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Israel Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT +1 (GMT +2, Mar - Oct)

Electricity

220 volts, 50Hz; European-style two-pin and round three-pin plugs are used.

Language

Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel. Most of the population also speak English.

Travel Health

There are no special health precautions required for travel to Israel, but insect protection from August to November is recommended due to the prevalence of the West Nile virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. A hepatitis A vaccine is sometimes recommended by doctors, as is a tetanus vaccine and an MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination for those who haven't already had it. There was a measles outbreak in Tel Aviv in 2012.

Medical facilities in Israel are excellent but treatment can be very expensive, so it is essential that travellers take out full travel health insurance. It should be possible to get all necessary medications in the cities but it is always advised that travellers who need certain medications take them along on their travels, along with the prescription and a letter from their doctor.

Tipping

Tipping in Israel, according to the level of service, is expected (unless a service charge is added to the bill). About 10 percent is customary.

Safety Information

Travellers in Israel should maintain a high level of vigilance and keep up to date with developments. The risk of terrorist attacks remains high and travellers to the region, including Jerusalem, need to exercise caution particularly around locations specifically targeted by attacks in the past such as bars, nightclubs, markets and buses. Suicide bombers have targeted crowded public areas resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries over the years, and although foreigners have not been specific targets, many have been caught up in the attacks beacuse of the areas they frequent and the fact that they visit famous landmarks and religious sites. Check with local embassies for the latest travel advisory notices. All travel to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank should be avoided. There is a continuing threat of kidnap of foreign nationals in the Gaza Strip and West Bank and the frequent outbreaks of violence in these areas makes them extemely dangerous even if tourists are not directly targetted. Street crime is rare in Israel though, and generally only a problem in 'bad' areas. The mugging of foreigners is unusual but pickpocketing is not unheard of in busy market areas so visitors should take normal precautions against this kind of crime.

Local Customs

Israel is a largely religious society and religious customs should be respected. Indecent behaviour is not tolerated and offenders will be arrested and fined heavily or imprisoned. Care should be taken not to photograph any military or police personnel or installations, and visitors should be discreet about taking photographs in Jewish Orthodox areas and of Jewish Orthodox people. It is advisable to carry official identification at all times.

Business

The majority of business in Israel is centred on Tel Aviv. Dress tends to be less formal than in the USA and Europe, but business people tend to dress in suits for important meetings or presentations so formal attire is recommended. Women should dress more conservatively, especially in strictly religious areas. Business cards are usually exchanged, though with little formality involved. Meetings often do not begin promptly and much time can be given to socialising. Business hours are usually from 8.30am to 5pm, from Sunday to Thursday, and on Friday mornings. Sundays are regarded as a normal business day.

Communications

The international access code for Israel is +972. The outgoing code is 00 (not from public phones) followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). There are other outgoing codes depending on which network is used to dial out on. City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)2 for Jerusalem. Public phones are card operated and are readily available, and instruction cards state whether to dial 012, 013 or 014 for overseas. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators; otherwise mobile phones can easily be rented. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and tourist areas all over Israel.

Duty Free

Travellers to Israel do not have to pay duty on 250 cigarettes or 250g of other tobacco products; 2 litres wine and 1 litre of other types of alcoholic beverages; 250ml of eau de cologne or perfume; and gifts to the value of US$150 for residents and US$125 for non-residents. Prohibited items include fresh meat and fresh fruit (especially from South Africa).

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