On Saturday October 7, Islamist group Hamas launched an attack on Israel from Gaza, and Israel has since declared war. The situation is taking a terrible toll on residents of both Israel and the Gaza Strip. And regional instability also has many knock-on effects – including on those wishing to travel in this beautiful part of the world.
Travel companies and governments have quickly issued travel advice, as many cruises and flights have been cancelled or diverted to avoid the conflict. The situation is being closely monitored, so here is everything we know so far about the impact on travel and all the up-to-date advice for those with visits planned to the region.
Is it safe to travel to Egypt?
The UK Foreign Office is not warning against travel to tourist areas in Egypt, such as the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada or the city of Cairo.
It is advising against all travel to the following areas:
- Egypt-Libya border (within 20 km)
- North Sinai
- Northern part of South Sinai
- The eastern part of Ismailiyah Governorate
- Western Desert
- Hala’ib Triangle and Bir Tawil Trapezoid
Two Israeli tourists and their Egyptian guide were killed in Alexandria after a police officer opened fire on some Israeli travellers on October 8, in the wake of the outbreak of the conflict.
What are your rights if you’ve booked a trip to Israel or Egypt?
Because of the updated travel advice for Israel from the UK Foreign Office, you should be able to cancel your trip and get a refund. This doesn’t apply to Egypt, however, as the Foreign Office has not advised against travel to Egypt.
How about if you have a package holiday booked to Egypt?
Because the Foreign Office has not advised against all travel to Egypt, those with package holidays booked do not have grounds for a refund if they cancel their trip. Travellers are advised to check with their holiday provider to see if any flexibility can be offered.
How far is Israel from Egypt?
Egypt is to the west of Israel. The transcontinental country shares a border with Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Where is the conflict happening in Israel?
The conflict began in the areas of southern Israel surrounding the Gaza Strip, an area that has been controlled by Hamas since 2007. Several towns were attacked by Hamas militants but were reclaimed by Israeli forces. Israeli airstrikes are ongoing in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents have so far moved to the southern part of the Gaza Strip as an expected Israeli ground operation nears.
Is it safe to travel to Israel?
On Sunday October 8, the UK Foreign Office updated its travel advice to recommend against all but essential travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Essentially, this means that holiday companies are required to remove their customers from the area, and tour operators are not allowed to send out anyone else until the advice changes.
According to the UK Foreign Office website, ‘the Israeli government has declared a state of emergency across the whole country. International borders (air and land) in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) could close at short notice.’
What is the UK Foreign Office saying?
The UK Foreign Office has issued advice against all but essential travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and against all travel to the following areas:
- within 4km of the border with Lebanon. The Israeli military have announced that the area is a closed military zone and entry into the area is prohibited.
- the Sheba’a Farms and Ghajjar
- within 500m of the border with Lebanon (the ‘Blue Line’) east of Metula, including the northern edge of the town and within 500m of the border with Syria (the ‘Alpha Line’)
- the area close to the border with Gaza that includes:
- southwest of Ashkelon
- south of route 35 and west of route 40 as far as Tlalim, not including Be’er Sheva
- west of Be’er Sheva
- north of route 211
It also advises those in an area in Israel affected by the fighting to register their presence.
What is the US Department of State saying?
As of October 14, the US Department of State is advising against all travel to Gaza and ‘Reconsider Travel’ to Israel and the West Bank.
Have flights been cancelled?
The majority of airlines are diverting or cancelling flights amid the growing crisis. In Europe, major airlines including British Airways, easyJet, Finnair, Lufthansa, Norwegian Air, Virgin Atlantic and WizzAir have suspended all flights to Tel Aviv. Major North American airlines including Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines have also suspended all flights to Israel until further notice.
Is travel to other countries near Israel safe?
The Foreign Office is not currently advising against travel to countries neighbouring Israel, but its advice may change quickly as violence escalates. The Foreign Office does advise against travel within three miles of Jordan’s border with Syria. Read our travel advice for Türkiye and our travel advice for Jordan.
For all the information on how you can donate to support and provide relief to those impacted by the conflict in Israel, read our guide here.
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