Israel travel advice 2021: Foreign Office guidance on holidays as Gaza violence mounts in green list country
Rockets have been fired over Tel Aviv - normally a popular holiday destination for UK travellers
Travel to ‘green list’ destinations will be permitted for people living in England and Scotland from 17 May, when international travel will cautiously resume.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the countries that will be placed on the ‘green’ travel list in a Downing Street update last week, meaning holidaymakers will not have to quarantine on their return - although testing is still required.
England and Scotland’s list of 12 countries includes Portugal, Australia, Gibraltar and Israel although the latter has erupted in violence over recent weeks, after tensions have spilled over between Israelis and Palestinians.
Here’s what you need to know about the ongoing conflict in Israel, and if it is safe to travel.
Why is there conflict in Israel?
The current violence began a month ago in Israel’s capital, where heavy-handed Israeli police tactics during Ramadan, and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers, ignited protests and clashes with police.
Violence erupted after days of mounting tensions between Palestinians and Israeli authorities in the Old City of Jerusalem, the emotional ground zero of the conflict.
Hundreds of Palestinians and around two dozen police officers have been hurt over the past few days amid the worst religious unrest in years.
Palestinian militants fired 130 missiles at the Israeli city of Tel Aviv after an Israeli air strike felled a tower block in the Gaza Strip, forcing residents and locals to evacuate.
Israel's military says it is targeting militants in Gaza in response to earlier rocket attacks, after militants had already fired hundreds of rockets towards Jerusalem and other areas.
The fighting is the result of an unresolved conflict that has been simmering between Israel and Palestine for decades.
The holy site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is considered the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. The compound is the epicentre of the conflict and has been the trigger for rounds of Israel-Palestinian violence in the past.
The roots of the conflict go back 100 years, when Britain took control of the area known as Palestine after the ruler of the area was defeated in World War One.
At the time, the land was inhabited mostly by Arabs, with a Jewish minority population.
Tensions between these communities began to rise when Britain was implored by the international community to create a homeland in Palestine for Jewish people.
Jewish people considered the area their ancestral home, laying historical claim to the land, but Palestinian Arabs opposed the move, saying they had a claim to the land.
Is it safe to travel to Israel?
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is currently advising against all travel to:
- 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 east of Route 98 along the Syrian border
The FCDO is also advising against all but essential travel to the remainder of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (beyond East Jerusalem) based on the current assessment of Covid risks.
As of 17 May, international travel will reopen in England and Scotland, allowing people to visit green list countries, including Israel and Jerusalem.
From this date, it will no longer be illegal to visit the country for a foreign holiday and travellers will not need to quarantine on return to England, although a pre-departure Covid test will be required up to 72 hours before returning, and a single PCR test on or before day two of arrival into England.
Travellers are warned that the security situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories can be “fast moving, tense and unpredictable.”
Guidance states that visitors should be vigilant at all times, avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, and follow advice from local authorities.
Travellers can keep informed of the security situation through the media and the latest government travel advice.
If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
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