Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

Location: Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza

Event: The Israeli Ministry of Health confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders.

On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure of U.S. personnel and family members who have been medically determined to be at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19.

Effective March 16, U.S. Embassy Jerusalem and Embassy Branch Office Tel Aviv suspended routine consular services.  For emergency American Citizens Services, including emergency passports, please visit our website for additional information.  Many travelers worldwide have reported unexpected flight cancellations and limited flight availability.  If your travel has been disrupted, please contact your airline.

On March 18, the Government of Israel announced that foreigners, including U.S. citizens, who are not Israeli citizens or permanent residents will not be allowed to enter Israel.  Exceptions may be made only for non-nationals whose lives are based in Israel.  Such individuals who wish to travel to Israel should contact the consular department of the closest Israeli embassy or consulate for further information.  We recommend travelers not board flights to Israel without a pre-clearance letter from the Israeli government as there is otherwise no assurance they will be admitted into the country.

On March 18, the Israeli Ministry of Health released updated guidelines regarding COVID-19 in Israel.  These guidelines include closures of schools, commercial/dining establishments, heritage sites, and parks/beaches, as well as restrictions on movements, gatherings, and public transportation.  For a full list of guidelines, please visit the Israeli Ministry of Health website:  Israeli Ministry of Health website.

As of March 18, the Government of Israel announced the closure of its borders with Egypt and Jordan.  The areas of the West Bank under Government of Israel control fall under the Israeli guidelines, above.  The areas of the West Bank under Palestinian Authority control fall under the Palestinian Authority guidelines, below.

The Palestinian Authority has confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The Palestinian Authority announced a state of emergency for 30 days, effective March 5, 2020.  All tourist and religious sites have been closed, effective March 6, 2020.  Educational institutions (schools, preschools, training centers, colleges, universities), churches, mosques, conference centers, sporting events, demonstrations, strikes, and large gatherings (possibly of 50 persons or more) have been suspended for 14 to 30 days, effective March 6, 2020.  The Palestinian Authority has requested tourists cancel their hotel reservations in Bethlehem and surrounding suburbs.

Most checkpoints between Jerusalem and Bethlehem and Bethlehem’s surrounding suburbs in the West Bank have been closed until further notice.  Additional checkpoints might be closed on short notice.  If you are traveling from the West Bank to Ben Gurion airport for onward departure, you must appear at a checkpoint no earlier than six hours prior to your scheduled flight and present proof of travel.  All travelers, including U.S. citizens, passing through any open checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank may be subject to increased scrutiny and significant delays.  Land border crossings may be closed with little or no advance notice.

Beginning March 17 and until further notice, the Government of Jordan has suspended all inbound and outbound flights and closed land and sea borders to passenger traffic.

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health announced that starting on March 16, 2020, all visitors entering areas of the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority’s control via the Allenby border crossing will be subject to a mandatory medical check at the border.  Anyone suspected of being infected will be subject to a 14-day quarantine at the Ministry of Health facility in Jericho.  All other visitors will be subject to a 14-day quarantine at home.  Non-residents might be denied entry.

In Gaza, according to the de facto authority, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date.  The Government of Israel has stated that dual Palestinian-foreign nationals living in Gaza will not be allowed out of Gaza via the Erez border crossing.  The de facto authority in Gaza stated that travel in and out of Gaza will only be permitted for urgent humanitarian cases and that those coming into Gaza will be quarantined either at Rafah border quarantine area or at specified schools across Gaza for a period of 14 days.

Beginning on March 19 and until further notice, reports indicate the Government of Egypt suspended all international and domestic flights.  There is a quarantine point in Gaza near the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

Actions to Take: