Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza International Travel Information
U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
14 David Flusser Street
Telephone: + (972) (2) 630-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (972) (3) 519-7551
Fax: + (972) (2) 630-4070
Contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem for information and assistance in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.
U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv Branch
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 Branch Office in Tel Aviv for information and assistance elsewhere in Israel, and the northern (Sheikh Hussein) and southern (Yitzhak Rabin) border crossings connecting Israel and Jordan, and the border crossings between Israel and Egypt.
In 1994, negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), a body that administers a limited form of Palestinian self-governance in Areas A and B of the West Bank. In the West Bank, there is a division of security-related and civil administration responsibilities between the Government of Israel and the PA, differing by location. The PA administers civil and security control in Area A, the PA administers civil control while Israel provides security control for Area B, and Israel has full civil and security control of Area C (although the PA operates some health and education facilities there). Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, violently took control of Gaza in 2007 and exercises de facto control there.
United States citizens traveling to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza should read this section in its entirety to be aware of the complexities regarding entry, exit, and permission to stay in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Upon arrival at any of the ports of entry, U.S. citizens traveling to the West Bank may wish to confirm with Israeli immigration authorities from what location they will be required to depart. Some have been allowed to enter Israel but told they cannot depart Israel via Ben Gurion Airport without special permission, which is rarely granted. Some families have been separated as a result, and other travelers have forfeited airline tickets.
Additional Entry/Exit Requirements:
Additional Information for Non-Dual Nationals:
Additional Information on Extending Israeli Visas for Residents of the West Bank:
Additional Information on Israel-Jordan Crossings: (Note: The information below does not apply to dual Palestinian-U.S. nationals registered in the Palestinian Authority population registry or to dual Israeli-U.S. nationals.)
Minors: Israel does not require minors (defined as under the age of 18) traveling with one parent or with someone who is not a parent or legal guardian to have written consent from the other parent or parents to either enter or depart Israel. Nonetheless, it is recommended that the accompanying adult have a signed, dated, and notarized letter from the non-traveling parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with neither parent, a letter signed by both parents) stating “I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my/our permission to do so.”
Terrorism: Terrorist groups in and around Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are intent on attacking Israeli Security Forces and, occasionally, Israeli citizens. While not the intended target, U.S. citizens visiting Israel or the West Bank could become collateral damage of terrorist attacks.
Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
The current Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza advises U.S. citizens to be aware of the continuing risks of travel to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza due to the security situation and heightened tensions there, and warns against travel to Gaza. U.S. citizens have been killed and wounded in attacks in recent years, though there is no indication they were specifically targeted based on nationality. U.S. citizens who visit or reside in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza should consult the Travel Advisory to ensure they are aware of the security concerns. There is also a danger of occasional indirect cross-border fire from Syria into the Golan Heights. Please enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the most up-to-date messages from the Department of State regarding safety and security developments.
Jerusalem: Violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis have occurred in some parts of Jerusalem and surrounding areas. Violent acts have resulted in death and injury to bystanders, including U.S. citizens. The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to exercise caution in the Old City, particularly around the Damascus, Lion’s, and Herod’s gates. Travelers are reminded to exercise caution at Islamic religious sites on Fridays and on holy days, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. Many orthodox Jewish communities in and around Jerusalem restrict vehicle traffic on Shabbat (Friday night to Saturday night). Entering these neighborhoods with a vehicle on Shabbat or with revealing clothing at any time may result in protests and violence. See the Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for additional information.
The West Bank: U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling to the West Bank, including to Bethlehem, Jericho, and Hebron, due to the complex security situation there. Violent clashes between security forces, and Israeli and Palestinian residents have resulted in the death and injury of U.S. citizens and others. During periods of unrest, the Government of Israel may restrict access to and within the West Bank, and some areas may be placed under curfew. U.S. government employees are restricted from personal travel in the West Bank except to the cities of Bethlehem, Jericho, and Ma’ale Adumim and the portions of routes 1, 90, and 443 that traverse the West Bank. Additional limitations may be applied to U.S. government travelers as warranted. See the Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for additional information.
The Gaza Strip: The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Gaza Strip and urges those present to depart immediately. Gaza is under the control of Hamas, a U.S. government-designated foreign terrorist organization. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile. Violent demonstrations and shootings occur on a frequent basis and the collateral risks are high. Sporadic mortar and rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military responses continue to occur. In recent years, Palestinians have demonstrated near the fence with Israel, and some have used violence. The Israeli military has responded with live fire that has killed Palestinians. U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Gaza cannot rely on the U.S. government to assist them in departing Gaza. Many U.S. citizens have been unable to exit Gaza or faced lengthy delays while attempting to exit Gaza. U.S. government employees may not travel to Gaza for personal or official purposes. See the Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for additional information.
Mortar and Rocket Fire: In the event of mortar or rocket fire, a “red alert” siren may be activated. Treat all such alerts as real; follow the instructions from local authorities and seek shelter immediately. Know the location of your closest shelter or protected space. U.S. government personnel and their family members may be restricted from traveling to areas affected by rocket activity, sirens, and/or the opening of bomb shelters. For additional information on appropriate action to take upon hearing a siren or explosion, see the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command website (available on devices within Israel) or view the Preparedness Information PDF. U.S. citizens may also wish to download the free Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command application on Android or Apple devices to receive real-time security and safety alerts. Free commercial applications, such as Red Alert: Israel, are also available.
Crime: The crime rate is moderate in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Parked vehicle break-ins are common at public beach areas, national parks, and other tourist sites. Vehicle theft also remains a problem. U.S. citizens should not leave their valuables (including passports) unattended in parked vehicles, on the beach, or unsecured in hotels. Visitors should be aware of their surroundings in tourist areas and watch for crimes of opportunity, such as pickpockets.
Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, but such purchases may also be violating local law.
U.S. citizens have occasionally been subject to 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.
For additional information, read the most recent Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Crime and Safety Report for Israel and.
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police. The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Israel and the West Bank is 100 for police, 101 for an ambulance, and 102 for the fire department.
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. You can reach the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Embassy Branch Office at the contact information provided above. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence should contact local police but may also contact the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Embassy Branch Office to report it.
Beach Safety: Swimming areas at some popular tourist destinations have dangerous conditions. Strong rip currents at beaches along the Mediterranean Sea warrant particular caution. U.S. citizens have died in Israel due to these dangers. Swim only at officially designated beaches when lifeguards are present. Consult a lifeguard for current bathing conditions before entering the water. Avoid the consumption of alcohol while swimming. Consult the Israeli Ministry of Interior’s English language water safety website for beach safety information and a list of officially designated beaches.
Tourism: The tourism industry in Israelis generally regulated and rules concerning best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws and legal systems, which can be vastly different from our own. If you violate Israeli or Palestinian laws, even unknowingly, being a U.S. citizen will not help you to avoid arrest or prosecution. 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. Individuals expressing views, including on social media, which the Government of Israel considers incitement to violence or hate speech may face criminal penalties. Palestinian Authority security officials have also arrested Palestinians who posted criticism of the PA online, including on their Facebook pages. In Gaza, individuals publicly criticizing authorities have risked reprisal by Hamas, including arrest, interrogation, seizure of property, and harassment.
Arrests and Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Embassy Branch Office immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Arrests and Arrest Notification by Israel:
Arrests and Arrest Notification by the Palestinian Authority (PA):
Gaza: Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the Hamas Executive Forces (EF) have dominated security matters in Gaza. The U.S. government has no contact with the EF and cannot assist those arrested in Gaza.
Court Jurisdiction: Civil and religious 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. U.S. citizens, including those without Israeli citizenship, should be aware that they may be subject to involuntary and prolonged stays (and even imprisonment) 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. The U.S. Embassy is unable to cancel the debt of a U.S. citizen or guarantee their departure from Israel when they face a bar from leaving the country until debts are resolved.
Purchases of Property: U.S. citizens should always seek legal advice before buying or leasing property in the West Bank and Gaza. Please see the most recent Investment Climate Statement for the West Bank and Gaza for additional information on property rights.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI Rights: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) events in Israel. Israeli anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTI individuals. Acceptance and tolerance of LGBTI people varies throughout the country and from neighborhood to neighborhood. As of August 2014, the Law of Return allows that same-sex spouses of Jews immigrating to Israel – known as “making Aliyah” – are 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 prosecuted individuals suspected of such activity. Societal discrimination based on cultural and religious traditions is commonplace, making the West Bank and Gaza challenging environments for LGBTI persons. PA security officers have harassed, abused, and sometimes arrested LGBTI 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.
LGBTI 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 LGBTI issues in Israel.
See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.
Persons with Mobility Issues: Individuals with mobility issues may find accessibility and accommodation in Israel very different from in the United States. Legislation mandates access to buildings and transportation, as well as accommodations for persons with disabilities in services and the workplace. The government enforces the laws with only limited success, however. Societal discrimination and lack of accessibility persist in employment and housing. The law mandates accessibility to urban public transportation but not intercity 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.
Palestinian Authority law prohibits discrimination based on disability. The Palestinian Disability Law was ratified in 1999, but implementation has been slow. It does not mandate access to buildings, information, or communications. Palestinians with disabilities continue to receive uneven and poor quality services and care. Familial and societal discrimination against persons with disabilities exists in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Modern medical care and medicines are available in Israel. Some hospitals in Israel and most hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza, however, fall below Western standards. 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 U.S. Embassy’s medical information list.
Ambulance services are widely available in Israel. Ambulance services in the West Bank are available but training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards. The U.S. government does not have knowledge of ambulance services in Gaza. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) operates in the West Bank and Gaza.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (see our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Israel Ministry of Health to ensure the medication is legal in Israel. Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. government does not pay private medical bills incurred by U.S. citizens abroad.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most health care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
For further health information, go to:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Health facilities in general:
Medical Tourism and Elective Surgery
Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy
Road Conditions and Safety: 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.
Traffic Laws: Aggressive driving is commonplace, and many drivers fail to maintain safe following distances or signal before changing lanes or making turns. Overtaking at high-speed on undivided two-lane roads is common and may result in 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.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. We suggest that you visit the website of the country’s national tourist office and Israel's Ministry of Transport and Road Safety for road safety.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed that the Government of Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority is 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.