Area : 21121.0 km2
Population : 6200000 inhabitants
To reach Tel-Aviv from the Ben Gurion Airport, take bus No. 475 (just over £2), which goes around to the different hotels. A train line linking Ben Gourion Airport to the centre of Tel-Aviv has recently been opened. For a few shekels, the currency here, you can also take a shared taxi (called sherouts). In Tel-Aviv, you will find buses and shared taxis going to Jerusalem and all over the country (Haïfa, Tiberias, Beersheba, Eilat, etc.). There is also a train that mainly services Jerusalem, Haïfa and Akko (Saint John of Acre).
Today, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are part of the Palestinian Territories. Since the Oslo Agreements (1993), most of the Gaza Strip, Jericho and the main cities of the West Bank have become somewhat autonomous and can thus be visited.
In the major cities, and especially in Jerusalem, threats of attack should serve as a warning to every visitor to avoid crowds and public transport. Also, keep informed of all safety measures given for the area.
FCO UPDATE:The FCO advises against all travel to the Sheba'a Farms and Ghajjar along the border with Lebanon (the 'Blue Line'). It advises against all travel to Gaza. There remains a risk of rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and Israeli air strikes on Gaza. Take extra care in areas of Israel close to the border with Gaza.
For the latest developments, see the FCO Travel Advice section for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The official languages are modern Hebrew and Arabic. English is also widely spoken, as well as French and Russian.
Passport valid for 6 months after the return date. If you are planning on visiting another Arab country (other than Egypt and Jordan), you have to ask at customs to have the Israeli stamp put on your entry authorisation and not on your passport. This is done during the customs check, upon arrival in the territory.
The Jewish population is equitably represented by the Ashkenazi from Europe and the Sephardi from the Mediterranean Basin. The Jews from former USSR represent 10% of the Israeli population. The Jewish State also has close to one million Arab citizens (including 80,000 Druze) and Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank number about two and a half million. Israeli Arabs and Palestinians are 95% Muslim (sunnites) and 5% Christian.
The Israeli currency is the Shekel (ILS). International credit cards (Visa, American Express, Eurocard, etc.) are widely used and there are many ATM machines in the main towns and at the airports. Travellers cheques (in Pounds or Dollars) can be exchanged in all banks, though many shops will also accept foreign currencies (Dollars and Pounds). Banks are open from Sunday to Thursday from 8:30am to 12:30pm and from 4:00pm to 5:30pm and are closed on Wednesdays, Friday afternoons and Saturdays.
A rented car is the best means of visiting Israel, given the country's small surface area and excellent road network. However, there is a slight drawback: road accidents are frequent and Israelis drive with a lot of stress, especially in the cities. There are several car rentals at Ben Gourion airport itself and generally you just need to be above 21 years of age and have had a driving license for at least a year. By renting a car from the UK, the prices are more interesting and if you intend to visit the Occupied Territories, you are advised to rent a car with a blue number plate, as yellow number plates (Israeli) are not always welcome. The bus is an ideal low cost means of transport (if you have a student identity card, you get a 10% discount). Interurban lines serve the whole country, though some tourist sites are still poorly served.The Israbus pass, valid for one to four weeks, seems more profitable if you have several stopovers, but if you're seeking something more comfortable and for virtually the same cost, shared taxis (sherouts) take you to the main cities. They can take up to seven passengers and they follow a set route; if you're inside Jerusalem, go for the sherout rather than the bus.
No particular vaccine is required, but be sure to be up to date with your vaccination shots against hepatitises A and B. If you are going to the Negev Desert or the Dead Sea, take all the necessary precautions to avoid the risk of dehydration, sunstroke and sunburn. The tap water is clean and completely safe to drink.
Voltage is 220 V. An adapter is unnecessary.
The country receives 2 million tourists a year.
Service is not included in restaurants, you should leave a tip that is equivalent to 10 % of the bill. It is not custom to leave a tip for taxi drivers.
To call Israel from the UK: dial 00 972 + the 1-digit area code without the initial 0 (Jerusalem and Bethlehem: 02; Eilat: 07; Haifa :04; Tel-Aviv: 03; Tiberias and Nazareth: 06) + the number you are trying to reach (6 or 7 digits).
To call the UK from Israel: dial 00 + 44 + the number you are trying to reach.
2 Palace Green, London W8 4QB.
Telephone: (020) 7957 9500 (Embassy).
Israel Government Tourist Office:
UK House, 180 Oxford Street, London W1N OEL.
Telephone: (020) 7299 1111.
British General Consulate of UK:
19 Nashashibi Street Jarrah Quarter, PO Box 19690, East Jerusalem 97200.
Telephone: 972 (02) 541 5100.
Israeli Tourism Authority:
17, Jaffa Road, Jerusalem.
Telephone: (02) 625 88 44.
Open Sunday to Thursday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Friday, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm offering guided tours of Jerusalem.