- We advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Israel due to the threat of terrorist attack and the threat of rocket fire. Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime and anywhere in Israel.
- An ‘open ended’ ceasefire was announced between Israel and Hamas on 26 August. Several ceasefires have collapsed over the past month. Since July 2014, over 4,000 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Rockets have reached many locations in Israel, including Tel Aviv and cities further north. Some rockets have reached Jerusalem and the West Bank including Bethlehem and Hebron. While many rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome system, these attacks have the potential to cause serious damage. Australians visiting Israel should be aware of the risks of travel should the conflict between Hamas and Israel resume.
- Australians in Israel should familiarise themselves with emergency procedures and how to respond to air raid sirens, including knowing the location of their nearest emergency shelters. Municipality websites maintain lists of public bomb shelters and other emergency preparedness information.
- We strongly advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to areas of Israel within 40kms 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.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. You should monitor local media and official announcements, as the security situation may change unexpectedly. In the event of a heightened security alert, security forces may respond by establishing additional roadblocks and by increasing the presence of security forces on the streets. Vehicle inspections may also be conducted and there may be heightened scrutiny of individuals and their belongings.
- Australians are reminded to exercise a high degree of caution 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. In planning your activities, consider the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided.
- We continue to strongly advise Australians to depart the Gaza Strip through official border crossing points if it is safe to do so. Civilians were killed and injured during the military confrontation in July-August 2014.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the West Bank, including Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, Jericho and Ramallah due to the unpredictable security situation. Since the beginning of Israeli military operations in Gaza in July 2014 there have been protests in several parts of the West Bank that have turned violent. The situation remains volatile. There is a threat of further violent protests, particularly in areas near checkpoints. See more information on the West Bank in the Safety and security: Civil unrest/political tension.
- Australians should avoid all protests, demonstrations and political rallies as they may turn violent. You are strongly encouraged to maintain a heightened level of awareness of current events and security developments.
- The security situation in the region bordering Egypt could deteriorate at any time. Recent security incidents have resulted in deaths and injuries, and the area remains dangerous. There is a continuing threat of rocket attack in this area.
- The security situation in the northern region of Israel could deteriorate without notice. The border region with Lebanon and Syria is subject to violent incidents, and there is an ongoing threat of rocket attack, artillery and small arms fire.
- We advise Australians to avoid the immediate border region with Syria due to the increased presence of militants in the area. In August 2014, parts of Route 98 were closed due to fighting on the Syrian side of the border.
- Australians visiting Israel on business should see our Advice to Australian business travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Israel for the most up-to-date information. You can also visit the Israel Government Portal. You may be subject to lengthy questioning and bag searches by security officials on arrival and departure.
Everyone seeking to enter Israel, the Gaza Strip or West Bank is subject to security and police record checks by Israeli authorities and may be refused entry or exit without explanation.
Israeli authorities have advised that travellers who arrive in Israel and who are identified as participating in a “flightilla” (i.e. arriving in Israel by air with the intention of protesting Israeli policies) may be refused entry to Israel and returned to their country of embarkation on the next available flight. Australian citizens who have travelled to Israel as part of a “flightilla” in the past have been held in detention by Israeli authorities and deported.
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 a passport receives this stamp, the passport holder is restricted to West Bank destinations and prevented from entering Israel and Jerusalem. Travellers should be alert to which stamp they receive. Airport officials may require visitors to sign a form that prohibits them entering the West Bank. The Australian Embassy may have limited ability to intervene in these situations.
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.
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 weeks) while waiting for approval to return to Egypt and for the crossing to open. The Australian Government cannot influence the granting of approval or when the crossing will open.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Civil unrest/political tension
Planned and spontaneous protests can turn violent. You should avoid any large public demonstrations, political rallies and gatherings (including funerals), pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for updates. 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. International events and political developments may prompt demonstrations.
Conflict in July-August 2014
An ‘open ended’ ceasefire was announced between Israel and Hamas on 26 August. Several ceasefires have collapsed over the past month. Since July 2014, over 4,000 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Rockets have reached many locations in Israel, including Tel Aviv and cities further north. Some rockets have reached Jerusalem and the West Bank including Bethlehem and Hebron. While many rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome system, these attacks have the potential to cause serious damage. Australians visiting Israel should consider the risks of travel should the conflict between Hamas and Israel resume.
Australians in Israel should familiarise themselves with emergency procedures and how to respond to air raid sirens, including knowing the location of their nearest emergency shelters. 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.
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.
Reconsider all travel in areas of Israel within 40 kilometres of the Gaza Strip
We strongly advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to areas of Israel within 40 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.
Military action and civil disorder
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. If you are caught up in military action or civil disorder, it is safest, in the absence of other advice, to remain indoors, monitor the media and obey the instructions of local authorities.
Protests and demonstrations
Planned and spontaneous protests can turn violent. You should avoid any large public demonstrations, political rallies and gatherings (including funerals), pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for updates. Israeli security forces monitor large gatherings and may intervene. International events and political developments may prompt demonstrations.
There are ongoing tensions and violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Stone-throwing and other violent incidents are common, particularly around settlements and military checkpoints. Violent incidents have taken place and may occur again. Tensions can arise at short notice and violence occurs in areas frequented by tourists, including in and around the Old City of Jerusalem and in neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem.
You should be particularly vigilant during Jewish and Muslim religious holidays, such as Rosh Hashana, Ramadan and Pesach.
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.
Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria:
The border regions with Lebanon and Syria are subject to violent incidents and there is an ongoing threat of rocket attack.
Since 2012 rockets have been fired into northern Israel from Lebanon and artillery and small arms fire from Syria have landed in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
There has recently been an increased presence of militants on the Syrian side of the border. Australians should avoid the area immediately bordering Syria. In August 2014, parts of Route 98 were closed due to fighting on the Syrian side of the border.
Since July 2014, rockets have been fired from southern Lebanon into Israel. Further such incidents may occur. There is a significant military presence in the area. The security situation could deteriorate without notice.
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Israel due to the threat of terrorist attack. Israel’s proximity to armed groups in surrounding territories makes it an ongoing target for terrorism. Attacks could occur anywhere at any time.
Local and international political developments and events may prompt terrorist attacks. You should regularly check the media for news about the region and monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks.
The security situation in the region bordering Egypt and the Gulf of Aqaba could deteriorate at any time. Recent security incidents have resulted in deaths and injuries and the area remains dangerous. There is a continuing threat of rocket attack in this area. Rockets were fired into the southern city of Eilat from the Sinai (Egypt) on 17 April 2013.
On 22 December 2013, a bomb exploded on a public bus in southern Tel Aviv. There were no injuries. Twenty people were injured in a bus bombing in Tel Aviv in November 2012. Australians are reminded to exercise a high degree of caution when using public transport in Israel. Due to safety and security concerns, Australian Government officials and dependents have been advised not to use public transport, except taxis, in Israel.
Security at checkpoints is periodically increased in response to security alerts.
In planning your activities, consider the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include commercial and public areas such as transport infrastructure (including bus stops, buses and bus stations), 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.
Civil unrest/political tension: Gaza Strip and surrounding areas (including waters off Gaza)
On 17 July Israel launched a ground offensive into Gaza. Civilians were killed and injured during the military confrontation in Gaza. An ‘open ended’ ceasefire was announced between Israel and Hamas on 26 August. Several ceasefires have collapsed over the past month. There is a risk that the conflict could resume without warning at any time. We strongly advise you not to travel to the Gaza Strip, its coast and surrounding areas in southern Israel, because of the extremely dangerous and unpredictable security situation and the potential for further Israeli military operations. We continue to strongly advise Australians to depart the Gaza Strip through official border crossing points if it is safe to do so.
The Australian Government assisted in the departure of a number of Australians from the Gaza Strip during the conflict in July/August 2014. Australians seeking assistance should contact the 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 or the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv on (972 3) 693 5000 for advice on any available options. Australians remaining in the Gaza Strip should be aware of the extremely limited capacity of the Australian Government to deliver consular assistance.
Some international media representatives have been prevented from departing Gaza.
If you are caught up in military action or civil disorder, you should remain in a secure location indoors and monitor the media for information.
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. The most recent kidnapping occurred in April 2011 in Gaza City, where a foreign national was kidnapped and killed by militants.
We strongly advise against travelling by sea to the coast of the Gaza Strip in breach of Israeli naval restrictions or participating in any attempt to break the naval blockade. The Israeli Navy routinely patrols territorial waters and a contiguous zone. In May 2010, an attempt to breach the naval blockade along the coast of Gaza was intercepted by Israeli security forces and resulted in the injury, death, arrest and deportation of foreign nationals, including Australians.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.
Civil unrest/political tension: West Bank
We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the West Bank, including Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, Jericho and Ramallah, due to the unpredictable security situation. You should not enter closed military zones even where these have been in place for an extended period such as in the old city of Hebron.
Since the beginning of Israeli military operations in Gaza in July 2014 there have been protests in several parts of the West Bank that have turned violent. The situation remains volatile. There is a threat of further violent protests, particularly in areas near checkpoints.
Stone throwing and other violent incidents occur between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly around settlements and checkpoints
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. Acts of terrorism may result in an increase in the level of operations.
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.
Large, sometimes violent, demonstrations have occurred in the West Bank. Foreign nationals have been injured. You should avoid all demonstrations.
If you are in the West Bank and are caught up in military action or civil disorder, you should remain in a secure location indoors and monitor the media for information. In such situations, we urge you to contact the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv immediately.
Purse snatching, pick-pocketing and petty theft can occur. Violent crime is rare.
Theft from vehicles is a growing problem, particularly in beachside areas. Australians have reported thefts from unattended vehicles near tourist sites.
Valuables, such as cash, jewellery and electronic items, should be kept out of sight and not be left unsecured in hotel rooms, visible in vehicles or unattended in public places.
There are live minefields in the Israeli border areas with Lebanon and in the Golan Heights and in the West Bank. Some may not be clearly marked.
Driving in Israel is erratic. The road fatality rate in Israel is very high. For further advice, see our road travel page.
Checkpoints may be set up or closed at any time, often without warning, throughout Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Travellers may encounter delays or difficulties passing through checkpoints.
You should exercise a high degree of caution 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.
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.
Please refer to our air travel page about aviation safety and security.
When you are in Israel, West Bank or Gaza Strip, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Travel documents such as passports and visas (or copies) must be carried at all times as proof of identity.
Penalties for drug offences include lengthy jail terms and heavy fines.
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 our LGBTI travellers page.
It is illegal to photograph police and military personnel and buildings and places considered security-sensitive, such as military installations and some government offices. You should exercise judgement when photographing people in Muslim and Orthodox Jewish areas and ask permission before photographing individuals.
The importation of religious materials for the purpose of preaching is not permitted in Israel. Such items are likely to be confiscated.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in mid-June 2015. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.
You should familiarise yourself with local and religious customs and take care not to offend.
The 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.
Public displays of affection are frowned on at religious sites in Israel. You should also take care to 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.
Unmarried couples (including same sex couples) are not permitted to live together or share hotel accommodation in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.
Information for 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.
Australian/Israeli dual nationals, both men and women, may be liable for military service. Australian/Israeli dual nationals who are unsure of their military service obligation can consult the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Israel.
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. Australian/Palestinian dual nationals should also contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Israel for the most up-to-date information on entry and exit requirements.
Our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Israeli and Australian/Palestinian dual nationals who are detained or arrested may be limited.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
The standard of medical facilities in Israel is high, while facilities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are generally below Australian standards. Doctors may require up-front payment before commencing treatment and costs can be expensive. In the event of a serious illness or accident in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could be considerable.
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.
On 5 May 2014 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the recent international spread of wild poliovirus a “public health emergency of international concern”, and has issued temporary recommendations that may affect your travel to Israel.
It is recommended that Australians travelling to Israel are up to date with routinely recommended vaccinations against polio, including a booster dose, as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook, prior to departure.
Australian travellers planning to visit Israel, and staying for periods greater than 4 weeks, are encouraged to carry documented evidence of having received a dose of polio vaccine within 12 months prior to departure from Israel. If you do not have documented evidence of polio vaccination within this 12 month period, you may be encouraged to be vaccinated prior to departure from Israel.
Please see your doctor to discuss your vaccination requirements. Further information is available from the Australian Department of Health Polio website.
We recommend that you avoid raw and undercooked food and avoid unpasteurised dairy products. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
In rural areas, it is recommended that all drinking water be boiled or that you drink bottled water.
A decompression chamber is located at Joseph Tal Hospital in Eilat.
Where to get help
In Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, you can obtain consular assistance from:
The Australian Embassy
Discount Bank Tower
23 Yehuda Halevi Street (corner Herzl Street)
Tel Aviv 65136 ISRAEL
Telephone: (972 3) 693 5000
Facsimile: (972 3) 693 5002
An Australian Representative Office is located in Ramallah. However, the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv should be the first point of contact for Australians seeking consular assistance.
Australian Representative Office
48 Othman Ben Affan Street
El Bireh Ramallah WEST BANK
Telephone: (972 2) 242 5301
Facsimile: (972 2) 242 8290
If you are travelling to Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency – whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy or the Representative Office, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
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.
For further information, see our severe weather page. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.