Safety in Israel
Safety in Israel is a common concern for travellers in the region, but this is largely caused by explicit media coverage of areas of conflict.
Expats in Israel who take the necessary precautions and avoid problematic areas will find the country as pleasant and safe as many other popular expat destinations.
Terrorism in Israel
There have been a number of terrorist attacks in Israel over the years, and sustained tension between the country and its neighbours has done little to diminish the threat of terrorist attacks. That said, however, Israeli national security is among the most developed in the world, and the Israeli Defense Forces are highly trained and effective. This substantially reduces the risk of terrorist attacks in Israel, especially its heavily populated and touristy areas.
Many foreign governments nevertheless classify Israel as having a high risk of terrorism, advising citizens to remain vigilant at all times and heed the latest travel advice. There are also warnings of risk of kidnapping in and around Gaza, as well as the border between Israel and Egypt.
Threat of rocket attacks in Israel
There have been instances of rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel, usually targeting large metropolitan areas. The chances of this occurring largely depends on relations between Gaza and Israel, so expats must remain up to date at all times.
Over 90 percent of rockets are intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system, which significantly improves the quality of life in its metropolitan areas. Nevertheless, a smartphone app has been developed that warns of potentially incoming missiles and gives time to seek shelter. Expats in Israel should take heed of warning sirens and make sure they know the location of the nearest bomb shelter at all times.
General safety in Israel
Expats in Israel will find that life in cities such as Tel Aviv is relatively peaceful and free from the threats usually associated with a country at war. Violent crime is low in Israel, and foreigners are treated well by the locals.
Expats should nevertheless keep an eye on their valuables when in public places, such as beaches or parks, as petty theft and crimes of opportunity have been known to occur.
Expat women should be aware that Israeli men can often be extremely forward and brazen in their approach to women, especially foreigners. This should not be cause for concern, however, and can usually be overcome by a thick skin and firm declaration of disinterest.
Problematic areas in Israel
Israel’s volatility is largely condensed into a number of key regions, which many government agencies advise their citizens to avoid. Problematic areas in Israel include:
The Gaza region, located in south-west Israel on the Egyptian border, has seen considerable unrest in recent times. Many national governments strongly advise against all travel to Gaza, including to the waters off the coast of the region.
The West Bank, located in eastern Israel, continues to be a rather tense and volatile region. Expats can travel to the west bank, though will need to pass through Israeli military checkpoints. It is therefore advised that expats keep their passport and travel documents on them at all times.
Expats travelling to Jerusalem should note that the eastern half of the city is in the West Bank. Some governments have advised their citizens to stay alert when in eastern Jerusalem and the Old City, as protests and religious demonstrations are common.
Many governmental agencies advise their citizens against travelling to the Golan Heights, which is an area in north-eastern Israel bordering Syria. There have been cases of fire and shelling across the border, making the area potentially unsafe for foreigners and locals alike.
Road safety in Israel
Expats planning to drive in Israel should note that the Israeli driving style is very aggressive. This can be a shock for foreign drivers, and it is often best for those not familiar with the roads to instead rely on public transportation to get around.
Expats driving in Israel should make sure to take out appropriate insurance, especially if driving to the West Bank.
Those driving into the desert should make sure to take plenty of water, a mobile phone and to inform others of their intended route before leaving.
* The security situation in Israel is highly complex and can change suddenly. Expats travelling in and around Israel must keep up to date with the latest news, travel alerts and warnings from the Israeli government.