Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
Travelers are being urged to reconsider visiting Israel as cross-border fighting rages between Israeli forces and Hamas militants. The State Department issued a Level 3 travel advisory for Israel and the West Bank on October 11, stating that “terrorist groups, lone-actor terrorists and other violent extremists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.”
People in the region face the threat of mortar and rocket fire, which may happen without warning, according to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
Commercial flights are still available, but they’re extremely limited. The biggest airport in Israel, Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, is still operational as of this reporting. However, international flights may be delayed or canceled, including flights from Tel Aviv to European countries.
U.S. Citizens Leaving Israel by Land and Air
The Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens leave Israel using the border crossings into Jordan, including the Allenby Bridge, if possible.
Travel assistance for U.S. citizens leaving Israel by air began on Friday. People who want U.S. government help getting out of Israel must complete a crisis intake form. This form can be completed by family members on behalf of U.S. citizens.
Under this option, chartered flights will be provided that will take American citizens to nearby safe locations. Passengers on these flights won’t necessarily go back to the United States right away. People airlifted out on these flights:
- Won’t be able to choose where they go
- Will have to arrange their own lodging when they land
- Will be able to get help in that location from U.S. Embassy officials
- Will have to arrange their own travel to their final destination
- Must agree to repay the U.S. government
The government is exploring departure options by land and sea as well, according to White House spokesperson John Kirby. “We’re just trying to add to the options,” Kirby said in a press briefing on October 12.
Compare & Buy Travel Insurance
U.S. Travel to Israel: Suspensions and Travel Waivers
Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines—the three major U.S. airlines that operate flights to and from Israel—have temporarily suspended flights.
Delta has canceled all flights to Tel Aviv through October 31, 2023. Customers with existing reservations will receive notification of cancellation via the contact information they used to book the trip and on the Fly Delta app.
Travelers can book flights to Tel Aviv for November 1, 2023, and later through New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. However, booking for travel between Tel Aviv and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport or Boston Logan International Airport will remain on hold.
Delta is offering waivers for all affected customers so they can rebook flights through September 6, 2024. Delta customers may also request a refund on the Fly Delta app, at delta.com or by calling Delta reservations for refund support.
United Airlines has discontinued service to Tel Aviv indefinitely. If you had reservations to or from Ben Gurion Airport or Queen Alia International Airport near Amman, Jordan between October 7, 2023, and October 31, 2023, you may be eligible for a refund or to reschedule your flight. You must have purchased your ticket on or before October 6, 2023.
If you reschedule your flight, United Airlines will waive change fees and any additional fare. The new flight must be on United and depart before November 30, 2023. In addition, the tickets must be in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally booked or to one of the following:
- Amman, Jordan
- Athens, Greece
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
However, if you cancel the flight or cannot take your trip, United will give you a full refund.
American Airlines has canceled travel to Israel through December 5, 2023. For reservations to or from Ben Gurion Airport, change fees are waived for eligible customers who purchased tickets before October 6, 2023 for any fare class, including basic economy.
You must have been scheduled to travel between October 7 and December 4, 2023. In order to change your flight with the fee waiver, you must reschedule your trip to any time between December 5, 2023, to January 31, 2024. The origin and destination city must also remain the same. If you change the cabin type, you’ll be responsible for the fare difference.
You may also cancel your trip and request a refund.
Travel Insurance Is Highly Recommended
For those who must travel to Israel, the State Department recommends getting comprehensive travel medical insurance that includes medical evacuation prior to travel.
Emergency medical evacuation coverage is used when travelers get ill or injured and the necessary treatment or facilities are not available locally. In these instances, the insured traveler would be transported to the nearest capable facility.
Most travel insurance packages do not cover mental health-related illnesses or care.
The State Department also encourages travelers to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP. It’s a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy locate you in emergencies and send you alerts about safety conditions and threats in your area. STEP also helps family members and friends contact you in an emergency.
What Is a Level Three Travel Advisory?
The State Department organizes travel safety into four categories or travel advisory levels. They range from Level One to Level Four. Level One is the safest category, where people only need to take normal travel precautions. Level Four indicates the highest degree of danger; State Department officials advise travelers to avoid these areas.
Currently, Israel and the West Bank are at Level Three, which means the State Department recommends that you reconsider traveling to the region.
If you do travel to these places or to Gaza, which is at Level Four, the State Department advises you to use extreme caution. Here are some safety measures you should take while traveling in these areas.
- Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
- Continuously monitor the U.S. Embassy website for alerts and current information.
- Use extreme caution at all times, particularly at checkpoints and where security forces are present.
- Find out where the nearest bomb shelter or hardened shelter is located.
- Use the Home Front Command Red Alert app for mobile devices to receive real-time alerts of rocket attacks. You can find the app on both the Apple store and Google Play.
- Put together a contingency plan for emergency situations.
Best Travel Insurance Plans Of 2023