Yes, It's Safe to Travel to Israel!
November 20, 2017
Is it safe to travel to Israel? There are currently 3,500,000 tourists a year to this small country of 8.3 million inhabitants that seem to think so! This is one of the most common questions Cheryl and I are asked when talking to people about a trip to Israel. Yes, it is safe to travel to Israel, but don’t just take our word for it, please read on…
How safe do you feel traveling in the USA? Did you know that statistically, it is safer to travel in Israel? See the compelling statistics at the end of this blog. Out of the 3.5 to 4.0 million tourists traveling annually to Israel, 600,000 of them are currently from the United States. The annual visits from USA citizens has been increasing year over year the past five years.
Israel is approximately the size of the state of New Jersey and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. You can see this if you Google an Israel map and take a quick look. Israel is a small country and it is easy to get around. Consider these drive times. It is only 15 minutes from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, 45 minutes from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, 90 minutes from Jerusalem to Masada, one hour from Tel Aviv to Haifa, 2 1/2 hours from Jerusalem to Tiberius and four hours from Tel Aviv to Eliat.
There are over 40 airlines that fly to and from Israel and 9 international cruise lines that travel there. A visa is not required, just a valid passport. There is no passport stamp. Israel is a first world country where English is spoken which makes it easy for those of us that don’t speak Hebrew and Arabic.
Israel supports a modernized medical care system that you’d find in Europe and the United States. We always encourage our clients to totally understand the parameters of their medical insurance policies while traveling overseas and to take out a good travel insurance policy, paying particular attention to the medical coverage. The premiums are negligible and provide peace of mind. The policies are priceless when needed. The pharmacies, medical offices and hospitals in Israel are well marked in English and medical information is typically available at your overnight accommodations.
Security measures are more stringent than in the United States. This fact alone has always made us feel very comfortable traveling there. Visitors to Israel are subject to more rigid background checks and security screening than in the USA. It is no secret that profiling is used during this process. Anyone suspect in anyway, country of origin or otherwise, can expect many questions and some delays. It is not unusual to come upon routine checkpoints along highway routes as well. These precautionary measures are Israel’s way of mitigating violence within its borders.
In addition, it is very common to see Israeli military throughout the country, some carrying weapons. In Israel, military service is compulsory for both males and female citizens over the age of 18. I personally find comfort in their presence. It was also fascinating talking to young men and women about their military training and education-it is very different than I expected.
Also be assured that your security and safety is of utmost importance to your tour company, guide and transfer driver while you tour the country.
There is always the threat of terrorism in Israel. Unfortunately we have found this true in most countries of the world, including the USA. Of concern to many is the history within the region, most notably with Israel and the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. This activity ebbs and flows. Things are currently relatively stable as I pen this blog.
My advice; use a knowledgeable and reputable travel agency you trust that uses reputable tour companies, hoteliers and transfer agents in this region and has a current, on-going working relationship with the Israel and Jordan tourism industries and their respective Ministries of Tourism.
If you are still concerned, keep your eye on US State Department and Embassy reports and other countries’ government travel advisories which are worthwhile but often daunting. Do keep in mind that government advisories often warn against travel to Gaza and the West Bank, but generally do not discourage travel to Israel. Again, a good tour company will keep you from harm’s way.
So, How Safe is Israel? A few compelling statistics and facts:
See the Numbeo “2017 Crime Index” which lists Israel’s crime index score at 29.01, ranking it at 103 of 125 on the list (the lower the ranking the better) which means that Israel is 82% more crime free than most countries in the world and considerably more crime free than the United states which is ranked 53 with a crime index score of 48.76.
The homicide rate in the United States is much higher than in Israel. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that the most recent statistics available list homicide in Israel at 1.7 per 100,000 citizens ranking it 60th lowest out of 218 countries while the USA is listed as 108th lowest out of 218 countries with homicides of 3.9 per 100,000 USA citizens. These statistics take into account acts of terrorism.
In a nutshell, there is no clear right to bear arms under Israeli law and ownership of firearms is strictly controlled in Israel. In accordance with Israel’s Firearms Law, 5709-1949, activities involving firearms, including the manufacture, trade, possession and use of firearms, require authorization. Accordingly, any act involving firearms for civilian use requires a special license issued by the Ministry of Public Security and approved by the police. Israeli law regulates the issuance of firearms to both civilians and soldiers. Israel maintains restrictive policies with regard to issuing and renewing firearms licenses, and restricts their use. https://www.loc.gov/law/help/firearms-control/israel.php
Israel and USA Crime Rates Compared (this is really interesting by the way!)
I always want to provide my readers full disclosure and multiple points of view. For additional reading please see:
Michael LaBaw, co-founder of World Travel Agency LLC, is a travel agent, writer and photographer. Michael sold luxury vacations in Mexico for 15 years and his wife and cofounder, Cheryl is a 32 year veteran of the airline industry. The couple leveraged this background to share their passion for travel with others. Their affiliations with Andavo Travel and the Virtuoso worldwide network provide incredible resources that ensure their clients are presented attractive alternatives, options, and amenities appropriate for the budget allotted their travel. Michael and Cheryl specialize in group tours to Israel, Jordan, Africa and India. The couple blends their extensive global travel with ongoing education to provide their clients exceptional counsel, expertise and value. While particularly knowledgeable about travel in India, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North and Central America, the couple also specializes in cruises and land destinations around the world.