We constantly hear updates in the news about the political situation and the complicated relationship between Israel and Palestine. This area is visited every year by millions of tourists attracted by the beauty of the destinations and their cultural and religious importance. Some people get nervous or afraid that something bad can happen while they are visiting the Holy Land. It is important to note that in general Israel is a very safe country, even safer than other places around the world. We do not hear about tourists being attacked or being caught in the midst of political problems, like any other place there are just some considerations to keep in mind.
The main point of entry for visitors to Israel is Ben Gurion International airport in Tel Aviv, security there is very tight for those arriving or leaving the country. Before immigration it is possible to see some agents interrogating people, but it does not go beyond that, it is good to arrive to the airport at least three hours before the flight because the check in process can be longer. Once inside the country everything is very normal, Tel Aviv is a very cosmopolitan city with vivid nightlife. Jerusalem is a fascinating city with an impressive heritage, people are very friendly and hospitable and like in any other place on earth the best thing is to avoid political topics. Dangers are no different than in any other destination. It may be wise to avoid big crowds specially during religious holidays, we prefer to visit Israel during low season, we feel we can enjoy the place better and there are not big conglomerations of people. Some visitors prefer to avoid public transportation since it has been targeted in the past, but it is not as frequent as media try to present it.
Something somehow different happen with Palestine. Bethlehem and Jericho are located in Palestinian areas. One immediately notices that to enter to Palestinian areas one has to cross through check points, most of the time the formality itself is quite easy, Israeli soldiers may ask to check passports, but there is nothing complicated besides the fact of being surprised by the huge wall. Betlehem is a beautiful town, and it is normally safe. Security standards may be little bit lower than in Israel, but as long one is mindful like in any other place nothing bad should happen. Most car rental companies do not offer insurance for cars crossing to Palestinian areas, so many visitors arrive to Bethlehem and park their car in a safe place and just walk around. Jericho is another attractive destination on the Palestinian side, even when we have not experienced anything bad we have heard about bigger security concerns but mostly related with minor robberies to personal property or car rentals.
We consider Israel and the main Palestinian areas to be safe places to visit, it is just important to be informed, because sometimes the political situation can be in flux, once in Israel prudence and respect is the best ally to enjoy a great trip.