Safe to Travel as a Woman in Palestine: Before coming to Palestine prospective female volunteers often voice concerns to us at the Excellence Center about traveling to Hebron alone. As there tends to be lots of media attention in the west paid to negative situations and instability in our region we understand this as a normal and valid hesitation. However in this article we will explain how prospective female volunteers need not worry about coming to Hebron, Palestine to volunteer with us at the Excellence Center.
As we stated any and all concerns you may have are things we are more than happy to speak personally with you about prior to your travels to Palestine. One’s personal concerns along with those of family and friends may feel like quite a deterrent. Many of our current female volunteers have told us how before they came (and sometimes still to this day) family and friends expressed great concern about their choice of Palestine for volunteer work. We understand this is just love being shown but we can assure you the West Bank is safe for all those who wish to come volunteer with us at the Excellence Center, for both women and men.
It is important to know the difference between Gaza and the West Bank as the security situations within the two are quite different. The West Bank is under the governance of the Palestinian Authority (PA) which is a recognized and secure governing body. There are no weapons authorized in the West Bank other than those for official army and police force members. In Gaza there are many armed groups and the Gaza Strip was under the control of Hamas for some time. It requires special permission to enter Gaza unlike the West Bank.
Palestinians in Hebron are incredibly welcoming and caring to visitors, both men and women. As a foreigner in the West Bank you are considered an honored guest no matter your gender and thus are under the protection of all locals to be taken care of and invited. As a woman the most difference you will experience in the streets of Hebron, Palestine is a lot of attention in the streets. This is mainly because Hebron does not experience a large amount of international visitors. As a woman you do not have to cover your head (and are not expected to) other than when entering a mosque.
People all over Palestine will be kind and inviting to you. Just like all cities it is not recommended to walk the streets alone at night, it is mainly just uncustomary. Wearing modest clothes that cover wrists to ankles is common practice. We do not get negative feedback from our female volunteers here at the Excellence Center, rather the opposite. As a woman you are respected and treated with common courtesy as you would be anywhere else in the world. Traveling alone is thus not an issue.
People on the street in Palestine are always more than happy to help you should you need anything at all. Additionally your host family will take you under their wing and treat you as if you are one of the family and can thus offer any advice or guidance you may need. Should you have any concerns or questions please do contact us at the Excellence Center and we will help you in any way you need!