Caution
October 19, 2023

Worldwide Caution

Update
January 10, 2024

Information for U.S. Citizens in the Middle East

International Parental Child Abduction

English

Country Information

Israel, the West Bank and Gaza

Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza
See Individual Summaries and advisory levels below for information on your specific travel destination.

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

Reconsider travel due to terrorism and civil unrest.

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.

... [READ MORE]

Hague Convention Participation

Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes (Israel only)
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes (Israel only)

What You Can Do

Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Jerusalem 
14 David Flusser Street 
Jerusalem 93392 
Telephone: + (972) (2) 630-4000 
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (972) (2) 622-7230 
Email:JerusalemACS@state.gov

Contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem for information and assistance in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza (including the Erez Crossing), and the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.

U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs
18 Agron Road
Jerusalem 9419003
Telephone:
+ (972) (2) 630-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (972) (2) 622-7230
Email:JerusalemACS@state.gov

U.S. Embassy Jerusalem Branch Office Tel Aviv  
71 HaYarkon Street 
Tel Aviv Israel 63903 
Telephone: + (972) (3) 519-7575 
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (972) (3) 519-7551 
Email:TelAvivACS@state.gov

Contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv for information and assistance in Israel outside of Jerusalem, and the northern (Sheikh Hussein) and southern (Yitzhak Rabin) border crossings connecting Israel and Jordan, and the border crossings between Israel and Egypt.

General Information

Israel and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since December 1, 1991.

For information concerning travel to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country information for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Child Abduction. The report is located here.

Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Israel. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:
  1-888-407-4747
Website:  travel.state.gov

The Israel Central Authority (ICA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice, Office of the State Attorney. The ICA has an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications. For example, the ICA will ensure that all the required documents are submitted and make additional inquiries if necessary.  The ICA can be reached at:

Ministry of Justice
Office of the State Attorney
Department of International Affairs
7 Mahal Street, Ma'alot Dafna
PO Box 94123
Jerusalem  97765

Tel: +972-2-541-9614/9613
Fax:+972-2-541-9644/9645
Website: https://www.gov.il/en/Departments/Guides/international-dep-child-abduction

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Israel, an applicant parent must submit a Hague application to the ICA. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the ICA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or the Israeli central authorities. Attorney fees are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Israel can provide legal aid to applicants who can provide proof that they qualify for such aid in their own jurisdiction. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

 

Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in Israel. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction in countries where the Hague Abduction Convention is not an available remedy. For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children's Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children's Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance. 

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Fax: 202-485-6221
Email: MiddleEastIPCA@state.gov
Website: travel.state.gov
 
Parents who have a child who has been removed to or retained outside the United States in the West Bank or Gaza are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the local court. Please see Pressing Criminal Charges for additional information. 

Visitation/Access

 

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Israel. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

Parents who are seeking access to children who were wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States in the West Bank or Gaza should contact the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem for information and possible assistance.

 

Retaining an Attorney

Applicant parents or guardians are required to retain the services of an attorney in order to forward their Hague petition to the appropriate Israeli court and are responsible for all legal fees.  Applicants who are unable to pay for an attorney may apply for Israeli legal aid. 

The U.S. Embassy posts a list of attorneys in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms.  Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

Mediation

Under Israeli law, the Family Court can refer pending cases, including Hague Abduction Convention cases, to certified family mediators who are listed in the court's roster. These mediators are required to be experienced social workers, psychologists, or lawyers who have attended special training in family mediation. However, there are no mediation programs established specifically to deal with Hague Abduction Convention cases.

An official mediation service is also provided in the Family Court, within the framework of the Court's assistance units. This service is staffed by social workers and psychologists who have expertise in difficult cases and experience in mediation. Cases under the Hague Abduction Convention can be referred to these assistance units by the Family Court. Mediation can also be sought to resolve access arrangements pending the hearing of the return application. 

Israeli courts may recognize a mediated agreement, which can have the same effect as a court decision. The court must ensure that the mediation process is conducted in accordance with the Court Mediation Regulations and that the mediated agreement is in the best interests of the child.

There are no independent mediation services in the West Bank. All mediation services operate within the court structure.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Last Updated: January 5, 2021

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
14 David Flusser Street
Jerusalem 93392

For Embassy Branch Office Tel Aviv, e-mail TelAvivACS@state.gov. For additional contact information for the Embassy Branch Office, see the Embassies and Consulates section on this page.
Telephone
+ (972) (2) 630-4000
Emergency
+ (972) (3) 519-7551
Fax
+ (972) (2) 630-4070

Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Map