This security report has been compiled by RED HAWK GROUP based on the analysis of publicly available information about the relevant country. Its purpose is to provide our clients and other readers with useful information to enhance their safety while traveling. This report is not intended to accuse or evaluate political or international decisions. RED HAWK GROUP disclaims any legal consequences that may result from following the recommendations contained in this report. Readers are encouraged to use their own judgment and decide whether to act on the recommendations provided in this report.
History and Politics
Since the Second World War and the creation of the State of Israel, a number of countries (i.e. Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia) have been in political and/or military conflict with Israel. Peace treaties have been signed with Jordan and Egypt and full diplomatic relations commenced. Israel retains authority over the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan heights. Hezbollah (based in Lebanon) and Hamas (based in the Gaza Strip) have been designated terrorist organizations and are in a state of armed conflict with Israel.
Israel’s capital is Jerusalem, though several countries don’t recognize it as such. Most embassies are located in Tel Aviv. Israel has bilateral ties with Russia and Czech Republic.
Conflict between Jews and Arabs has aggravated the contested political situation in the occupied territories (Gaza Strip, West Bank, Golan heights), much of which Arabs claim as a state of Palestine. Over several decades, numerous attempts at peace talks have been brokered by various parties, though results remain inconclusive.
Sectarian violence has often been exercised between population groups within Israel. Tensions between Jews and Arabs have always been high and have spilled into (sometimes widespread) physical violence. The historical situation is aggravated by the composition of the current government (far right; ultra-orthodox). The political and sectarian situation remains extremely murky. The current government is committed to full assimilation and settlement of the occupied areas by Israelis.
- Do not discuss the political or societal situation or give your opinion!
Ukrainian crisis and relation with Russia
Wladimir Putin stated ‘friendly and improving relations’ with Israel, particularly since Benjamin Netanyahu came to power. Netanyahu has on numerous occasions stated support for Putin’s war with Ukraine. Israel did not join sanctions against Russia.
- It is likely that diplomatic relations between Russia and Israel will further improve due to Israel’s current coalition government under Netanyahu.
- Vocal support for Ukraine while in Israel will likely constitute a security risk.
The security situation in Israel can change from day to day.
- It is highly recommended to daily inform yourself about the current political and sectarian situation by reading newspapers or asking hotel staff.
Areas of specific concern
Palestine: It is an area composed of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip as well as East Jerusalem (all of them under Israeli control).
Gaza Strip: Location of the military group Hamas (ruled a terrorist organization by the UN), and under blockade by Israel and Egypt.
West Bank: Israeli occupation is uneasy, as the subsequent and current government are committed to settlement by Israelis and full incorporation of the area into the State of Israel.
Jerusalem is situated in an Israeli inlet into the occupied West Bank area. Both Israel and Palestine claim it as a capital or government center, respectively, though not all countries or international governing bodies recognize its status. It is a holy site for three religions (Jewish, Christians, Muslims).
In particular, be especially vigilant at Jerusalem’s holy sites:
- Act unprepossessing and humble, cover yourself modestly (even if not specifically asked, i.e. long sleeved shirt and scarf).
- Be aware of your surroundings and unusual activity.
- Avoid going near unattended packages and alert security forces.
Conflict between Palestinians/Arabs and Israelis, or between members of Hamas and the state of Israel is not restricted to military targets. On numerous occasions civilian suicide bombers have detonated vests or IEDs at civilian locations or tourist sites (latest: 23 Nov 2022 at a bus stop at the outskirts of Jerusalem).
Sensitive sightseeing spots
Especially in Jerusalem, it is highly recommended to extend special caution when visiting one of the major religious sites listed below. Threats may come from sectarian (maximum casualties), political, or religious attacks.
- Western Wall
- Temple Mount: Al Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock
- Via Dolorosa Street
- Mount of Olives
- Mount Zion
- Eglise du Saint-Sepulchre
- Hebron: Cave of Patriarchs
Hamas intermittently fires short-range missiles and shells from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The Iron Dome is reported to intercept up to 90 percent of missiles.
- Immediately after changing location to a new city or hotel, inform yourself with the hotel staff on the nearest shelter and emergency protocols.
- In the event of a missile strike, a siren will sound. From the siren until the strike, you will only have between 15 seconds and 3 minutes grace time to get into shelter.
Large earthquakes are rare in Israel, but many smaller ones occur every year.
- Get out into open space if possible
- If in a building, go to the strongest parts of the building
- Stop the car
- Avoid bridges (under or on top), intersections, electrical wires
- Watch out for falling objects (glass, furniture)
Traffic and Prohibited Areas
The public road net in Israel is well-maintained, especially around the population centers. However, on some roads adjacent rivers may overflow (e.g. after heavy rainfall). If planning an extended overland trip, rent a car that is able to ford through.
Some highways have toll stations. Inform yourself before your trip how to pay the toll (electronic payment is an option).
Police and military are often present at shopping centers and places where a large number of people gather. Army service is mandatory for all genders and a source of pride for Israelis.
Aggressive driving is commonplace. Many drivers fail to maintain safe following distances or signals before changing lanes or making turns. Overtaking on high-speed on undivided two-lane roads is common. Drivers are also prone to stop suddenly on roads without warning, especially in the right lane.
Local drivers may also display rage at the slightest provocation, though most will not physically assault their adversary.
- Drive according to local custom – which means assertively, but consistent with safety.
- Keep a cool head and be prepared for road rage.
- Keep watch for other vehicles ignoring traffic laws and be prepared for emergency evasions.
Especially outside the city centers, army vehicles will likely be driven on any given road.
- Do not photograph military vehicles or bases, or show undue interest.
- When encountering checkpoints or roadblocks, stay calm and patient.
- Inform yourself about military bases along your route and avoid them.
- Inform yourself about prohibited areas and closed military zones along your route.
Israel has white number plates. If visiting the West Bank (not recommended), rent a car at the entrance with yellow plates, specifically to avoid trouble with false assumption – Israelis are not allowed to visit West Bank.