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Israel & the Palestinian Territories - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events

Facts for the traveller for Israel & the Palestinian Territories

Painting, Old City, Jerusalem Visas: Unless you are a citizen of some African or Central American countries, India, Singapore or some ex-Soviet republics, you do not need a visa to enter Israel. Most tourists are allowed a three-month stay, but those entering overland from Egypt or Jordan may only be granted one month.You will be given a duplicate entry permit on arrival. Do not lose this very losable piece of paper! If you do not have a return ticket and money to cover your stay, you may be put on the next flight home. The main hassle with visiting Israel is avoiding having your passport stamped - most Arab countries will not allow you to enter if you have visited Israel. If you can, get officials to stamp your entry permit rather than your passport.
Time: GMT/UTC +2
Dialling Code: 972
Electricity: 220V ,50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

When to Go to Israel & the Palestinian Territories

Climate shouldn't be a major factor in your choice of when to go to Israel - whatever time of year it is, some part of the country is always pleasant. You might want to avoid major Jewish holidays, as the country fills up with pilgrims, accommodation prices go up and it's almost impossible to travel between cities.

Israel & the Palestinian Territories Events

Not surprisingly, Israeli holidays and festivals are mostly religious. Keep an eye out for Jewish holidays, in particular, as the country really does grind to a halt on these days and you'll have to put your travel plans on hold. The Jewish sabbath day, Shabbat, is celebrated from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, and no work may be done on this day. Yom Kippur, in October, is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. This is the day of atonement, and it is marked with 25 hours of abstinence from just about everything, combined with prayer, contemplation and confession. The Feast of Passover celebrates the Jewish exodus, led by Moses, from Egypt. For a week in April everyone eats matza, a flat, tasteless bread. Jewish festivals aren't all abstinence and abnegation, though - during Purim, held in March to celebrate Jewish resistance to assimilation, everyone is required to get so drunk that they can't distinguish the words 'bless Mordechai' from 'curse Haman'.

The big one for Muslims is Ramadan, a month where everyone fasts between sunup and sunset to conform to the fourth pillar of Islam. If you're in Israel at this time, be sensitive to the fact that most of the Muslims around you are very, very hungry. Ramadan ends with a huge feast, Eid al-Fitr, where everyone prays together, visits friends, gives presents and stuffs themselves.

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