Editor note: This article is regularly updated as new information becomes available and is accurate as of 10:30 a.m. EDT on Oct. 19. For the most up-to-date information, contact the U.S. Department of State or similar official websites.
Escalating violence has taken an increasingly deadly toll on residents of both Israel and the Gaza Strip. While much less important, it has created instability for travel and travelers across the extended region.
If you have travel plans for Israel or neighboring territories such as Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus and Turkey in the coming months, you must look closely at travel restrictions and advisories to the area. If you still plan to travel to regions where travel is advised against, please be aware that this may invalidate any insurance coverage you already have in place.
Here is everything we know so far about the impact on travel with up-to-date advice from both the United Kingdom and the U.S. governments.
Is it safe to travel to Israel?
What the US government says about travel to Israel
The U.S. Department of State has a four-tier travel advisory system, ranging from “Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions” to “Level 4: Do Not Travel.” Israel is currently listed as “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” While this could change at any time, it is not currently at the highest tier, which may come as a bit of a surprise considering major airlines have suspended flights into the country.
The State Department did, however, post the following on Oct. 14:
Terrorist groups, lone-actor terrorists and other violent extremists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. Terrorists and violent extremists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza without warning. There has been a marked increase in demonstrations throughout Israel, some with little or no warning.
Additionally, the State Department has also highlighted the following warnings:
Do not travel to:
- Gaza due to terrorism, civil unrest and armed conflict
Reconsider travel to:
- Israel due to terrorism and civil unrest
- West Bank due to terrorism and civil unrest
What the UK government says about travel to Israel
The U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office currently advises against all but essential travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The FCDO advises against all travel to the following locations:
- Within 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) of the border with Lebanon; this area is now a closed military zone
- Shebaa Farms and Ghajar
- Within 0.3 miles (500 meters) of the border with Syria
- Areas close to the Gaza border, which include 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; and north of Route 211
This advice is accurate as of Oct. 17.
Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice. Consular support is also severely limited where FCDO advises against travel.
Is it safe to travel to Egypt?
Egypt shares a border with Israel and Gaza, though most of Egypt’s major tourist destinations are a considerable distance away. The country’s capital, Cairo, is situated 0.2 miles (348 kilometers) from Gaza and 0.4 miles (645 kilometers) from Israel.
What the US government says about travel to Egypt
The U.S. has not updated its travel advisory to Egypt since July 13, so the current crisis is not part of its “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” recommendation.
There is an additional “Do not travel” warning, also from July, for the following areas:
- The Sinai Peninsula (with the exception of travel to Sharm El-Sheikh by air) due to terrorism
- The Western Desert due to terrorism
- Egyptian border areas due to military zones
However, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo posted this regional security alert on Oct. 9:
The situation in Israel continues to be unpredictable, and U.S. citizens throughout the region should take caution. Individuals should follow local government advice to increase their security awareness, avoid areas around demonstrations, and check local media for updates and traffic advisories. U.S. citizens who need assistance should contact the closest U.S. embassy or consulate.
What the UK government says about travel to Egypt
As of Oct. 10, the FCDO advises against all travel to the following locations in Egypt:
- Within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the Egypt-Libya border, except for the town of El Salloum, where the FCDO advises against all but essential travel
- North Sinai
The FCDO also advises against all but essential travel in the following locations in Egypt:
- The northern part of South Sinai beyond the St. Catherine-Nuweiba road, except for coastal areas along the west and east peninsula
- The eastern part of the Ismailiyah governorate east of the Suez Canal
- Western desert area, west of the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta regions, with the exception of Luxor, Qena, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings; the Faiyum governorate; coastal areas between the Nile Delta and Marsa Matrouh; Marsa Matrouh-Siwa Road; Siwa Oasis; the Giza governorate northeast of Bahariya Oasis; the road between Giza and Farafra; Bahariya Oasis, Farafra, the White Desert and the Black Desert; and the Halaib Triangle and Bir Tawil
Additionally, British citizens in Gaza wanting to enter Egypt are advised to check the status of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Israel and the Occupied Palestinean Territories before attempting to travel.
Travel through this crossing, according to the FCDO, is taken at your own risk and should only be undertaken if you judge it is safe to do so.
Is it safe to travel to Jordan?
Israel shares its long vertical western border with Jordan. This border stretches 300 miles (482 kilometers) from the Golan Heights in the north to the Red Sea in the south. There are three crossing points in the north, central and southern areas. Although it’s possible to drive between the two capital cities of Jerusalem and Amman, Jordan, in less than two hours, the route goes directly through the Palestinian West Bank territories.
What the US government says about travel to Jordan
Although Jordan shares a border with Israel and the West Bank, the U.S. Department of State has not issued an updated travel advisory for the country since June.
The current advisory is “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution” (a mild warning that is the same level currently assessed to much of southern Europe, including Spain and Italy).
What the UK government says about travel to Jordan
As of Oct. 12, travel to Jordan is still permitted, according to the FCDO, though travel within 1.86 miles (3 kilometers) of Jordan’s border with Syria should only be undertaken if “absolutely essential.”
The FCDO has, however, advised that crossings between Jordan and Israel may be closed at short notice. If you’re planning to make this journey, you should check with local authorities and travel advice for Israel and the Occupied Palestinean Territories before attempting to do so.
While the political situation in Jordan remains stable, numerous protests and demonstrations are happening throughout the country, which, while largely peaceful, “can become confrontational,” advises the FCDO.
Travel to Jordan is permitted. However, you’re advised that the country is at risk of terror attacks and has seen numerous incidents since 2016.
Is it safe to travel to Cyprus?
The island of Cyprus is 150 miles (240 kilometers) west of Israel. It takes less than an hour to fly to the island from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), which is in the coastal city of Tel Aviv. Although Cyprus is considered a European destination rather than one in the Middle East, its proximity makes it a popular place to visit from Israel.
What the US government says about travel to Cyprus
There are no security alerts for Cyprus, and the U.S. Department of State lists it as “Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions” (the lowest travel advisory).
What the UK government says about travel to Cyprus
As of Oct. 18, the FCDO has not issued any travel warnings regarding Cyprus.
Is it safe to travel to Turkey?
Turkey is 550 miles (879 kilometers) north of Israel, just above Lebanon and Syria. The two countries do not share a border, though it only takes 90 minutes to fly between the two regions.
What the US government says about travel to Turkey
The U.S. Department of State has not updated its advisory for Turkey since July. The country is currently listed as “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution,” which isn’t unusual. Again, Germany, Italy and Spain all have Level 2 advisories as well.
However, there is an addition to the advisory to avoid the southern border with Syria:
Do not travel to:
- Sirnak province, Hakkari province and any area within 6 miles (10 kilometers) of the Syrian border due to terrorism
What the UK government says about travel to Turkey
The FCDO advises against all travel to the following locations in Turkey:
- Travel within 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) of the border with Syria
- All but essential travel to the city of Sirnak
- All but essential travel to Hakkari province
Are flights and cruises being canceled?
As the current crisis continues to escalate, many major airlines have either diverted or canceled flights to Israel.
In the U.S., airlines that have suspended flights to Israel include:
- Air Canada
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- United Airlines
Within Europe, the following airlines have also suspended flights to Tel Aviv:
- British Airways
- Air France
- Norwegian Air
- Virgin Atlantic
Additionally, numerous cruise lines have also canceled calls at the Israeli ports of Ashdod and Haifa, including:
- Holland America
- Celebrity Cruises
- MSC Cruises
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- Oceania Cruises
- Celestyal Cruises
What are your rights if you’ve booked a trip to an affected region?
If your flight is canceled due to the ongoing conflict, you are entitled to a full refund by your airline. You should contact the carrier directly to arrange this if it has not already contacted you.
If you would like to cancel an upcoming trip to a neighboring region, it’s advised that you may not be entitled to a full refund unless your government has advised against traveling to that specific destination. However, in these scenarios, we’d advise reaching out to your airline directly, as it may be able to offer alternative resolutions or changes.
Check out this guide for more information on what to do if your flight is canceled.
The conflicts in Israel and Gaza have escalated quickly over recent weeks, and travel to either region is not currently advised. Additionally, the related effects also have the potential to impact neighboring destinations such as Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus and Turkey.