Are there unsafe areas in Jerusalem, Israel
Security in Israel - How Safe is it to Travel Through the Country?
TheSecurity in Israel is a constant theme for travelers. No wonder, the Israeli-Arab conflict has been providing terrible news for decades. Sometimes one reads about mutual rocket fire around the Gaza Strip, sometimes about clashes between the autonomous Palestinian territories and the Israeli military. And last but not least, the extremely heated minds of Trump's announcement that Jerusalem would be recognized as the capital of Israel.
If you tell friends and relatives about your planned tour through Israel, you will very likely be confronted with horrified looks and open mouths: “There is a war there!”, “You must be tired of life!” Or “Couldn't you just have flown to Mallorca? Why Israel of all places? " These are certainly not uncommon comments from the other person. Of course, one cannot be angry with you, after all the media coverage creates this negative impression. Or have you ever seen pictures of a peaceful market in Jerusalem on television?
What else you should know:
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Bad timing for a trip to Israel
We ourselves had caught extremely bad timing with our tour: A week before the long-awaited flight to Israel, US President Trump announced that Jerusalem would be officially recognized as the capital of Israel. You have to know that the Palestinians also see East Jerusalem as the capital for an independent state of Palestine. This conflict has existed for a very long time, but Trump's decision now pours a lot of oil is fire.
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The media spoke of a very tense situation and some excesses. That unsettled us of course, after all we had planned a stay in Jerusalem and had already booked it. We therefore contacted our hosts in Jerusalem. The answer was just, “Don't worry, it's peaceful here.
The media is just trying to sell somber headlines again ”. So we decided not to cancel the bookings and to see for ourselves on site. If necessary, we would have just gone to Tel Aviv earlier and skipped some places. And the security in Israel? We wanted to find out.
Israel does everything for its security
When you land in Israel, you come into contact with the Israeli security arrangements very early on. Some fellow travelers were "intercepted" on the way from the plane to the gate and asked about their trip to Israel. Anyone who was “lucky” at this point will be pierced with a number of questions at the immigration counter at the latest.
These questions may seem annoying or an obstacle to you, but this is already contributing to the security of Israel. It is best to be prepared for the questions and have booking confirmations and return flight tickets close at hand. You can find more about this here: Entry to Israel. The following questions were asked to us and others upon entry and exit:
- Why are we traveling to Israel?
- How long do we want to stay? (with checking of the return flight ticket)
- Which places in Israel do we want to visit?
- Where are we staying?
- Do we have friends / acquaintances in Israel?
- Did we pack our suitcases ourselves?
- Should we bring something to someone?
- Has the baggage been left unobserved at any point?
- Do we have weapons or objects that could be used as such?
- What do we do for a living?
- What religions do your parents have?
- How much money do you make?
- and so on ...
Is Israel a Safe Country to Travel to?
During your stay in Israel you will be confronted with something that causes puzzled looks among us European tourists: soldiers in civilian clothes armed with machine guns who are also out and about with their rifles in their free time. Unlike ours, the soldiers are allowed to take their weapons home with them. Yes! They even teach to always carry the rifle by one's side - even at night in bed. That may be very unusual for us, but for people in Israel the sight of soldiers and apparent “civilians” with weapons is part of everyday life.
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Occasionally you will also see and hear jet fighters in the sky. What may seem intimidating at first is nothing more than protection for all people in Israel. This also includes the metal detectors and bag checks at the entrances to shopping centers, train stations and tourist attractions. It is precisely because of these safety precautions that Israel is considered a safe country for travelers - regardless of whether you want to travel to Israel on your own or by rental car, are traveling alone as a woman or are planning to enjoy the nightlife in Tel Aviv.
It has to be said that nothing has happened to any tourist in Israel or Palestine in the past 60 years. Objectively speaking, these areas are perfectly safe. There was also an interesting interview with the newspaper “Welt” and the theologian Georg Roessler, who has lived in Jerusalem since 1988. Read the full interview on "Security in Israel" here.
“Let's imagine there was a demonstration with burning car tires in Berlin-Kreuzberg and the entire foreign press were present and reported on it. Wouldn't TV viewers in other countries then also have to think that the whole of Germany was on fire? "Theologian Georg Roessler
"Problem areas" in Israel
Despite all the efforts of the Israeli police and the military, you should avoid some areas or find out about the current situation beforehand. This applies to the region around the Gaza Strip, Palestinian areas such as Jericho, Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron. Many rental car companies also forbid you to drive into these regions.
This is not because they are hostile to tourists in these areas, but because of the Israeli license plate. The risk of "accidentally" getting caught between the fronts is highest here. Therefore, you should definitely check the current situation in advance. If you are unsure about some areas, it is best to discuss this with the rental company when you pick up the vehicle.
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Incidentally, this also applies to the Temple Mount and Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. There have been disputes here in the past. Is that why you have to forego a visit to the holy city? Just don't! You have to keep in mind that such excesses are not the rule, but the exception.
Should it actually come to that during your visit, inform yourself in the accommodation and in the tourist information which areas you should avoid. In the event of "problems", the emergency services will immediately cordon off large areas so that you cannot accidentally get between the fronts.
Crime in Israel in general
Israel is no more dangerous than other countries when it comes to petty crimes such as pickpocketing. As in Berlin and Barcelona, you should pay particular attention to your bags in tourist places. Valuables always belong in the hotel safe. Even after you have checked out, they should not be left in your suitcase in the luggage storage room.
If you travel around Israel using common sense, nothing should happen to you. Of course, we do not assume any liability, we are only describing our impressions here. Something can happen anywhere in the world.
That's how we felt
We never felt unsafe for a second - on the contrary! We got to know Israel as an extremely hospitable country. The very helpful and happy people have a big part in why we felt so comfortable in this country. You get used to the many safety precautions very quickly, especially when you consider that they also contribute to your own safety.
By the way, during our week in Israel a number of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip in the direction of Israel. Of 24 missiles in 2018 (at this point in time), 18 were fired in this one week. What did we get from it? Nothing. Most of the missiles are intercepted by the army while they are still in the air.
However, a missile alarm can still occur. Then sirens will sound asking you to go to a shelter. But you don't really need to worry here either. Shelters are widespread. Pay attention to where the locals are moving. And again: the people there are always ready to help.
Missile Strike Apps?
In the meantime there are also apps (Apple: Red Alert Israel iPhone / Android: Red Alert Israel PlayStore) that warn of rocket attacks and are supposed to guarantee security in Israel. You will receive a message directly on your smartphone (with an active internet connection). But the app is not a must, the authorities also send warning SMS directly to people in the endangered areas. This also works without an Internet connection, but flight mode must not be activated.
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Israel may of course not be comparable to Mallorca, but it would be a real shame not to travel to this delightful country. We found Israel to be a very safe country to travel to. The many safety precautions and the willingness of the soldiers may take some getting used to at first glance, but in the second moment it also brings a feeling of security with it.
Who, like in other countries, travels through the country with common sense, we have a great time. We are very, very happy to have started the trip. We have experienced so much and made nice acquaintances. Don't miss out on this great destination, it's worth it!
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