Certain areas in Israel have always had a higher threat from terrorism than other parts of the world but tensions have grown recently following US President Donald Trump announcing his intention to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As the status of this religiously significant city has long been under dispute with both Palestinians and Israelis claiming it as their capital, Trump’s announcement sparked protests and unrest as well as a claim of action from militant group Hamas. Violence has already broken out in some areas where Palestinian protesters have clashed with Israeli security forces. Clearly, travel to this region is affected and the British government have issued a number of guidelines.
Places to Avoid
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have issued advice that some areas in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories should be avoided by travellers altogether. They recommend staying away from Gaza, the Sheba’a Farms and Ghajjar and within 500m of the border with Lebanon east of Metula, including the northern edge of the town, east of Route 98 along the Syrian border and the Old City of Jerusalem during the planned protests on 7th and 8th December but still see this area as potentially dangerous. They recommend keeping watch on local news channels to find out where demonstrations are taking place so you can avoid them.
Areas Where Flare Ups are Likely
Recently, there have been clashes in numerous areas around Israel and the West Bank, including Tel Aviv, East Jerusalem and the Old City (particularly the Damascus Gate and Lion’s Gate areas) and Hebron. Incidents have also occurred along Route 60 within the West Bank (the main road connecting Jerusalem with Nablus and Hebron) and along Route 443 between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It’s best to avoid these areas if possible or remain extra vigilant if this isn’t possible as they have seen violence involving throwing stones, stabbings, shootings, vehicle ramming and arson.
Authorities are warning travellers to be extra careful around the Qalandiya checkpoint between East Jerusalem and Ramallah, in areas close to refugee camps, in and around Israeli settlements and in the cities of Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah. The northern West Bank area has also seen violent incidents recently so extra vigilance is advised. If you are travelling near Gaza or the border with Syria, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the safety procedures in event of rocket fire as rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel from these areas in the past and extra care is advisable when travelling to the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee due to the threat from Syria. Unrest sometimes occurs along the border with Egypt too so extra caution is advised when travelling along Route 10 which runs close to the border and is sometimes closed by Israeli authorities.
Being aware of times when tensions are likely to be high is also a good idea as potential flare ups can happen around Jewish holidays and after Friday prayers. After Trump’s announcement, violence broke out after Friday prayers so this is a good time to avoid being out and about. Travellers are also advised to avoid public transport in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv if possible but to be extra careful if you have to use that form of transport.
The latest travel advice from the UK Government can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/israel. They also advise purchasing appropriate travel and medical insurance before travel. Click here for a travel insurance quote from ERV.