Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
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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 security situation may change rapidly.
Gaza Strip - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the Gaza Strip, due to continuing conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terrorists, such as Hamas, and the possible resumption of armed hostilities. See Safety and Security for more information.
West Bank - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the West Bank, excluding Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem, due to the unpredictable security situation. See Safety and Security for more information.
The border with the Gaza strip - Avoid non-essential travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, due to the risk of rocket and mortar fire, gunfire and military activity.
See Safety and security for more information.
Border with Syria - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the parts of the Golan Heights that border Syria, that is, east of Highway 98 - with the exception of the urban communities of Buq’ata, Majdal Shams and Mas’ada - due to increased militant and Israel Defense Forces activity.
See Safety and security for more information.
Regions of Israel bordering Egypt - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the regions of Israel bordering Egypt, as the security situation could deteriorate rapidly and there is a threat of kidnapping.
See Safety and security for more information.
Border with Lebanon - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to within 500 metres of the border with Lebanon, due to military activity.
See Safety and security for more information.
Jerusalem - Exercise a high degree of caution
You should exercise a high degree of caution in Jerusalem due to protests and clashes between protestors and local authorities in East Jerusalem and parts of the Old City, and politically motivated attacks and violence throughout the city.
Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah - Exercise a high degree of caution
You should exercise a high degree of caution in the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah as the security situation can change rapidly.
Safety and security
Safety and security
The Gaza Strip (see Advisory)
Hostilities between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and terrorist groups, including Hamas, in the Gaza Strip could resume and the security situation could deteriorate with little or no notice. Remain aware of your surroundings, stay informed of the security situation and follow instructions 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 in the Gaza Strip is limited.
The security situation along the Mediterranean coast of the Gaza Strip remains dangerous. Since May 2010, Israeli security forces have intercepted attempts to breach Israel’s naval blockade. These incidents have resulted in deaths, injuries, arrests and deportations. 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 do so. 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 in Tel Aviv or the Representative Office of Canada in Ramallah.
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. 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. As well, the IDF conduct military operations in the area.
Regions of Israel bordering Egypt (see Advisory)
The security situation could deteriorate rapidly, specifically on Highway 10 between the Sayarim Valley and the Kerem Shalom border crossing and on Highway 12 between Eilat and the Netafim border crossing.
The highways are subject to closure by Israeli authorities without warning. Attacks occur and the area is dangerous, as the security situation may deteriorate at any time. There is an increased risk of kidnapping on these highways.
Border with Lebanon (see Advisory)
Israel and Lebanon have not agreed on an international border. The United Nations enforces the “Blue Line,” which separates the two countries but has not been fully demarcated. Areas adjacent to the Blue Line are often heavily mined. The areas of Ghajar, Kfar Shouba Hills and Shebaa Farms are inaccessible and the border with Lebanon is closed.
Protests and demonstrations have become common in East Jerusalem and parts of the Old City, many of which lead to clashes between protestors and local authorities, particularly at the Temple Mount (or Haram al-Sharif) on Fridays. Jerusalem has also seen an increased number of attacks targeting civilians. 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 on religious holidays, exacerbated tensions can lead to security incidents. Limit your movement in 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 (see Advisory)
Several West Bank cities have experienced violent demonstrations and civil unrest, which have led to clashes between Israeli and Palestinian security services. The situation remains unpredictable. Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness, monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities.
Tensions in some areas of the West Bank are high. Violent clashes, demonstrations and military operations occur. There are periodic Israeli security operations targeting individuals in cities and villages throughout the West Bank, particularly in Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Qalqiliyya, Tulkarem and the refugee camps. It is not possible to travel without passing through multiple Israeli military checkpoints, where there may be a greater threat of violent confrontations. Areas in the vicinity of the barrier separating Israel and the West Bank are particularly high-risk. Travel only during the daytime and do not stay in the West Bank overnight.
Clashes may occur between Israeli settlers and Palestinians.
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 alternate 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.
Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah (West Bank)
Although violence is not as common in Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah, there have been violent incidents, including clashes involving Palestinians, the IDF and Palestinian security forces. The potential for political demonstrations and military incursions is high, and heightened security measures have been put in place. Exercise a high degree of caution, avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Cities across Israel may be targeted by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have reached Hadera, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, 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 IDF’s Home Front Command.
While hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah forces were suspended following the 2006 conflict, stability in the northern region of Israel could deteriorate rapidly and without notice. Rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel have reached Kiryat Shmona and Shlomi. There is strong potential for future incidents.
Terrorist incidents causing numerous deaths and injuries have occurred in a variety of locations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as well as Beersheva, Eilat, Haifa, Netanya and other major populated centres, including at tourist sites, on public transportation and in other public areas. Foreigners have been affected but have never been directly targeted. There is potential for further violence. Incidents are unpredictable and there is a strong risk that you could find yourself in the middle of a dangerous situation.
Politically motivated violence has occurred throughout Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Previous incidents resulting in injury and death include random stabbings, shootings, vehicle ramming and stone throwing at vehicles. Expect tighter security measures and an increased security presence in the Old City, in East Jerusalem and throughout Israel. Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times.
Police and security forces are on heightened alert. Exercise a high degree of caution when using public transportation and after incidents of violence, at public funerals and during religious holidays. Following incidents of politically motivated violence, the Government of Israel may establish checkpoints without warning. Avoid crossing checkpoints on foot, or in a Palestinian public bus. 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.
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 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, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. 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 a high degree of caution when using public transportation, as terrorist and politically motivated violence has occurred (see Terrorism above). Consider alternate transportation methods if you are planning to use Israeli public buses in the West Bank (also known as “settlement buses”), public buses in Israel other than the East Jerusalem Palestinian bus system, and the Jerusalem Light Rail Train.
There is a high rate of traffic fatalities, due to erratic driving habits and frequent accidents.
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 and may result in road closures
Access to the West Bank is controlled by the IDF through a series of military checkpoints. Even if you have a valid visa and authorization to enter the West Bank, there is 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. If you are planning to enter the West Bank with a rented vehicle, verify your insurance coverage and permissions with your car rental agency.
Vehicles with Palestinian licence plates are not permitted to enter Israel.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General safety information
Carry your passport at all times and register with the Embassy of Canada to Israel in Tel Aviv. Travellers using Israeli airlines should expect enhanced security screening procedures, which may result in delays.
There are frequent disruptions in telephone, power and water services in the Gaza Strip.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the authorities of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with Embassy of Israel, one of its consulates or the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs for up-to-date information.
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.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives 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.
Other entry requirements
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 issues an entry card on arrival.
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 Canadian embassy’s ability to intervene may be limited in these situations.
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 exit 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.
If you are a Canadian of Palestinian descent, be aware of border control policies affecting entry to and exit from Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip prior to travel, as you may be 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 Jordan at the Allenby (King Hussein) Bridge, near Jericho, Israel.
Canadians of Palestinian descent born in the West Bank or Gaza after 1967 will be registered in the Government of Israel’s West Bank or Gaza Population Registries. They are required to obtain or present Palestinian identification documents, which limits them to entering Israel via the Allenby (King Hussein) Bridge. The Israeli government strictly implements 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
The West Bank is divided into three administrative divisions, which fall under varying degrees of administrative and security control between Palestinian and Israeli authorities.
Israel controls entry to and exit from the West Bank. In some circumstances, you may be denied entry into the West Bank by Israel. Contact Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the closest Israeli embassy for more information.
Ensure that you have the proper and up-to-date identification, travel documentation and authorization if you are travelling to or residing in the West Bank.
Travel to and from the Gaza Strip
Entry to and exit from the Gaza Strip is severely restricted. All border crossings have been closed to the general public since June 2007. Palestinian-Canadians should note that they are permitted to enter and exit 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
Entry visas are available at the Arava (Wadi al-’Arabah in Arabic) crossing near Eilat in the south and at the Jordan River (Sheikh Hussein Bridge) crossing near Beit She’an in the north.
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.
Canadians have been denied entry into Lebanon, Syria and other countries because their passports bore an Israeli visa, an Israeli border stamp or 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.
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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.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* 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.
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 for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers 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 and Jerusalem. 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 and 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 Jerusalem and from Sunday 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, as well as drinking and driving are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.
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.
You must declare and register video cameras and laptop computers, among other items, with Israeli authorities on entry to ensure that they can be exported with you 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; consider whether you need to travel with a laptop computer when departing from Ben Gurion International Airport.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Israel. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you an Israeli citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present an Israeli passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The Palestinian Authority recognizes dual citizenship. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Palestinian citizen. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk, unless there are legal requirements to use Palestinian travel documents, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements).
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. Assaults on visitors travelling in cars on Shabbat (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) or who are immodestly dressed have occurred in Jerusalem’s Old City and ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods.
During periods of religious holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Pesach (Passover) and Ramadan (see below), stay informed of the security situation, follow the advice of authorities, respect local customs, and monitor local news reports for changes to checkpoint and border-crossing hours of operation.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), refrain from drinking, eating and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Ramadan is expected to begin on or around June 6, 2016. 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 laws of the Gaza Strip prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Other related offences include being in a same-sex marriage. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
The currency is the new Israeli Shekel (ILS). Credit cards are widely accepted in Israel and Jerusalem, as well as areas of the West Bank frequented by tourists. Credit cards are not widely accepted in the Gaza Strip. The Jordanian dinar (JOD) is widely accepted throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Automated banking machines are available, but may not accept Canadian cards. Canadian currency and traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are located in an active seismic zone. There have been no major earth tremors in recent years.
Sandstorms occur in spring and summer.
Flooding is common during the winter and may result in road closures.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 100
- medical assistance: 101
- firefighters: 102
Tel Aviv - Embassy of Canada
Ramallah - Representative Office of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the the Representative Office of Canada in Ramallah or the Embassy of Canada in Tel Aviv and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are 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 to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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