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Israel is a without doubt a destination worth putting on your bucket list. However with the instabilities in the Middle East region and headlines that make the news on a regular basis, it is no wonder that travelers are very uncertain whether it is safe to travel to Israel.
Israel has always fascinated me and I wanted to travel there and see it myself. However I was afraid that it might not be a safe place to go and that held me back for a long time. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out Israels geographic location which could leave you a bit worried.
Furthermore I think media has a big impact on how we see the world. If I think about the headlines that made it in the news about Israel, I remember words like ‚shooting, stabbing, bombing‘. Those events are all tragic and I don’t want to play them down, but they don’t happen on a regular or daily basis. However Israel is a small state, so often only those news are ‚important‘ enough to make it in the world news and influence our views.
What were your first thoughts when you try to picture Israel? I am almost certain it wasn’t ancient Roman towns or beautiful waterfalls.
So back to the original question: Is Israel safe for tourists?
To be up front about it, my answer to this question is YES.
In this post I want to talk about my personal experience coming to Israel as a tourist.
Prior to my trip I did a lot of research about Israel and the more I read about it, the more I wanted to go. I was keen on spending some time in bustling Tel Aviv and experiencing the infamous nightlife myself. I wanted to float in the Dead Sea, explore historic sites and discover the many wonders that Jerusalem holds.
But the entire time I was still worried. Is it safe to take buses or even drive through the country myself with a car? What if something happens?
My curiosity and excitement overweighted my doubts and we booked the flight tickets to Tel Aviv.
Two weeks before the trip Israel was in the news again. There was an article about ‚the deadliest roundabout in Jerusalem‘ and another one about an explosion in a bus in Jerusalem.
Reading this I almost backed out and was already starting to look for alternatives. A beach holiday in Spain maybe?
But then I thought about it again. Nowadays something can happen anywhere. Events like in Istanbul, Brussels and Paris are just examples. Terrorism has become a real threat and we need to be cautious, however it shouldn’t stop us from traveling or living our life how we want.
On that note we sticked to our original plan to travel to Israel.
First of all what you notice when traveling to Israel by air is that the security measures taken are way higher than usual. Plan to be at the airport at least two hours prior to departure, pack your hand luggages according to the requirements (fe. liquids packed in a zip lock bag etc.) and wear an easy and comfortable travel outfit (you will have to remove shoe, jewelry, belts etc.).
I just made it in time for my flight because I didn’t consider those points. Flying to Israel is like flying to the States but even stricter. You will be asked questions and until I reached my departure gate I had to go through two security controls. Also immigration once landed took quite long and I once again was asked a few question before I was finally able to go and explore Israel.
You will also experience an airport-like security control when taking public transport, before entering bus or train stations, shopping malls or major sights.
Did it make me feel unsafe? No! In fact I felt safer since precautions were taken.
What was a strange sight at first and took me some time to get used to was the constant presence of police and soldiers carrying their weapons openly.
In general we never had a problem traveling around Israel or walking around big cities like Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, felt threatened or unsafe.
I would suggest to use the same common-sense techniques that apply anywhere else, inform yourself prior to the trip and you will be fine.
And now go and enjoy the many wonders of Israel