What You Should Know About Entering Palestine

go-to-palestine“My arrival in Israel was different than any other country I had previously traveled to, as the security precautions are far greater. When I arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport, I was required to explain where I was going in Israel, where I had previously been, why I had been there, and what I was planning to do while visiting Israel. It is not uncommon for those traveling to the West Bank to be held up at the airport for quite some time.

But please don’t get scared – it is super easy to come to Palestine. Just remember not to get nervous when they ask you to answer some security questions. Everything generally works out fine. Also, this procedure is not a must, and most volunteers who come receive Visas immediately without any extra questioning. After satisfying the security requirements of Israel, you will receive a three month tourist visa. The visa is printed on a piece of paper that is placed into your passport, and no stamp is given.

Getting transportation from Ben Gurion Airport is incredibly easy. All of the public transportation services, such as private taxis and shared taxis (called Sherut in Israel and Service in the West Bank) are found right outside the main entrance. For the shared taxis you may have to wait until it is full before they will depart.

From Ben Gurion Airport, I travelled to Hebron via a Sherut to Jerusalem, then to Bethlehem, and then took another to Hebron. The most direct route is to take a Sherut from Ben Gurion Airport to Damascus Gate. This should cost approximately NIS 36. From Damascus Gate, you can take a Service to Hebron for approximately NIS 25.

The languages spoken in this region are mainly Hebrew in Israel, and Arabic in the West Bank. However, many people speak English, and even if they don’t they are more than willing to help you with everything. So don’t worry if you don’t speak any Arabic or Hebrew. However, it is highly recommended that you learn a few basic phrases in Arabic, such as hello, please, thank you, can you help me, and where is…. These few phrases will help you get to Hebron with ease. Palestinians are incredibly warm and welcoming, and are always willing to help.

When traveling in Palestine, you will encounter checkpoints. These checkpoints are placed along the boarders between Israel and the West Bank. You will also find them when moving from a Palestinian city to either a mixed section of the city, or into an Israeli settlement. It is advised that you carry your passport with your visa inside at all times. You may not be checked every time you travel between the West Bank and Israel, but it’s always better to have your Visa just in case.

The cost of living in Palestine is relatively cheap compared to the USA or West Europe. Taxis are a common form of transportation and are cheap and easy to use. Food is incredibly cheap as well. A common food for lunch is falafels, which can be bought for NIS 3. Or shawarma, which can be shared among 3 or 4 people and costs NIS 7. Also, if you are a girl, you will be living with a host family so you will spend less money on food. Usually, you will eat dinners with your host family on a daily basis.

Generally, entering Palestine is easier than you may expect. Please don’t believe much of the discouraging information presented in the media and get worried about traveling here. It is such a wonderful country full of welcoming people. The local hospitality is something unique here, and for many travelers, it is something you don’t experience at home”. Lucie from Czech Republic who volunteered in Palestine