EF and cannot assist those arrested in Gaza.
Court Jurisdiction: Civil courts in Israel actively exercise their authority to bar certain individuals, including nonresidents, from leaving the country until debts or other legal claims against them are resolved. Israel's religious courts exercise jurisdiction over all citizens and residents of Israel in cases of marriage, divorce, child custody, and child support. In some cases, U.S. citizens who entered Israel as tourists have become defendants in divorce or custody cases filed by their spouses in Israeli religious courts. These U.S. citizens have been detained in Israel for prolonged periods while the Israeli courts consider whether the individuals have sufficient ties to Israel to establish jurisdiction. Such visitors should be aware that they might be subject to involuntary and prolonged stays in Israel if a case is filed against them in a religious court, even if their marriage took place in the United States and regardless of whether their spouse is present in Israel.
Purchases of Property: U.S. citizens who buy or lease property in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza may find their ownership challenged by people earlier displaced from those lands. Prospective property buyers should always seek legal advice before buying in these areas. The possible establishment of a Palestinian state may have legal consequences for property owners in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in Jerusalem.
LGBT RIGHTS: Israel has anti-discrimination laws protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Acceptance and tolerance of LGBT people varies throughout the country and even from neighborhood to neighborhood. As of August 2014, the Law of Return allows for same-sex spousesof Jews making Aliyah to be eligible to make Aliyah with their spouses and receive Israeli citizenship.
The legal systems in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are based on the 1960 Jordanian penal code which prohibits consensual same-sex sexual activity. However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not been known to prosecute individuals suspected of such activity. Some Palestinians have claimed PA security officers and other residents harassed, abused, and sometimes arrested LGBT individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. NGOs reported Hamas also harassed and detained persons in Gaza due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, there are laws barring public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex which also apply to LGBT couples.
LGBT travelers are encouraged to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings, especially when entering religious or socially conservative areas.
Israel’s Aguda organization provides useful information on LGBT issues in Israel. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from that in the United States. Israeli law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of other state services. Legislation mandates access to buildings and transportation, as well as accommodations for persons with disabilities in services and the work place. The government enforces the laws with only limited success. Societal discrimination and lack of accessibility persist in employment and housing. The law mandates accessibility to urban public transportation but not interurban buses. Most train stations maintain access for persons with disabilities; however, many buses still do not have such access. Television stations include subtitles or sign language, and the courts accommodate testimony from persons with intellectual disabilities or mental illness. Tourists will find restaurants, foot paths, and public transportation less accessible than in the United States.
Modern medical care and medicines are available in Israel. A few hospitals in Israel and most hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza, however, fall below Western standards. It is recommended that visitors have health insurance. Travelers can find information in English about emergency medical facilities and after-hours pharmacies in the Jerusalem Post and the English-language edition of the Ha'aretz newspaper, or refer to the Embassy's or Consulate General's medical lists.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Israeli roads and highways tend to be crowded, especially in urban areas. Aggressive driving is commonplace, and many drivers fail to maintain safe following distances or signal before changing lanes or making turns. Overtaking on high-speed, undivided two-lane roads is common and results in frequent accidents. Drivers are also prone to stop suddenly on roads without warning, especially in the right lane. Drivers should use caution, as Israel has a high rate of fatalities from automobile accidents. Seat belt use is required for all passengers in a car and consumption of alcohol while driving is prohibited.
U.S. citizen employees of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem and their families have been prohibited from using public buses and their associated terminals. (Please review the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for more details.)
The Government of Israel requires that all passenger car occupants use their seat belts at all times and that headlights be used during all intercity travel, both day and night, and during winter. All drivers are required to carry fluorescent vests in the car with them at all times, and they are required to wear these vests whenever they get out of their cars to make repairs, change tires, etc. If a vehicle is stopped for a traffic violation and it does not contain a fluorescent vest, the driver will be fined. These vests can be purchased for a nominal price in all local gas stations. While cellular handset phone use is prohibited while driving, hands-free units are authorized.
West Bank and Gaza: Crowded roads and herds of animals on the roads are common in the West Bank and Gaza. During periods of heightened tension, cars and buses have been targeted with stone throwing, improvised incendiary devices, and small arms fire. Emergency services may be delayed by the need for Palestinian authorities to coordinate with Israeli officials. Seat belt use is required and drivers may not drink alcohol. Individuals involved in accidents resulting in death or injury may be detained by police pending an investigation.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Israel's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Israel's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page