Using Your Smartphone in Palestine: At the Excellence Center we receive many inquiries cell phone use once you arrive here in Hebron, Palestine. These are very important questions as we know cell phones are such a part of daily life all over the word and are the main mode of communication used. Below we will explain how this works in Palestine.
There are two modes of cell phone use available to our international volunteers and most people take advantage of both. We will begin by addressing smart phones. Almost everyone asks if they should bring their smart phone with them and if so, will it work in the West Bank? Our international volunteers are able to use their smart phones to communicate only when they are connected to Wi-Fi. Currently, Palestine is still without 3G network. However there are many opportunities throughout the day to be connected to Wi-Fi. The center of course has Wi-Fi so you will be connected throughout your workday. For after work or on days off there is an almost endless list of coffee shops just on the same street as the Excellence Center and even more throughout the city at large, all of which have Wi-Fi. Additionally most restaurants offer Wi-Fi. Many host families have Wi-Fi in their homes but some do not.
On smart phones, the main avenue of communication used in Hebron between internationals and some locals as well is Whatsapp. This App allows free messaging, voice calls and video calls with anyone in your contact list who also has the App installed on their phone. Additionally this is any easy means of communicating internationally with friends and family back home as there are no charges regardless of what far away country you want to call or message. Other options used are apps like Skype, Fb Messenger or Viber. However, remember these will only work when you are connected to the internet.
For local calls (like to your host family, Palestinian friends, the EC and other internationals when not connected to Wi-Fi) you must get a Palestinian sim card. Most volunteers bring an old flip phone with them and upon arrival they purchase a Palestinian sim card for the phone. There are two phone companies in Palestine, Jaawal and Wataniya. Jawaal is located just several blocks up the street from the Excellence Center. Sim cards are free but you must purchase credit for minutes. For 10ILS you will get approximately 25 minutes, 50ILS will get roughly 150 minutes, etc. If you run out of minutes you can go into any mobile shop and tell them you “need to purchase credit” and then tell them which company your sim card was purchased from.
We recommend that our international volunteers take advantage of both these forms of cell phone use as they each have their own benefits and restrictions, yet together they complement each other and allow for the broadest ability to communicate during your stay here in Palestine. Additionally we are hoping that by January or February we may finally have 3G here in the West Bank, time will tell.