Israel, Middle East - Wontra Travels

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Welcome to Israel

Israel
  • Capital: Jerusalem
  • Currency: New Shekel (ILS)
  • Dialling Code: +972
  • Driving Side: Right
  • Demonym: Israeli
  • Official Languages: Hewbrew, Arabic
  • Population: 8,819,200 (2018)
  • Religion (2016): 74.7% Jewish, 17.7% Muslim, 2.0% Christian, 1.6% Druze, 4.0% other
  • Time Zone: IST (UTC+2) / IDT (UTC+3)

 

Israel is a Middle-Eastern country with a long coastline on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. Officially the State of Israel, the diverse country shares land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest.

Israel was established as a homeland for the Jewish people and is often referred to as a Jewish state. Tel Aviv is the country’s economy and technology center, while Jerusalem is its seat of government and proclaimed capital, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem is not recognised internationally.

The State of Israel is regarded by the world’s major monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—as the biblical holy land. The city of Jerusalem is home to a number of sacred sites that are pivotal to the religious beliefs of Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Some of the sites include the Old City that incorporates the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Other religious landmarks and locations include Nazareth (Christianity), Tiberias and Safed (Judaism), the White Mosque in Ramla (Islam) and the Church of Saint George in Lod (Christianity and Islam).

Israel has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew is the primary language of the state while Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority, with Hebrew taught in Arab schools. It is considered the most advanced country in Southwest Asia and the Middle East in economic and industrial development.

Tourism, especially religious tourism, is an important industry in Israel, with the country's temperate climate, beaches, archaeological, other historical and biblical sites, and unique geography also drawing tourists. The best time to visit is March-June or October-November, although climate shouldn't be a major consideration in choosing a time to visit.

 

Information & Facts

Business

In Jewish towns, Business days are Sunday through Friday allowing for observance of the Sabbath from sundown on Friday until nightfall on Saturday. While some shops in these towns re-open on Saturday evening, other shops as well as 24-hour convenience stores in secular towns remain open on Saturdays.

Shops in malls and on major shopping streets are generally open from 9:30 to 21:00 daily. Banks and post offices, as well as some smaller shops, stick to traditional business hours of 8:30-19:00, with a lunch break from about 13:00 to 16:00, so do check.

Climate

In Israel the climate is temperate, and temperatures all year round are reasonable. Israel has two main seasons: Winter (from November to March) is cold and rainy in most parts of the country; summer (from April to October) is hot and dry with little or no rainfall. The desert areas can be extremely hot in summer time.

Customs

Israel’s diverse culture stems from the diversity of its population: Jews from diaspora communities around the world have brought their cultural and religious traditions back with them, creating a melting pot of Jewish customs and beliefs. Israel's substantial Arab minority has also left its imprint on Israeli culture in such spheres as architecture, music, and cuisine.

Israel is the only country in the world where life revolves around the Hebrew calendar. Holidays (School and work) are determined by the Jewish holidays, and the official day of rest is Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. – Wikipedia

 

Duty Free

Arriving passengers, travellers and tourists to Israel are permitted bring with them the following items free of duty and taxes.These duty free allowances are per individual, may not be combined and are subject to age.

  • Alcohol (18 years of age or older): 1 litre of alcoholic spirit + 2 litres of wine (18 years of age or older).
  • Tobacco (18 years of age or older): 250 grams per passenger
  • Perfumes: 250 ml of perfume or eau de toilette.
  • Personal Effects: Personal clothing and toiletries are permitted. Jewellery, camera, laptop computer and personal sports equipment are also allowed but must be used. If any item is new it must be declared.
  • Gifts & Presents (Aged 2 or over): Presents and gifts up to the value of $200 (two hundred US dollars) are permitted.

Electricity

Electricity in Israel is at 220 volts 50 Hz and the European plug with two round pins is in use. Necessary converters and adapters needs to be brought along to operate any 120 volt appliances such as hair dryers and electric razors as well as camera and cell phone chargers

Getting Around

Israel’s public transportation system is one of the best in the world. For movements around, there are local flights, taxis, car rentals, buses and some limited train service between major destinations. Also, public transport is used heavily by soldiers traveling to/from their bases.

  • Bus: For Israelis and tourists, buses are the cheapest, easiest and fastest ways of traveling between the major cities of Israel. In order to get the best routes available, the most advised means is to use public transport mobile apps such as Moovit or Google Maps.
  • Domestic Flights: While most tourists get around by car or bus, there are local flights to Eliat, Israel’s southernmost city, via Tel Aviv.
  • Sheruts (Shared Vans or Service taxi): Sheruts are more comfortable and faster than normal buses. They follow major bus routes arund the cities and can be hailed from anywhere on the route. In most caases, they run 7 days a week, including Shabbat and operations hours may be longer during the day.
  • Taxis: Taxis in Israel are metered and generally less expensive than those in Europe and the U.S.
  • Train: Train travel is gradually gaining momentum in Israel and the state-owned Israel Railways has undergone various upgrades over the past few years. Most of the train also offer free electricity points for charging mobuile devices and laptops as well as free Wi-Fi.

Health

Modern medical care and medicines are available in Israel. Service may be somewhat limited on Fridays and Saturdays so special attention should be paid to making arrangements in advance if possible for service on these days. Travelers can find information written in English about emergency medical facilities and after-hours pharmacies in the "Jerusalem Post" newspaper. – GlobalTrade.Net

Language

Israel has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. As a result of this vast mix of culture; Russian, French, Spanish, Amharic and Yiddish are also spoken by a significant minority of the population. Hebrew is the primary language of the state and is spoken every day by the majority of the population. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority, with Hebrew taught in Arab schools. - Wikipedia

Money

The Israeli New Shekel (ILS) is the currency of Israel and is also used as a legal tender in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The new shekel is divided into 100 agora.

Passport Visa

Many countries have a Visa Waiver program with Israel which allows their citizens to visit Israel without a visa arranged in advance. Individuals from countries, who require an entry visa to Israel, should contact the Israel Embassy/ Consulate in their country in order to obtain their tourist visa.

Visitors must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date they enter Israel. For tourists continuing from Israel on to Arab countries (Except Egypt and Jordan): It is recommended that you request that an Israeli stamp does not appear on your passport. You must notify the clerk at the passport control of your request before your documents are stamped.

Note: Passport and visa requirements may change at short notice. Travelers are advised to check their entry requirements with the Israeli Embassy/ Consulate or with their travel agent.

Safety

When there is no fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants, travel to Israel is relatively safe, and most other crime rates are well below those found in most other Western Countries. Having said this, buses and bus-stops have been targeted by Palestinian terrorist groups since the early 1990s. Statistically in Israel, the chances of being involved in a traffic accident are much higher than the chances of being involved in an attack. It is still a good idea to stay informed of developments before and during your stay. Caution should be used particularly in the disputed areas.

If you see anyone acting suspiciously, or find an untended parcel, notify the Police. Also, never leave a bag unattended in a public area, as it may be suspected as a bomb.

Time

The Israel Stanadard Time (IST) is two hours ahead of GMT (GMT +2) and seven hours ahead of EST (EST +7). The IST came into full effect with the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, and Israel also shares the UTC+2 timezone with all of its neighbouring countries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

As of July 2013, the Israel Daylight Saving Time or Israel Summer Time (IDT) begin on the Friday before the last Sunday of March, and end on the last Sunday of October.

Tipping

The Israeli public is generally sympathetic to the fact that waiters and bartenders are poorly paid, and with most of these workers being students, leave a tip generously. A regular tip for a waiter in Israel is 10-15% depending on how good the service was and how much you ordered. Taxi drivers in Israel do not generally expect to be tipped. – Tourist Israel

 

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