Israel has one of the most contested pieces of property in the history of the human race. It’s also a huge tourist destination.
There is no denying that Israel is a huge tourist destination. The country currently holds the property lien to Jerusalem. People have been fighting over the old city for thousands of years and they will continue to do so for years to come. It holds religious significance to all the world’s major religious institutions — Judaism, Christianity and Muslims. With that said, it’s probably one of the safest cities to visit due to its sacred nature.
The security in the old city is ridiculous. The best comparison would be a Fort Knox but a couple of steps down due to the tourism. Every part of the city has cameras and every quarter is secured with arm guards checking who comes in and out of the quarter. It’s pretty intense.
In the Middle East, Israel has a big bull’s eye on them, so they’re pretty paranoid about who they let in and out of the country. I’m not going to go deep into the political situation but I will say there are three sides to the story — Israel’s, Muslim countries’, and the truth. Israel’s TSA is always on heightened alert and they will profile you so expect delays. With all this said, there are a few things people should know before traveling to Israel:
I didn’t find it difficult to enter Israel with a Western country’s passport. However, I did notice Muslims being detained and interrogated when trying to enter. When I was showing my passport to enter, there was a group of Muslims being detained as their backgrounds were being checked. However, leaving the country is another story.
Everyone I know who has gone to Israel has shared the same story. Exiting Israel is hell. The Israelis are known for doing extensive searches where they ask tourists to open up their social media accounts to verify their identity. In addition, they assign people a bar code depending on your potential risk. I heard it could be anywhere from 1 to 9; this is the first number on your bar code. The higher the number the longer your delay. I was given 5s and 6s when I boarded any plane originating within Israel.
The Bar Codes
The bar codes is used to indicate your potential risk. It could be anywhere from 1 to 9; this is the first number on your bar code. The lower the number the less of a risk they consider you. In addition, 7 or higher are restricted to groups they view as terrorists (i.e., Muslims).
After a day trip to Petra, I was interrogated for an hour and my bags were searched at the Eilat airport trying to board a plane back to Tel Aviv. I almost missed my flight. I was given 5s and 6s on my passport/boarding passes at the Ben Gurion, Sde Dov, and Eilat airports. The little TSA turds gave me a hard time for two main reasons — my Egyptian/UAE/Jordan visa stamps and the added visa pages in my U.S. passport.
There are tensions between Israel and all the other Muslim countries in the region. Israel doesn’t stamp your passport, but the other Muslim countries do. Therefore, the best way to visit the Middle East is to visit Israel first then make your way through the Muslim countries. This way you will not be delayed when trying to leave the Israel because there will not be any Muslim visa stamps in your passport. Furthermore, the Muslim countries will not give you a hard time about visiting Israel since Israel doesn’t stamp your passport.
Those are my travel tips to Israel. Let us know if you have any additional tips in the comment section below!