Israel, the West Bank and Gaza - Consular Information Sheet
August 20, 2001
WARNING (Updated August 10, 2001): The Department of State
warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to Israel, the West Bank and
Gaza. There is a heightened threat of terrorist incidents in Israel,
the West Bank and Gaza. Several recent terrorist bombings in Israel
have resulted in numerous deaths and serious injuries of civilians,
including American citizens, some there as tourists. Further,
the situation in Gaza and the West Bank remains extremely volatile
with continuing confrontations and clashes.
U.S. Government personnel in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are
under tight security controls, including prohibition of unofficial
travel to the West Bank and Gaza and the city of Jerusalem or
areas within the city, depending on current security conditions.
Private Americans who remain in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
despite this warning should follow similar precautions and remain
in close communication with the American Embassy in Tel Aviv and
the American Consulate General in Jerusalem. American citizens
residing in the West Bank and Gaza should consider relocating
to a safe location, if they can do so safely.
American citizens in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza should also
exercise extreme caution and avoid shopping areas, malls, restaurants
and cafes, public buses and bus stops and the areas around them
as well as crowded areas and demonstrations. U.S. Embassy and
Consulate employees and their families have been prohibited from
using public buses throughout Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
From time to time, the Embassy and Consulate General may temporarily
suspend public services as necessary to review its security posture.
In those instances U.S. citizens who require emergency services
may telephone the Consulate General in Jerusalem at (972) (2)
622-7230 or the Embassy in Tel Aviv at (972) (3) 519-7355.
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The State of Israel is a parliamentary
democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely
available. Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights,
and East Jerusalem as a result of the 1967 War. Pursuant to negotiations
between Israel and the Palestinians, an elected Palestinian Authority
now exercises jurisdiction in parts of Gaza and the West Bank.
Palestinian Authority police are responsible for keeping order
in those areas and the Palestinian Authority exercises a range
of civil functions. The division of responsibilities and jurisdiction
in the West Bank and Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian Authority
is complex. Definitive information on entry, customs requirements,
arrests, and other matters in the West Bank and Gaza is subject
to change without prior notice or may not be available.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Israel: A valid passport, an onward
or return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds are required for
entry. A no-charge three-month visa may be issued upon arrival
and may be renewed. Travelers carrying official or diplomatic
U.S. passports must obtain visas from an Israeli embassy or consulate
prior to arrival in Israel. Anyone who has been refused entry
or experienced difficulties with his/her visa status during a
previous visit, or who has overstayed a visa, should consult the
Israeli Embassy or nearest Israeli Consulate before attempting
to return to Israel. Anyone seeking returning resident status
must obtain permission from Israeli authorities before traveling.
West Bank and Gaza: Except during periods of heightened security
restrictions, most U.S. citizens may enter and exit the West Bank
and Gaza on a U.S. passport with an Israeli entry stamp. It is
not necessary to obtain a visitor's permit from the Palestinian
Authority to travel to the West Bank or Gaza. Private vehicles
may not cross from Israel into Gaza and may be stopped at checkpoints
entering or leaving the West Bank.
The Allenby Bridge crossing from the West Bank into Jordan, and
the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt are under the jurisdiction
of the Israeli Government, which also controls entry and exit
via the Gaza International Airport. This may have special ramifications
for Palestinian Americans and other Arab Americans.
Palestinian Americans: American citizens of Palestinian origin
who were born on the West Bank or Gaza or resided there for more
than three months, may be considered by Israeli authorities to
be residents, especially if they or their parents were issued
a Palestinian ID number. Any American citizen whom Israel considers
to be a resident is required by Israel to hold a valid Palestinian
passport to enter or leave the West Bank or Gaza via Israel, the
Gaza International Airport, or the Rafah or Allenby Bridge border
crossing. American citizens in this category who arrive without
a Palestinian passport will generally be granted permission to
travel to the West Bank or Gaza to obtain one, but may only be
allowed to depart via Israel on a Palestinian passport rather
than on their U.S. passport. The Government of Israel does not
require travel on a Palestinian passport for visits of less than
90 days, but may instead require a transit permit for travel to
the West Bank or Gaza.
During periods of heightened security restrictions, Palestinian
Americans with residency status in the West Bank or Gaza may not
be allowed to enter or exit Gaza or the West Bank, even if using
their American passports. Specific questions may be addressed
to the nearest Israeli Embassy or Consulate.
Israel-Jordan Crossings: International crossing points between
Israel and Jordan are the Arava crossing (Wadi al-'Arabah) in
the south, near Eilat, and the Jordan River crossing (Sheikh Hussein
Bridge) in the north, near Beit Shean. American citizens using
these two crossing points to enter either Israel or Jordan need
not obtain prior visas, but will have to pay a fee at the bridge.
Visas should be obtained in advance for those wanting to cross
the Allenby Bridge between Jordan and the occupied West Bank.
(Note: The Government of Israel requires that Palestinian Americans
with residency status in the West Bank or Gaza only enter Jordan
by land by means of the Allenby Bridge.) Procedures for all crossings
into Jordan are subject to frequent changes.
For further entry information on Israel, travelers may contact
the Embassy of Israel at 3514 International Drive NW, Washington,
D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 364-5500, or the Israeli Consulates
General in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago,
Boston, New York, Philadelphia, or Houston.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: Israeli citizens naturalized in the
United States retain their Israeli citizenship, and their children
usually become Israeli citizens. In addition, children born in
the United States to Israeli parents usually acquire both U.S.
and Israeli nationality at birth. Israeli citizens, including
dual nationals, are subject to Israeli laws requiring service
in Israel's armed forces. U.S.-Israeli dual nationals of military
age who do not wish to serve in the Israeli armed forces should
contact the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. to learn more
about an exemption or deferment from Israeli military service
before going to Israel. Without this document, they may not be
able to leave Israel without completing military service or may
be subject to criminal penalties for failure to serve. Israeli
citizens, including dual nationals, must enter and depart Israel
on their Israeli passports.
Palestinian Americans whom the Government of Israel considers
residents of the West Bank or Gaza may face certain travel restrictions
(see Entry Requirements above). These individuals are subject
to restrictions on movement between Israel, the West Bank and
Gaza and within the West Bank and Gaza imposed by the Israeli
Government on all Palestinians for security reasons. During periods
of heightened security concerns these restrictions can be onerous.
Palestinian-American residents of Jerusalem are normally required
to use laissez-passers (documents issued by the Israeli Government)
which contain re-entry permits approved by the Israeli Ministry
All U.S. citizens with dual nationality must enter and depart
the U.S. on their U.S. passports.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Israel has strict security measures
that may affect visitors. Prolonged questioning and detailed searches
may take place at the time of entry and/or departure at all points
of entry to Israel, including entry from the West Bank and Gaza.
Travelers with Arabic surnames, those who ask that Israeli stamps
not be entered into their passports, and unaccompanied female
travelers have been delayed and subjected to close scrutiny at
points of entry. Security-related delays or obstacles in bringing
in or departing with cameras or electronic equipment are not unusual.
Laptop computers and other electronic equipment have been confiscated
from travelers leaving Israel from Ben Gurion Airport during security
checks. While most are returned prior to departure, some equipment
has been damaged, destroyed or lost as a result. Americans who
have had personal property damaged due to security procedures
at Ben Gurion Airport can contact the Commissioner of Complaints
at the airport for redress. During searches and questioning, Israeli
authorities have denied American citizens access to U.S. consular
officers, lawyers, or family members. Palestinian Americans have
been arrested on suspicion of security crimes when attempting
to enter or leave Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli
National Police have monitored, arrested and deported members
of religious groups who they believed intended to commit violent
or disruptive acts in Israel.
TERRORISM: Although they have not been targeted for attack,
U.S. citizens have been injured or killed in past terrorist actions
in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Attacks have occurred
in highly frequented shopping and pedestrian areas and on public
buses. U.S. Embassy and Consulate employees and their families
have been prohibited from using public buses. American citizens
should exercise extreme caution and avoid shopping areas, pedestrian
walkways, malls, public buses and bus stops as well as crowded
areas and demonstrations.
American citizens should use caution in the vicinity of military
sites, areas frequented by off-duty soldiers, contentious religious
sites, and large crowds. Travelers should remain aware of their
immediate surroundings, and should not touch any suspicious object.
DEMONSTRATIONS AND CIVIL UNREST: In the West Bank, Gaza
and Jerusalem, demonstrations or altercations can occur spontaneously
and have the potential to become violent without warning. If such
disturbances occur, American visitors should leave the area immediately.
In Jerusalem's Old City, where exits are limited, American visitors
should seek safe haven inside a shop or restaurant until the incident
is over. Demonstrations are particularly dangerous in areas such
as checkpoints, settlements, military areas, and major thoroughfares
where protesters are likely to encounter Israeli security forces.
Demonstrations by Arab Israelis in northern Israel have occurred
on Land Day (March 30) and on Israeli Independence Day (date varies).
These demonstrations have generally been peaceful, but on occasion
Embassy staff have been told to avoid certain areas on those dates.
AREAS OF INSTABILITY: Jerusalem: In Jerusalem, travelers
should exercise caution at religious sites on holy days, Fridays,
Saturdays, and Sundays. 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 and Saturdays. Assaults on secular visitors, either for
being in cars or for being "immodestly dressed," have
occurred in these neighborhoods. Isolated street protests and
demonstrations can occur in the commercial districts of East Jerusalem
(Salah Eddin Street and Damascus Gate areas) during periods of
unrest. U.S. Government employees have been prohibited from traveling
to the commercial areas of East Jerusalem, including the Old City,
except for mission essential business. Private American citizens
should avoid travel to these areas at this time.
West Bank and Gaza: The U.S. Government currently prohibits U.S.
Government employees, officials, and dependents from traveling
to the West Bank and Gaza, except for mission essential business.
Private American citizens should avoid travel to these areas at
this time. Embassy staff have also been prohibited from using
Rt. 443 (the Modi'in Road) in Israel to travel to Jerusalem.
During periods of unrest, access to the West Bank and Gaza are
sometimes closed off by the Israeli government. Travel restrictions
may be imposed with little or no warning. Strict measures have
frequently been imposed following terrorist actions and the movement
of Palestinian Americans with residency status in the West Bank
or Gaza and foreign passport holders have been severely impaired
In the Golan Heights, there are live land mines in many areas
and visitors should walk only on established roads or trails.
Near the northern border of Israel, rocket attacks from Lebanese
territory can occur without warning.
CRIME: The crime rate is moderate in Israel, Jerusalem,
the West Bank and Gaza. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad
should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest
U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department
of State's pamphlets, A
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa. They
are available from
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, DC 20402, via the internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
MEDICAL FACILITIES: 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 U.S. standards.
Travelers can find information in English about emergency medical
facilities and after-hours pharmacies in the "Jerusalem Post"
and English language "Ha'aretz" newspapers.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior
to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas
and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs
incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage
is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance
plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including
emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical
insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving.
When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad,
or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Travelers from regions where
contagious diseases are prevalent may need to show shot records
before entry into Israel. Information on vaccinations and other
health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP
(1-877-394-8747), fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by
visiting the CDC
Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, 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.
Safety of Public Transportation: good*
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: good
*U.S. Embassy and Consulate employees and their families have
been prohibited from using public buses (please review the earlier
section entitled "Terrorism.")
Israeli roads and highways tend to be crowded, especially in
urban areas. Aggressive driving is a serious problem and few drivers
maintain safe following distances. Drivers should use caution,
as there is a high rate of fatalities from automobile accidents.
For specific information concerning Israeli driver's permits,
vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact
Ministry of Tourism office in New York via the internet at
West Bank and Gaza:
Safety of Public Transportation: poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: poor
Crowded roads and aggressive driving are common in the West Bank
and Gaza. During periods of heightened tensions, cars with Israeli
license plates have been stoned. Emergency services may be delayed
by the need for Palestinian authorities to coordinate with Israeli
officials. Seat belt use is required outside of cities, drivers
may not drink alcohol, and travel by motorcycle is not allowed.
Individuals involved in accidents resulting in death or injury
may be detained by police pending an investigation.
additional information about road safety, see the Department
of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page road safety overseas
feature at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
has assessed the Government of Israel's Civil Aviation Authority
as Category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety
standards for oversight of Israel's air carrier operations. For
further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation
within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA's website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.html. The
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign
air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Video cameras and other electronic
items must be declared upon entry to Israel. Please contact the
Embassy of Israel for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Definitive information on customs requirements for the Palestinian
Authority is not available.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Individuals traveling
to the West Bank and Gaza through Israel or Israeli-controlled
entry points are also subject to Israeli law and jurisdiction.
Persons violating Israel's or the Palestinian Authority's laws,
even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties
for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Israel
are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and
heavy fines. The Palestinian Authority also has strict penalties
for the possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs by persons
visiting or residing in its jurisdiction.
ARRESTS AND DETENTION: U.S. citizens arrested by the Israeli
National Police (INP) in Israel and charged with crimes are entitled
to legal representation and consular notification and visitation.
Typically the INP notifies the Embassy or Consulate General within
two days of arrest, and consular access is normally granted within
four days. This procedure may be expedited if the arrested American
shows a U.S. passport to the police, or asks the police to contact
the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
U.S. citizens arrested by the Israeli Security Police for security
offenses, and U.S. citizens arrested in the West Bank or Gaza
for criminal or security offenses may be prevented from communicating
with lawyers, family members, or consular officers for lengthy
periods. The U.S. Consulate General and the Embassy are often
not notified of such arrests, or are not notified in a timely
manner. Consular access to the arrested individual is frequently
delayed. U.S. citizens have been subject to mistreatment during
interrogation and pressured to sign statements in Hebrew which
have not been translated. Under local law they may be detained
for up to six months at a time without charges. Youths over the
age of 14 have been detained and tried as adults. When access
to a detained American citizen is denied or delayed, the U.S.
government formally protests the lack of consular access to the
Israeli government. The U.S. Government also will protest any
mistreatment to the relevant authorities as well.
U.S. citizens arrested by the Palestinian Authority (PA) Security
Forces in the West Bank or Gaza for crimes are entitled to legal
representation and consular notification and access. The PA Security
Forces normally notify the Embassy (for Gaza) or Consulate General
(for West Bank) within two days of arrest and consular access
is normally granted within four days. This procedure may be expedited
if the arrested American shows a U.S. passport to the police,
or asks the police to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
U.S. citizens arrested by the PA Security Forces in the West
Bank or Gaza for security offenses may be prevented from communicating
with lawyers, family members, or consular officers for lengthy
periods. In addition, they may be held in custody for protracted
periods without formal charges or before being taken in front
of a judge for an arrest extension. The U.S. Consulate General
is often not notified by the PA of the arrests in a timely manner,
and consular access to the arrested is occasionally delayed. The
U.S. Government does not have a formal mechanism for protesting
these delays in notification or access to the Palestinian Authority;
however, our concerns are pursued with local PA officials.
COURT JURISDICTION: Civil courts in Israel actively exercise
their authority to bar certain individuals, including nonresidents,
from leaving the country until monetary and other legal claims
against them can be resolved. Israel's rabbinical courts exercise
jurisdiction over all Jewish citizens and residents of Israel
in cases of marriage, divorce, child custody and child support.
In some cases, Jewish Americans who entered Israel as tourists
have become defendants in divorce cases filed by their spouses
in Israeli rabbinical courts. These Americans have been detained
in Israel for prolonged periods while the Israeli courts consider
whether they have sufficient ties to Israel to establish rabbinical
court jurisdiction. Jewish American 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 rabbinical court, even if
their marriage took place in the U.S. and/or their spouse is not
present in Israel.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on the international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/childrens-issues.html or telephone:
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: The State
Department advises American citizens who plan to be in the region
for over a month to register at the
U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv or the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem.
E-mail registration for the U.S. Embassy is possible at firstname.lastname@example.org
and for the U.S. Consulate
General at email@example.com. When registering, U.S.
citizens can obtain updated information on travel and security
in the area.
U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel is located at 71 Hayarkon
Street. The U.S. mailing address is PSC 98, Box 0001, APO AE 09830.
The telephone number is (972)(3) 519-7575. The number after 4:30
p.m. and before 8:00 a.m. local time is (972)(3) 519-7551. The
fax number is (972)(3) 516-4390. The
Embassy's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org and its Internet
web page is http://consular.usembassy-israel.org.il.
The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy should be contacted
for information and help in the following areas: Israel, the Gaza
Strip, the Golan Heights and ports of entry at Ben Gurion Airport,
Gaza International Airport, Haifa Port, and the northern (Jordan
River) and southern (Arava) border crossings connecting Israel
Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem
is located at 27 Nablus Road. The U.S. mailing address is Unit
7228, Box 0039, APO AE 09830. The telephone number is (972)(2)
622-7200. The number after 4:30 p.m. and before 8:00 a.m. local
time is (972)(2) 622-7250. The fax number is (972)(2) 627-2233.
The Consulate's e-mail
address is email@example.com and its Internet web page is
The U.S. Consulate General should be contacted for information
and help in the following areas: West and East Jerusalem, the
West Bank, and the Allenby Bridge border crossing connecting Jordan
with the West Bank.
There is a U.S. Consular Agent in Haifa at 26 Ben Gurion Boulevard,
telephone (972)(4) 853-1470, who reports to the Embassy in Tel
Aviv. The Consular Agent can provide routine and emergency services
in the north.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated April 18,
2001 to reflect the most recent Travel Warning and updated information
on safety and security.