EXERCISE INCREASED CAUTION IN ISRAEL DUE TO TERRORISM. SOME AREAS HAVE INCREASED RISK.
Do not travel to:
- Gaza due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.
Reconsider travel to:
- The West Bank due to terrorism, potentially violent civil unrest, and the potential for armed conflict.
Note: this page contains basic risk information. For more details, please contact the Risk Services Office at email@example.com.
If you are traveling to West Bank and Gaza on University-related business, please sign up for the University’s travel insurance program by going here. For more information on the travel insurance program, please go here.
Because everyone’s health is unique, we suggest seeking the advice of a medical professional before traveling internationally. Members of the campus community interested in protecting their health while abroad may schedule an appointment with the University Health Services International Travel Clinic.
Terrorist groups and lone-wolf terrorists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Jerusalem and the West Bank without warning.
U.S. government personnel can travel freely in Israel, except to areas in close proximity to Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. Travel of U.S. government personnel is extremely limited throughout the West Bank, and occasionally portions of Jerusalem are off limits to personnel. The U.S. government prohibits its employees from traveling Gaza.
Jerusalem: Violent clashes, protests, and terror attacks have occurred throughout the city, including in the Old City. Acts of terrorism have resulted in death and injury to bystanders, including U.S. citizens. During periods of unrest, the Government of Israel may restrict access to and within portions of Jerusalem.
West Bank: U.S. government travel throughout the West Bank is extremely limited.
Terror attacks and violent clashes in the West Bank have resulted in the deaths and injury of U.S. citizens and others. During periods of unrest, the Government of Israel may restrict access to and within the West Bank, and some areas may be placed under curfew.
Gaza: The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Gaza as U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling there.
Hamas, a U.S. government-designated foreign terrorist organization, controls security in Gaza. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile.
Demonstrations occur on a frequent basis and may turn violent without warning.
Sporadic mortar or rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military responses may occur at any time.
U.S. government employees are not allowed to travel to Gaza and are restricted from traveling close to the Gaza demarcation line.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws and legal systems, which can be vastly different from our own. If you violate Israeli or Palestinian laws, even unknowingly, being a U.S. citizen will not help you to avoid arrest or prosecution. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking illegal drugs in Israel and PA-administered areas are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Individuals expressing views, including on social media, which the Government of Israel considers incitement to violence or hate speech may face criminal penalties. Palestinian Authority security officials have also arrested and abused Palestinians who posted criticism of the PA online, including on their Facebook pages. In Gaza, individuals publicly criticizing authorities have risked reprisal by Hamas, including arrest, interrogation, seizure of property, and harassment.
Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law.
Arrests and Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the Embassy or the Embassy Branch Office immediately.
Arrests and Arrest Notification by Israel:
- The Government of Israel is required by a bilateral treaty and customary international law to promptly notify the U.S. Embassy when a U.S. citizen is arrested if the citizen identifies him/herself as a U.S. citizen and requests that the U.S. Embassy be notified. In practice, however, Israeli authorities often fail to provide notification, particularly in the case of resident Israeli-Americans and Palestinian-Americans, which limits the ability of the U.S. government to provide timely consular assistance. In case of arrest or detention, U.S. citizens should promptly identify themselves as such to the arresting authorities and request that the authorities notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. There are credible reports that U.S. citizens have been mistreated by Israeli security forces during their arrest and interrogation, including suffering injuries that required hospitalization.
- Some youths over the age of 14 have been detained and tried as adults. Arrestees have reported pressure to sign documents in Hebrew that they do not understand.
- U.S. citizens arrested in Israel for criminal or security offenses are entitled to legal representation provided by the Israeli government. U.S. citizens arrested by Israeli authorities for security offenses may be prevented from communicating with lawyers, family members, or consular officers for lengthy periods. Even after notification, consular access to the arrested individual may be delayed for days to several weeks. Under Israeli law, individuals detained for security offenses may be held for up to six months without charges.
Arrests and Arrest Notification by the Palestinian Authority (PA):
- Individuals arrested by PA security forces in the West Bank for security offenses may be prohibited from communicating with lawyers, family members, or consular officers for lengthy periods. In addition, they may be held in custody for long periods without formal charges or before being brought before a judge for an arrest extension. The PA often does not notify the U.S. Embassy of such arrests, and consular access to arrestees is often delayed or denied. In case of arrest or detention, U.S. citizens should promptly identify themselves as such to the arresting authorities and should request that the U.S. Embassy be notified immediately.
Gaza: Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the Hamas Executive Forces (EF) have dominated security matters in Gaza. The U.S. government has no contact with the EF and cannot assist those arrested in Gaza.
Court Jurisdiction: Civil and religious courts in Israel actively exercise their authority to bar certain individuals, including nonresidents, from leaving the country until debts or other legal claims against them are resolved. Israel's religious courts exercise jurisdiction over all citizens and residents of Israel in cases of marriage, divorce, child custody, and child support. U.S. citizens, including those without Israeli citizenship, should be aware that they may be subject to involuntary and prolonged stays (and even imprisonment) in Israel if a case is filed against them in a religious court, even if their marriage took place in the United States, and regardless of whether their spouse is present in Israel.
LGBTI Rights: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) events in Israel. Israeli anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTI individuals. Acceptance and tolerance of LGBTI people varies throughout the country and from neighborhood to neighborhood. As of August 2014, the Law of Return allows that same-sex spouses of Jews immigrating to Israel –known as “making Aliyah” -- are eligible to make Aliyah with their spouses and receive Israeli citizenship.
The legal systems in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are based on the 1960 Jordanian penal code which prohibits consensual same-sex sexual activity. However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not prosecuted individuals suspected of such activity. Societal discrimination based on cultural and religious traditions is commonplace, making the West Bank and Gaza challenging environments for LGBTI persons. Some Palestinians have claimed PA security officers harassed, abused, and sometimes arrested LGBTI individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. NGOs reported Hamas also harassed and detained persons in Gaza due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBTI travelers are encouraged to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings, especially when entering religious or socially conservative areas.