Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
- Last updated:
- Still valid:
- Latest updates:
- The Laws & Culture tab was updated – Ramadan.
ISRAEL - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Israel. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution as the situation can change rapidly.
Regional Advisory for the Gaza Strip
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the Gaza Strip, due to continuing conflict between Israel and Hamas and Gaza-based terrorists, and the possible resumption of armed hostilities. See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for the border with the Gaza Strip
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, due to the risk of rocket and mortar launches, gunfire and military activity. See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for the Syrian border
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the parts of the Golan Heights that border Syria, east of Highway 98 – with the exception of the urban communities of Buq'ata, Mas'ada and Majdal Shams – due to increased militant and Israeli Defence Forces activity. See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for the regions of Israel bordering Egypt
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the regions bordering Egypt as the security situation could deteriorate rapidly and there is an increase threat of kidnapping. See Security for more information.
Jerusalem - NO ADVISORY
There is no advisory in effect for Jerusalem. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to protests and clashes between protestors and local authorities in East Jerusalem and parts of the Old City, and terrorist and other violent attacks in various public locations. See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for the West Bank, excluding Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to the West Bank, excluding Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem, due to the unpredictable security situation. See Security for more information.
Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem (West Bank) - NO ADVISORY
There is no advisory in effect for Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem (West Bank). However, you should exercise a high degree of caution as the potential for political demonstrations and military incursions remains. See Security for more information
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Cities across Israel may be targeted by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Rockets fired from Gaza have reached Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Hadera, and have also struck close to Haifa, located approximately 150 km north of the Gaza border. Rocket fire from Lebanon, Egypt and Syria has also targeted northern Israel, Eilat and the Golan Heights. Follow safety advice and instructions from the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF’s) Home Front Command.
The Gaza Strip (see Advisory)
From July to August 2014, the IDF carried out a military operation in the Gaza Strip, during which it conducted air strikes and a ground operation. Although a cease-fire was declared on August 27, 2014, hostilities could be renewed and the security situation in the Gaza Strip could deteriorate with little or no notice. Remain aware of your surroundings, stay informed of the security situation and follow directives from the IDF’s Home Front Command.
Border areas with Israel are particularly dangerous. Border crossings to and from the Gaza Strip are controlled by Israeli and Egyptian authorities, and are subject to unexpected, sometimes long-term closures. You may not be able to exit the Gaza Strip even if you are in possession of valid entry and exit permits.
There is a high risk of kidnapping in the Gaza Strip and foreigners may be targeted. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.
The Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular services to Canadians who remain in the Gaza Strip is currently very limited.
The security situation along the coast of Gaza remains dangerous and volatile. In May 2010, an attempt to breach the naval blockade along the coast of Gaza was intercepted by Israeli security forces and resulted in deaths, injuries, arrests and deportations. Similar attempts to breach the naval blockade have taken place since. You are strongly advised against participating in any attempt to break the naval blockade. Canadian officials may not be able to provide you with consular assistance if you choose to participate in the flotilla. Participants may be detained by Israeli officials prior to their deportation. In cases of deportation, local authorities are not obliged to notify the Canadian embassy.
Border with the Gaza Strip (see Advisory)
From June to August 2014, rocket and mortar launches, gunfire and military activity increased significantly in the areas of Israel surrounding the Gaza Strip. Although rockets fired from Gaza can reach Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Hadera and Haifa, cities and towns within 40 km of the Gaza Strip, such as Ashdod and Beersheva, are most likely to suffer material damages and casualties.
Syrian Border (see Advisory)
Do not travel east of Highway 98, except to the urban communities of Buq'ata, Mas'ada and Majdal Shams, and do not approach the Israeli barrier in the Golan Heights that borders Syria. Increased militant activity close to the Israeli barrier in the Golan Heights, including the use of improvised explosive devices, and attempts to penetrate the barrier from the Syrian side, make the area extremely dangerous. Cross-border gunfire could occur without warning, and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) conduct military operations in the area.
Regions of Israel bordering Egypt (see Advisory)
The security situation could deteriorate rapidly and there is an increase threat of kidnapping, specifically on Highway 10 between the Sayarim Valley and the Kerem Shalom Border Crossing; and Highway 12 between Eilat and the Netafim Border Crossing.
The highways are subject to closure without warning by Israeli authorities. Attacks occur and the area remains dangerous. The security situation has the potential to deteriorate at any time. There is an increased risk of kidnapping on these highways.
Protests and demonstrations have become increasingly common in East Jerusalem and parts of the Old City, and many lead to clashes between protestors and local authorities. There is an increased police presence in some areas of Jerusalem, and security forces are on heightened alert. Exercise a high degree of caution at all times. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, as they may turn violent without notice. Monitor news reports, and follow the advice of local authorities.
During periods of imposed movement restrictions and religious holidays, as well as when national developments may have an impact on the local population, tensions may be exacerbated and lead to security incidents. Limit your movement to the Old City during such periods. Travel in groups and dress conservatively at all times. Demonstrations can occur in religious neighbourhoods and sometimes result in clashes between residents and the local police. Traffic may also be disrupted.
West Bank, excluding Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem (see Advisory)
Since early July, several West Bank cities have experienced violent demonstrations and civil unrest, which have led to clashes between police and protesters. The situation remains volatile. Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness, monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities.
There is a potential for inter-factional tension, demonstrations and military operations in the West Bank. There are frequent police and military operations targeting militants in cities and villages throughout the West Bank, particularly in Nablus, Jenin, Qalqiliyya, Tulkarem and the refugee camps. It is not possible to travel without passing through multiple Israeli military checkpoints. There is a threat of demonstrations and violent outbreaks occurring in areas near checkpoints. Areas in the vicinity of the barrier separating the West Bank and Israel are particularly high-risk. Travel only during the daytime and do not stay overnight.
In Hebron and in other parts of the West Bank, there remains potential for violence between settlers and Palestinians or between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.
There is a high risk of kidnapping in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin. Foreigners have been kidnapped in the past. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.
If you are travelling to the West Bank despite this advice, ensure that you have appropriate security measures in place to protect yourself, as well as alternative travel arrangements in case of a rapid deterioration in the security situation. Carry your passport at all times, register and maintain contact with the Representative Office of Canada in Ramallah, keep a low profile, monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem (West Bank)
The level of violence in these three cities has remained relatively low compared to other areas of the West Bank in recent years. Nevertheless, the potential for political demonstrations and military incursions remains. Exercise a high degree of caution, avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to regions near the border with Lebanon. While a cessation of hostilities remains in effect between Israel and Hezbollah forces following the 2006 conflict, stability in the northern region of Israel could deteriorate rapidly without notice. Rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel have reached Shlomi and Kiryat Shmona. Although tensions have subsided since the 2006 conflict, there is still a strong potential for future incidents.
The security situation in the areas near the border with Syria is also unpredictable and could change without warning.
In past years, terrorist incidents have occurred in a variety of locations in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat, Haifa, Beersheba, Netanya and other major populated centres, including at tourist sites, on public transportation and in other public areas, causing numerous deaths and injuries. Foreigners have been affected but have never been directly targeted. There is potential for further violence. Incidents could be unpredictable and there is a strong risk that you could find yourself in the middle of a dangerous situation.
On October 22, 2014 pedestrians were run-over by vehicles in terrorist attacks near Light Rail stations in West Jerusalem, resulting in fatalities. On October 29, a man was shot outside a conference hall. Several other terrorist attacks in mid-November 2014 caused fatalities in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and other parts of Israel. Such attacks are likely to continue. Five people were killed and several injured during a terrorist attack on a synagogue in West Jerusalem on November 18. On November 10, two knife attacks in Tel Aviv and the West Bank left a soldier and a civilian dead, as well as several wounded. The first stabbing took place outside the entrance to the Hagana train station in south Tel Aviv. A few hours later, a woman was stabbed to death and three others were badly wounded in a terrorist attack when a man drove into at a bus stop near the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion, got out of his car and began randomly stabbing people. On December 3, a terrorist stabbed and seriously injured two people in a supermarket in the Mishor Adumim Industrial Park, east of Jerusalem. These incidents followed a spate of terror attacks in recent weeks. Rioting and stone and Molotov-cocktail throwing are on the rise in Jerusalem, the West Bank and in some Arab-Israeli villages.
Police and security forces are on heightened alert. Exercise a high degree of caution when using public transportation, and after incidents of violence, public funerals and religious holidays, or when national developments may affect the local population.
Following terrorist incidents, the Government of Israel may establish checkpoints without warning. Exercise caution in public places, such as open markets and bus stations, stay informed of the security situation, monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
There is a general threat of kidnapping. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.
The crime rate is moderate in Israel but low in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Vehicle theft is a serious problem. Always lock car doors and keep windows closed. Thefts also occur on public beaches. Ensure that your wallet, money and valuables are out of sight, particularly in large crowds and public markets. Violent crime is rare.
Planned and unplanned demonstrations regularly occur in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Demonstrations against the military have taken place in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem; some have turned violent. Exercise particular caution if demonstrations take place around areas such as settlements, checkpoints or military zones.
Avoid crowds, political gatherings and demonstrations as they could turn violent without warning. Monitor news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
Live landmines are present in certain areas, including parts of the West Bank and along Israel’s borders. Some minefields have not been clearly marked or fenced. Walk only on established roads or trails.
Exercise caution as there is a high rate of traffic fatalities. Consult the Israeli Police Traffic Department website for information on traffic laws.
Exercise a high degree of caution when using public transport.
Many of the roads in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are of poor quality. During the winter months, precipitation can cause driving conditions to deteriorate.
The Israel Defense Forces often do not permit vehicles with Israeli licence plates to enter areas of the West Bank. Even if you have a valid visa and authorization to enter the West Bank, there is still no guarantee that the vehicle will be allowed to pass through security checkpoints. You may also be stopped for security checks by Palestinian police within their jurisdiction. Vehicles bearing Israeli plates may be subject to attack in Palestinian areas.
Vehicles with Palestinian licence plates are not permitted to enter Israel.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
Visitors, including dual nationals, should carry their passports at all times and register with the Embassy of Canada in Tel Aviv.
There are frequent disruptions in telephone, power and water services in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Curfews may be imposed with little notice.
Dial 100 for police, 102 for firefighters and 101 for medical emergency services.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Israeli authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Israel or one of its consulates, as well as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Israel, the West Bank and/or the Gaza Strip, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Proof of a return ticket is required.
Tourist visa: Not required
Business visa: Not required
Student visa: Not required
Work visa: Required (must be arranged by Israeli employer)
The Government of Israel has instituted a practice whereby it imposes restrictions on certain visitors to Israel and the West Bank. It has not provided information as to which categories of visitors will be affected by these restrictions. There are reports that the passports of certain travellers have been stamped "Palestinian Authority only" at Allenby Bridge and at Ben Gurion International Airport. The stamp limits these travellers to West Bank destinations only and bars them from entering Israel and Jerusalem. There are also reports of officials at Ben Gurion International Airport requiring certain visitors to sign a form that prohibits them from entering the West Bank, thus limiting their stays to Israel and Jerusalem.
The Government of Israel tightly controls checkpoint crossings within the West Bank and to the Gaza Strip. Security-related closures can severely restrict entry to and exit from these areas, even for persons possessing valid entry and exit permits. Limited hours of operation, unannounced travel restrictions and extended closures often result in large crowds gathering, which may elevate risks to personal safety.
The Embassy of Canada in Israel may be limited in its ability to intervene in these situations.
Video cameras and laptop computers, among other items, must be declared and registered with the Israeli authorities on entry so that they can be re-exported on departure. If you are carrying these items, you must go through the red zone at customs.
Security officials at Ben Gurion International Airport may prohibit you from carrying a laptop computer in the passenger cabin on international flights from Israel. Laptops are frequently sent separately to their destinations. Be aware that the equipment may be lost or damaged. Carefully consider your need to travel with a laptop computer when departing from Ben Gurion International Airport.
Dual Canadian-Israeli citizens
Canadians who were born outside Israel to a mother or father who is an Israeli citizen may be considered citizens of Israel. Israeli law requires Israeli citizens to enter and leave the country on an Israeli passport, and to show proof of military status upon arrival. If you are unsure of your Israeli citizenship and/or your military status, verify it through the Embassy of Israel or an Israeli consulate before leaving Canada.
Canadians of Palestinian origin
If you are a Canadian of Palestinian origin, be aware of border control policies affecting entry to and exit from Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip prior to travel, as you are subject to Government of Israel travel regulations for Palestinians. Anyone registered in the Government of Israel’s West Bank or Gaza Population Registry as a resident of the West Bank or the Gaza Strip is not permitted to enter Israel via Ben Gurion International Airport and must do so only via Allenby Bridge.
You may require a Palestinian Authority travel document if you are a Canadian of Palestinian origin. Failure to present this document may prevent entry to or exit from Israel, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government has been strictly implementing this policy.
There have also been reports of this policy being applied to Canadians born in Arab states or those holding dual Canadian-Arab state citizenship. In these cases, travellers were asked to enter and exit Israel on their Arab passport.
Travel to and from the West Bank
Palestinian authorities may demand that Palestinian documentation be shown on entry or exit.
Israeli authorities may allow exit from these locations only by persons showing Palestinian documentation.
For information on travel to the West Bank, contact the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the closest Israeli embassy, since Israel is the de facto authority responsible for foreign nationals’ entry to and exit from the West Bank. In some circumstances, you may be denied entry into the West Bank by Israel.
In light of Israeli orders pertaining to residency in the West Bank, ensure that you have the proper and up-to-date identification and travel documentation and authorization if you are travelling to or residing in the West Bank. Otherwise, you could be subject to deportation or imprisonment.
Travel to and from the Gaza Strip
There are currently severe restrictions on entry to and exit from the Gaza Strip. All border crossings have effectively been closed since June 2007. Palestinian-Canadians should note that they are permitted to enter and depart the Gaza Strip only through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, when it is open. Non-Palestinians are generally not permitted to use this crossing.
Travel to and from Jordan
Visas can be obtained at the Arava crossing (Wadi al-’Arabah) in the south (near Eilat) and at the Jordan River crossing (Sheikh Hussein Bridge) in the north (near Bet She’an).
Canadian passport holders may also cross at the Allenby (King Hussein) Bridge crossing near Jericho. Visas must be obtained before the date of crossing as they cannot be obtained at the crossing point.
If you are travelling to Israel from other countries in the Middle East, your passport could come under increased scrutiny by Israeli immigration authorities because it bears visa and entry/exit stamps from those countries. Contact the nearest Canadian government office or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa for advice and assistance.
Canadians have been denied entry into Syria, Lebanon and other countries because their passports bore: (a) an Israeli visa; (b) an Israeli border stamp; or (c) an Egyptian or Jordanian border stamp issued by an office bordering Israel (such a stamp would indicate that the traveller entered from Israel).
Health entry requirements
Israeli officials may screen passengers arriving on international flights for the H1N1 flu virus.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
- WHO temporary polio vaccine recommendations - April 21, 2015 13:38 EDT
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - March 20, 2015 14:56 EDT
- Measles: Global Update - March 13, 2015 13:54 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Modern medical care is available in Israel. Standards are generally comparable to those in Canada, but they are lower in some hospitals and private clinics in Israel, as well as in several hospitals in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Medical treatment can be very expensive, and payment in advance is often required.
There is a decompression chamber at Joseph Tal Hospital in Eilat.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
The work week is from Sunday to Friday in Israel, and from Saturday to Thursday in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Illegal or restricted activities
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.
Homosexual activity is illegal in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as is any public display of affection. Common-law relationships are not recognized.
Ask permission before photographing people in Muslim or Orthodox Jewish areas. Do not take photographs of military or police personnel or installations.
Local laws may limit the capacity of the Government of Canada to provide Canadians with Palestinian or Israeli citizenship with consular assistance—including emergency services and departure and evacuation assistance—within Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Religious and social traditions
Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities, especially when visiting religious sites.
Use common sense and discretion in dress and behaviour, particularly in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. People feel strongly about their customs and beliefs. Assaults on visitors who are travelling in cars or immodestly dressed have occurred in Jerusalem’s Old City and ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods on the Sabbath (Friday nights and Saturdays).
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem between sunrise and sunset. Ramadan will commence on June 18, 2014. If you are travelling to these regions, monitor the news regularly for changes to checkpoint and border-crossing hours of operation. If you are transiting through Palestinian neighbourhoods, note that traffic congestion can increase considerably during the pre-sunset hours during Ramadan.
The currency is the new Israeli sheqel (ILS). Credit cards, traveller’s cheques and U.S. dollars are widely accepted. The Jordanian dinar (JOD) is accepted in most areas of the West Bank. Automated banking machines are available. Canadian currency and traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are located in a seismic zone. There have been no major earth tremors in recent years.
Sandstorms occur in spring and summer.
Tel Aviv - Embassy of Canada
Ramallah - Representative Office of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Tel Aviv and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll-free at 014-800-2326-6831.
- Date modified: