After a sudden and deadly assault from Gaza resulted in the loss of hundreds of Israeli citizens, Israel has officially declared war on Hamas. Prime Minister’s vow of “mighty violence” and the threat to reduce Gaza to “rubble” signal a heightened state of conflict.
While Israel has long been a popular tourist destination, the ongoing violence has impacted travel. Air access remains available, but the situation has led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and alterations to cruise ship itineraries. In the initial 24 hours since the attack commenced, many flights experienced diversions or returned to their departure airports. Notably, a United Airlines flight from San Francisco embarked on a 13-hour “flight to nowhere” during this turbulent period.
These are the key questions and answers.
What does the Foreign Office say?
The Foreign Office has escalated its travel advisory, now advising against all but essential travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). This prompts holiday companies to expedite the return of their clients from Israel and prohibits mainstream tour operators from organizing new groups until the travel advisory changes. Additionally, British nationals in Israel or the OPTs are urged to register their presence and provide updated contact information. Registration facilitates the dissemination of travel advice updates. It’s essential to note that travel insurance remains valid for individuals in Israel until they safely depart, but standard policies are not applicable for those choosing to travel to Israel while the “no-go” warning is in effect.
What do the Israeli authorities say?
The Israel Ministry of Tourism has responded to recent events in Israel and expressed condolences to those affected. They are closely monitoring the situation and are committed to ensuring the safety and information of all tourists in Israel. The Ministry is providing necessary assistance and has set up a tourist hotline via WhatsApp to keep tourists informed as the situation develops. The Ministry of Tourism can be reached through WhatsApp at +972 55 972 6931 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Travelers in Israel can also dial 104 for information and advice in various languages or contact Home Front Command on WhatsApp or SMS at +972 52 910 4104.
Are Israel flights continuing?
Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv and Eilat Ramon Airport in the south of Israel continue to operate normally. Same for British Airways, EasyJet, El Al Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Wizz Air.