SAFETY AND SECURITY
On January 3, 2020, an Iranian military commander and Iraqi paramilitary leaders were killed in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport. This incident has led to increased tensions in the region.
The security situation could worsen with little warning. There is an increased threat of attacks in general.
Remain extremely cautious if you are in the affected area.
Clashes resulting in casualties have been increasingly taking place in the Gaza Strip. Hostilities between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and terrorist groups, including Hamas, in the Gaza Strip could resume and the security situation could deteriorate with little or no notice.
- Remain aware of your surroundings
- Avoid large gatherings
- Stay informed of the security situation
- Monitor the media for information on ongoing protests
- Follow instructions from the IDF’s Home Front Command
The Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular services to Canadians in the Gaza Strip is limited.
The security situation along the Mediterranean coast of the Gaza Strip remains dangerous. Since May 2010, Israeli security forces have intercepted attempts to breach Israel’s naval blockade. These incidents have resulted in deaths, injuries, arrests and deportations. You are strongly advised against participating in any attempt to break the naval blockade. Canadian officials may not be able to provide you with consular assistance if you choose to do so. Participants may be detained by Israeli officials prior to their deportation. In cases of deportation, local authorities are not obliged to notify the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv nor the Representative Office of Canada in Ramallah.
- Regional safety instructions – Israel’s Home Front Command
- Risk levels
Border areas with Israel are particularly dangerous.
Rocket and mortar launches, gunfire and military activity occur in the areas of Israel surrounding the Gaza Strip with little or no warning. Cities and towns within 40 km of the Gaza Strip, such as Ashdod and Beersheva, are most likely to suffer material damages and casualties.
Border crossings to and from the Gaza Strip are controlled by Israeli and Egyptian authorities. They are subject to unexpected, sometimes long-term closures. You may not be able to exit the Gaza Strip even if you are in possession of valid entry and exit permits.
There is a high risk of kidnapping in the Gaza Strip and foreigners may be targeted. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.
BORDER WITH SYRIA
Do not travel east of Highway 98, except to the urban communities of Buq’ata, Mas’ada and Majdal Shams, and do not approach the Israeli barrier in the Golan Heights that borders Syria.
Increased militant activity close to the Israeli barrier in the Golan Heights, including the use of improvised explosive devices, and attempts to penetrate the barrier from the Syrian side, make the area extremely dangerous.
Cross-border gunfire could occur without warning. As well, the IDF conduct military operations in the area.
BORDER BETWEEN ISRAEL AND EGYPT
The security situation could deteriorate rapidly, specifically on Highway 10 between the Sayarim Valley and the Kerem Shalom border crossing, and on Highway 12 between Eilat and the Netafim border crossing.
The highways are subject to closure by Israeli authorities without warning. Attacks occur and the area is dangerous. Some areas are not properly fenced.
Be particularly aware of your surroundings and do not venture close to the border. Monitor local media to determine where military activity is occurring and avoid these areas.
BORDER WITH LEBANON
Israel and Lebanon have not agreed on an international border. The United Nations enforces the “Blue Line,” which separates the two countries but has not been fully demarcated. Areas adjacent to the Blue Line are often heavily mined. The areas of Ghajar, Kfar Shouba Hills and Shebaa Farms are inaccessible and the border with Lebanon is closed.
Protests and demonstrations have become common in East Jerusalem and parts of the Old City, many of which lead to clashes between protestors and local authorities, particularly at the Temple Mount (to Jews) or the Haram al-Sharif (to Muslims) on Fridays. Jerusalem has also seen an increased number of attacks targeting civilians.
There is increased police presence in some areas of Jerusalem, and security forces are on heightened alert. Exercise a high degree of caution at all times. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, as they may turn violent without notice. Monitor news reports and follow the instructions of local authorities.
During periods of imposed movement restrictions and on religious holidays, exacerbated tensions can lead to security incidents.
- Avoid travel to the Old City during periods of exacerbated tensions
- Travel in groups and dress conservatively at all times
Demonstrations can occur in religious neighbourhoods and sometimes result in clashes between residents and the local police. Traffic may also be disrupted.
WEST BANK (EXCLUDING BETHLEHEM, JERICHO AND RAMALLAH)
Several West Bank cities have experienced violent demonstrations and civil unrest, which have led to clashes between Israeli and Palestinian Authority security services. The situation remains unpredictable.
Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness, monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities.
Tensions in some areas of the West Bank are high. Violent clashes, demonstrations and military operations occur. There are periodic Israeli security operations targeting individuals in cities and villages throughout the West Bank, particularly in:
- refugee camps
It is not possible to travel without passing through multiple Israeli military checkpoints, where there may be a greater threat of violent confrontations. Areas in the vicinity of the barrier separating Israel and the West Bank are particularly high-risk. Travel only during the daytime and do not stay in the West Bank overnight.
Clashes may occur between Israeli settlers and Palestinians.
If you are travelling to the West Bank despite this advice, ensure that you have appropriate security measures in place to protect yourself. You should also have alternate travel arrangements in case of a rapid deterioration in the security situation.
- Carry your passport at all times
- Register and maintain contact with the Representative Office of Canada in Ramallah
- Keep a low profile
- Monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities
BETHLEHEM, JERICHO AND RAMALLAH (WEST BANK)
Although violence is not as common in Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah, there have been violent incidents, including clashes involving Palestinians, the IDF and Palestinian Authority security forces.
The potential for political demonstrations and military incursions is high, and heightened security measures have been put in place.
- Exercise a high degree of caution
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media
While hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah forces were suspended following the 2006 conflict, stability in the northern region of Israel could deteriorate rapidly and without notice.
Rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel have reached Hadera, Haifa, Kiryat Shmona, Nazareth, Shlomi and other northern cities. There is strong potential for future incidents.
Terrorist incidents causing numerous deaths and injuries have occurred in a variety of locations in:
- Tel Aviv
- other major populated centres, including at tourist sites, on public transportation and in other public areas
Foreigners have been affected but have never been directly targeted. There is potential for further violence. Incidents are unpredictable and there is a strong risk that you could find yourself in the middle of a dangerous situation.
POLITICALLY MOTIVATED VIOLENCE
Politically motivated violence has occurred throughout Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Previous incidents resulting in injury and death include:
- random stabbings
- vehicle ramming
- stone throwing at vehicles
Expect tighter security measures and an increased security presence in Jerusalem’s Old City, in East Jerusalem and throughout Israel.
Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times.
Police and security forces are on heightened alert.
Exercise a high degree of caution when using public transportation and after incidents of violence, at public funerals and during religious holidays.
Following incidents of politically motivated violence, the Government of Israel may establish checkpoints without warning. Avoid crossing checkpoints on foot, or in a Palestinian public bus.
Exercise caution in public places, such as open markets and bus stations, stay informed of the security situation, monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
Cities across Israel may be targeted by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have reached Hadera, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and have also struck close to Haifa, located approximately 150 km north of the Gaza Strip border.
Rocket fire from Egypt, Lebanon and Syria has targeted, respectively, Eilat, northern Israel and the Golan Heights. Follow safety advice and instructions from the IDF’s Home Front Command.
Regional safety instructions – Israel’s Home Front Command
The crime rate is moderate in Israel but low in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Vehicle theft is a serious problem. Always lock car doors and keep windows closed.
Thefts occur on public beaches.
Ensure that your wallet, money and valuables are out of sight, particularly in large crowds and public markets.
Violent crime is rare.
Planned and unplanned demonstrations regularly occur in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Exercise particular caution if demonstrations take place around areas such as settlements, checkpoints or military zones.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Live landmines are present in certain areas, including parts of the West Bank and along Israel’s borders. Some minefields have not been clearly marked or fenced.
Walk only on established roads or trails.
Exercise a high degree of caution when using public transportation, as terrorist and politically motivated violence has occurred (see Terrorism above). There is a risk of traffic fatalities due to erratic driving habits and frequent accidents.
WEST BANK AND GAZA STRIP
The use of Israeli public buses in the West Bank (also known as “settlement buses”) and in Israel, other than the East Jerusalem Palestinian bus system and the Jerusalem Light Rail Train isn’t recommended.
Many of the roads in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are of poor quality. During the winter months, precipitation can cause driving conditions to deteriorate and may result in road closures
Access to the West Bank is controlled by the IDF through a series of military checkpoints. Even if you have a valid visa and authorization to enter the West Bank, there is no guarantee that the vehicle will be allowed to pass through security checkpoints. You may also be stopped for security checks by Palestinian Authority police within their jurisdiction. If you are planning to enter the West Bank with a rented vehicle, verify your insurance coverage and permissions with your car rental agency.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
Travellers using Israeli airlines should expect enhanced security screening procedures, which may result in delays.
GENERAL SAFETY INFORMATION
Carry your passport at all times and register with the Embassy of Canada to Israel in Tel Aviv.
There are frequent disruptions in telephone, power and water services in the Gaza Strip.