Travelling to the West Bank from Israel

travelling1Travelling to the West Bank from Israel : A common question for visitors to Palestine is how difficult is it to travel to Palestine? Given all the borders are controlled by Israel, including the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and Palestine, visitors may be concerned about potential problems or inconveniences about crossing these borders, or the many checkpoints around the West Bank. In fact, some people may be put off visiting Palestine at all given the added complication of multiple borders. However, visitors should not be discouraged, as for most people crossings are unproblematic and smooth.

The easiest way of getting to the West Bank from abroad is to fly to Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. Some may be worried about whether they should mention their trip to the West Bank to airport security, but it is generally advised to be honest and truthful. Tourist destinations such as Bethlehem and Jericho won’t be questioned, but spending a long time in another area of the West Bank may lead to further questioning, some of which may be personal. However, in general, you will not be denied entrance unless your reason to visit is political activism. Once you enter Israel and get a visa, you are allowed into the West Bank, and can come and go when you like.

From the airport, you can take a licensed taxi – either private or shared – straight to East Jerusalem. You can also get an Israeli bus to West Jerusalem, where it will be easy to change to another bus from Damascus Gate going to any city in the West Bank.

The checkpoints are often quite laid back affairs for international visitors, and they will simply check that you have a valid passport and visa on your way back into Israel. In Hebron for example, there are multiple checkpoints across the city, but they can be crossed easily and indeed many people cross several times a day just to and from work or socialising.

Public transportation can also be used to get across checkpoints, so you don’t always have to change buses or taxis at checkpoints. An easy way of transport is a shared taxi, called a sherut in Israel and a service in Palestine. If you are visiting Israel and Palestine for tourism, you can also rent a car that can take you across both Israel and Palestine. However, many car rental services only allow you to drive in Areas B and C (which don’t include most big West Bank cities), so make sure that you pick a car rental service that allow cars to drive in Area A.

In conclusion, travelling to the West Bank from Israel is relatively easy for international visitors, especially if they are just visiting the main tourist attractions, and checkpoints should certainly not put off any potential visitor. However, travel to Gaza is highly restricted and it is a very dangerous place to visit. Visitors are required to apply in advance for permission from the Israelis, and they are rarely granted.  

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