With the latest developments in Israel, things are prone to sudden changes in the blink of an eye. Is it safe to travel to Israel is now one of the number 1 questions travellers wonder regarding this Middle Eastern country.
Learn how this fluid situation affects travel on a global scale. And the current advice from the U.S. and U.K. travel advisories. Plus, we also compile a list of airlines that are either still flying or have ceased operations in Israel.
Disclaimer: We are not an agency that can provide you with instructions on what to do in these situations. We hope to bring you the latest news and information on the matter. And, if possible, connect everyone to a resource or someone who can help them.
Israel Travel Restrictions Today
- The Foreign Office has strengthened its warning, advising against all but essential travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).
- The U.S. Department of State has issued a "Level 4: Do Not Travel" advisory for Gaza. A “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” for Israel and the West Bank.
- Major U.S. carriers, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, have suspended operations to/from Tel Aviv.
- Other international airlines, such as Air France, Lufthansa, and Virgin Atlantic, have also suspended their services.
- Ben Gurion International Airport is still in operation.
- And so is Israel’s national carrier, EL AL, which is maintaining its schedule.
Resources To Check For The Latest Developments
Please be sure to keep up to date through truthful sources, especially if you plan to travel to or have already been in Israel:
Official Travel Advisories
- U.K. Foreign Travel Advice for Israel
- US State Department's Travel Advisory for Israel
- Official Ben Gurion Airport Website (Only available in Israel).
Local News Sources
U.K. Embassy Information
- +972 (0)3 725 1222
- +972 (2) 5414100
- +44 20 7008 5000 (for those who are in the U.K.)
- Address: 192 Hayarkon Street, 6340502, Tel Aviv, Israel
U.S. Embassy Information
- + (972) (2) 630-4000
- + (972) (3) 519-7551 (Emergency)
- Email: JerusalemACS@state.gov
- Website: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
U.S. citizens can check the availability of flight departures from Ben Gurion International Airport here: https://www.iaa.gov.il/en/airports/ben-gurion/flight-board/?flightType=departures
Israel Ministry of Tourism’s Hotline
- Email: email@example.com
- WhatsApp: +972-55-972-693
- Phone: 104
Home Front Command
- WhatsApp/SMS: +972 (0) 52-9104104
Is It Safe To Travel In Israel Right Now?
As of Oct 2023, most, if not all, travel advisors are against “all but essential travel” to every region in Israel. The reason is the latest escalation by Hamas, the Palestinian militant group holding control over the Gaza stripes.
There have been several rockets launched into the city, and there have been casualties. Fighting continues within Israel, and the prime minister has threatened significant retaliation against Gaza.
Due to the large-scale conflict, various government bodies have started issuing warnings and advice against travelling to the country and bordering regions.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Rafah crossing into Egypt is no exception. Thus, you shouldn’t consider travelling to the following locations:
- the Sheba’a Farms and Ghajjar
- Within 500m of the border with Lebanon (the ‘Blue Line’) east of Metula, including the northern edge of the town and within 500m of the border with Syria (the ‘Alpha Line’)”.
Anywhere near the border with Gaza should be noted:
- “Southwest of Ashkelon
- South of Route 35 and west of Route 40 as far as Tlalim, not including Be’er Sheva
- West of Be’er Sheva
- North of route 211”.
At the moment, bordering countries such as Egypt can potentially be affected by the conflict. The FCDO “advises against all travel to within 20km of the Egypt-Libya border”, the Governorate of North Sinai, and more.
As of now, there are no travel advisories in place for Cyprus. But you should always follow the news and official government resources to stay informed. Holidaymakers can read more about these destinations covered by the telegraph here.
The Front Office strongly encourages everybody to register their presence. You only need an email address and a U.K. passport to do so. Once registered, you will automatically receive important updates.
The U.S. State Department has raised its travel advisory for Israel and the West Bank to level 3, advising Americans to reconsider travel due to ongoing terrorist threats. The advisory for Gaza remains at level 4 - Do Not Travel.
U.S. Embassy personnel are required to observe a curfew between 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM. And it's strongly recommended that they remain near their home during the hours outside of this curfew.
In a Twitter/X post, the State Department announced that “commercial flights are available even if they are not direct to the U.S.” Furthermore, it is “exploring contract options to facilitate U.S. citizen travel to nearby countries, and will provide updates to U.S. citizens who have registered via our online form”.
Similarly, the Canadian government states you should avoid all travel to:
- The Gaza Strip
- Parts of the Golan Heights that border Syria, east of Highway 98
- Within 5 km of the border with Egypt
- Within 500 metres of the border with Lebanon
- The West Bank
- Border with Gaza Strip.
The government is looking into airlifting Canadians out of Israel, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said. She encourages registering with Global Affairs Canada at (+1) 613-996-8885 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What The Israeli Authorities Say
The Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT) has expressed shock and sadness over the recent events. They are committed to ensuring the safety and information of all tourists visiting Israel. They have issued a note stating that tours to the country should be avoided.
IMOT have also set up a hotline via WhatsApp (+972 55 972 6931) for tourists to stay informed about the evolving situation. Other ways to contact include an email (email@example.com) and dial 104 to reach the Home Front Command or for more information.
Impact on Aviation
On October 7, 2023, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) advising pilots and airlines to exercise "extreme caution" when flying over Israel. Israel's government issued a similar warning.
Many flights have been cancelled or diverted. For instance, a United Airlines flight from San Francisco had to return to its departure airport midway into its 13-hour journey due to the situation.
Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport remains open and operational. However, various airlines have adjusted their schedules or policies in response. This is understandable, as there are the risks of missiles and many more flying through the air space.
Few Carriers Still In Operation
In the midst of flights getting cancelled left and right, Israeli airlines are your best bet if you want to book a trip out of the country. There are also some international ones in operation, but they mostly scale back their flights.
El AL still operates from Ben Gurion's Terminal 3, according to their statement on 11 Oct. 2023. Israel's national airline even plans to add more flights.
Emirates reduced operations to/from the nation from three a day to just one daily. The UAE carrier’s schedule will be that way between 13 Oct. 2023 and 31 Oct. 2023.
Cancellations Pile Up
Most carriers have cancelled their flights to/from Israel. According to flightradar24.com, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport’s arrival and departure delay indexes are above 4.
This means there are major problems with several delayed flights. As of 12 Oct. 2023, about 11% and 35% of flights are delayed and cancelled, respectively.
Air Canada’s update stated that all air travel to Tel Aviv is temporarily suspended.
British Airways has just suspended its air travel to the nation after turning back one of its planes due to air raid sirens while approaching Tel Aviv. They plan to offer a full refund and assist in rebooking.
Delta stated that "... we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Tel Aviv flights through 31 Oct. 2023". Like many U.S. airlines, the company plans to work with the government to bring Americans home. Follow their travel advisory for more information.
Finnair has just extended Israel air travel cancellations until March 2024. They are “unable to reroute customers currently in Israel” and advise Finns to contact the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ryanair cancelled flights to/from Tel Aviv Airport until 15 Oct. 2023 due to “operational restrictions beyond Ryanair’s control”.
Virgin Atlantic is another name among the list of airlines that stop operations in Israel. The suspensions take place up until 28 Oct. 2023.
EasyJet announced pausing the Tel Aviv flight route until the 13th of October. Everyone’s favourite affordable airline also tells anyone due to travel to Tel Aviv up to the 21st of October to check for real-time information. Follow their latest news here.
United is no exception. They have indefinitely discontinued their Israel routes. You can read about United’s travel alerts and how you can waive change fees here.
Wizz Air is like everyone else, putting the passengers and crew’s safety as their number one priority. The Hungary carriers halt operations up until 13 Oct 2023.
Some Offers Return Flights For Their Citizens
These airlines suspend operations in the Middle East country. However, they are making an effort to make sure their people can get somewhere safe.
Many countries are doing the same. Some, such as Poland, send military planes to evacuate their citizens. Here is the list of commercial airlines that offer special flights for their citizens:
Air France has discontinued services “until further notice”. Per their website, they are organising a special flight on 12 Oct. 2023 with the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.
Korean Air cancelled its Incheon-Tel Aviv plane rides. Instead, the only carrier with a direct route to Israel in Korea operated a flight to return Koreans to their home on 11 Oct. 2023.
Lufthansa has already cut commercial air routes to/from Tel Aviv. The German airline is currently organising humanitarian rescue flights.
Norwegian Air announced they are scheduling an additional flight from Tel Aviv to Oslo to accommodate Norwegians and other Nordic nationals in Israel.
Swiss Airlines works with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) to organise special flights to ensure the safety of the citizens aboard.
Are Tours To Israel Cancelled?
Various tour operators have already pulled back their planned Israel departures. Collette, a U.S. tour company, has called off all trips to Israel for the remainder of 2023. They've also mentioned that choices regarding 2024 tours will be determined a minimum of 60 days before the travel date.
Several airlines have suspended flights to and from Israel. If you've booked a flight, check with the airline regarding their cancellation or rescheduling policies. Some airlines are offering fee waivers for changes or cancellations. Check your SMS, airline app, or “Manage My Booking” section on their site for the latest information.
The cruising industry is no exception. Various cruise lines have cancelled calls at the Israeli ports. Among them, Celestyal Cruises plans to cancel calls through November. Others have notified guests of itinerary changes. For instance, Celebrity Cruises routes Israel and Egypt visits to Greek and Turkish ports.
Is Israel Safe For Female Travellers?
Israel was a safe place for solo female travellers. Though that’s no longer the case due to the ongoing conflict, it’s still a great choice once things are stable. For now, everyone, regardless of their gender or preferred travel styles, should reconsider travelling to the nation. Instead, you may want to consider alternative travel plans or destinations that are currently deemed safe for travel.
Is It Safe To Travel To Jerusalem
Given the current situation as a whole, it’s the same everywhere else in the country. According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, demonstrations and terrorist acts occur in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. Therefore, it’s wise to avoid Jerusalem at the moment.
Is It Safe to Travel to Israel Right Now: The Current Situation
You finally got the answer to the “Is it safe to travel to Israel” question. The decision is yours to make. However, we strongly advise you to suspend travelling to Israel and Gaza for now, as the regions are now high on the list of the most dangerous places to visit out there.