Traveling to the West Bank in Israel: How to Stay Safe

Travel in and out of the West Bank means Israeli military checkpoints. Find out which parts are safest to visit.

Small West Bank communities in the Judean desert Photo © Getty Images/Richard Fairless

Warning: this destination has been classified as "reconsider your travel" and many governments advise their citizens to reconsider all non-urgent travel to the West Bank. Check your government's advice for travel to the West Bank. 

Travel to this destination against government advice has implications for your travel insurance and you should read and understand your policy documents thoroughly if you are considering travel to this destination. If you are a World Nomads policy holder and unsure as to how it will affect you, please contact our 24/7 Worldwide Emergency Assistance. as for some travelers, even the warning of "reconsider your need to travel" is enough for it to impact your travel insurance.

If you go anyway and get into trouble, it may be impossible for your insurer to provide emergency assistance, and consular officials from your own country may be severely limited in the assistance they can give. We care about your personal safety and wellbeing, please heed all government issued travel warnings.

For more than 60 years, Israel has been one of the world's political hot spots. The West Bank is still experiencing tension between Israeli and Palestinian locals and forces.

Large numbers of Jewish people, many fleeing persecution in Europe, arrived in the area in the early 20th century. In 1947 the United Nations attempted to split the territory into two states - one Jewish and one Palestinian. This led to a succession of wars and uneasy peaces as Palestinians, Israelis and surrounding countries battled over the territory. This political impasse continues today. To add to the tension, Israel has many religious sites important to Jewish, Christian and Muslim people.

The West Bank is known as an "Occupied Territory" and various parts of it are controlled and/or administered by Israeli and Palestinian groups.

Given the level of tension in the area, travelers are often advised not to visit the West Bank with the exception of East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah and Route Nos. 1, 90 and 443.

The cities of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho see large numbers of tourists including on organised tours and there have been no recent reports of any serious incidents involving foreigners.

It is advised you exercise a high degree of caution in East Jerusalem and on the following routes in the West Bank: Route No. 1 (between Jerusalem and the Jordan valley), Route No. 90 (in the Jordan valley), and Route No. 443 (between Modiin and Jerusalem).

The security situation in Nablus has improved and it is now easier to visit, but tourists are still relatively rare and it is advisable to visit the area with someone who knows the city.

The Palestinian areas of Hebron are also relatively safe. However, in the closed military zone in the H2 area of Hebron (around Ash-Shuhada Street and the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs), there is a risk of a hostile reaction from members of extremist settler groups.

In all West Bank cities particular care is needed in and around the refugee camps, which are often poorer and more deprived than other areas.

Israelis living in the illegal settlements in the West Bank occasionally organise demonstrations on West Bank roads. These can turn violent.

Take particular care if hiking near any of these settlements, including those in the hills around Nablus and in the South Hebron hills.

There are regular demonstrations against the route of the separation barrier in various locations including the villages of Bil'in, Ni'lin, Jayyous, and Al Mas'ara. These frequently turn violent and have resulted in two deaths in 2011 and numerous injuries, including a severe head injury to a foreign national. It is extremely dangerous to attend these demonstrations.

The Israeli authorities periodically impose a total restriction on movement in and out of the West Bank, either on Jewish High Holidays or as a result of a security incident. This does not normally affect foreign nationals but would affect dual Palestinian nationals.

Travel in and out of the West Bank is not possible without passing through at least one Israeli military checkpoint. You will need a passport to go through these checkpoints. If you are intending to drive in the West Bank, check that you are insured to do so before setting out. It may be easier to arrange West Bank insurance at a hire company in East Jerusalem than from the major hire car companies in Israel.

Be aware there are live minefields in the Israeli border areas with Lebanon and Syria and in the West Bank. Some may not be clearly marked.

Checkpoints may be set up or closed at any time, often without warning, throughout Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Travelers may encounter delays or difficulties passing through checkpoints.

As well as being sensitive to security concerns, be sure to respect local customs.

Unmarried couples are not permitted to live together or share hotel accommodation in the West Bank. Public displays of affection may also cause offence.

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5 Comments

  • Christine Blankenship said

    Jerusalem Israel Jordan etc..
    August 27,2016 Ahead

  • John Cohen said

    The following excerpt is highly misleading:

    "Israelis living in the illegal settlements in the West Bank occasionally organise demonstrations on West Bank roads.These sometimes turn violent, with the settlers throwing stones at passing Palestinian and international vehicles."

    In fact, residents of villages in Judea and Samaria (what the author has referred to as the West bank illegal settlements) frequently fall victim to ambushes by the local Arab population. Arab youths will ignite car tires and create roadblocks then mobs will try to lynch the Jewish residents passing through.

    For more information backed by actual facts, please refer to this resource:

    http://www.standwithus.com/online_booklets/Settlements/Settlements.pdf

  • ja said

    " with the settlers throwing stones at passing Palestinian and international vehicles."

    A straight-up lie -- and your picture shows Palestinians fire-bombing passers-by duhhhh

  • Ga said

    What isn’t at odds here is the fact that Israel is occupying foreign land and it’s citizens and the IDF are committing daily atrocities on the Palestinian people...

  • Nemo said

    May יי make good on the motto of the terrorist state of Palestine and sweep each and every one of these swine from the river and into the sea

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