1Do I need a seperate visa to come into Palestine from Israel?

The visa you receive upon entrance into Israel is all you need for your travels through Israel and Palestine.  No other papers or visa are necessary for international travelers.

Make sure to keep your passport on hand when traveling as you will be passing back and forth through checkpoints between Israel and Palestine and within Palestine itself.  There are some checkpoints where travelers with a visitor visa are unable to pass through going back into Israel (such as the Beit Jala, DCO checkpoint), but a majority of the time with your passport in hand you will have no problems. 

2Is it safe?

Yes, travel in Palestine is safe. Hospitality is an extremely important value in Palestine, as it is throughout the Mediterranean world. Palestinians welcome visitors with open arms. While it cannot be denied that dangerous situations can arise due to the Israeli Occupation, the risk to international tourists is minimal.

Arab people in general, and Palestinians in particular, have been demonized in the West for decades. They are often presented in the media as dangerous, conniving, and immoral. It is not uncommon for visitors to Palestine to experience a mix of emotions -- bewilderment, confusion, delight, embarrassment, and anger -- when they realize how false those demonized images really are.

Negative stereotypes of Palestinians have been purposely reinforced by the Israeli government, which discourages international visitors to have contact with Palestinians.  Israel knows that exposure to the present and historical realities of the situation has a transformative effect on the majority of tourists to Palestine, who return to their home countries as opposers to Israel's oppressive policies against Palestinians. The famous Israeli general and politician Moshe Dayan was even quoted as saying that he would license a Palestinian to fly a jet fighter before he would license a Palestinian to be a tour guide. As such, Palestinians were prohibited from working as tour guides in the West Bank and Gaza until the 1990s.

We encourage international visitors to suspend any preconceived notions they have about Palestinians until they have the chance to meet us face to face.

3How difficult is it to travel in the occupied Palestinian Territories?

Currently, travel for tourists in the West Bank is relatively easy, though the situation varies from area to area. For example, travel into northern cities such as Jenin and Nablus can be quite difficult on some days. There are literally hundreds of checkpoints within the West Bank, and it is difficult to predict delays. This means that itineraries must be kept somewhat flexible. 

We are well aware that tourists who book tours with Israeli tours have an "easier" trip. They can count on staying on schedule because they are permitted to travel on the "by-pass" roads that Palestinians -- including Palestinian tour guides and drivers -- are forbidden to use. At the same time, we ask visitors to the West Bank to consider that only by experiencing some of its harsher realities (such as movement restrictions) can they truly understand the reality of life under Israeli military occupation.

As of December 2008, Gaza has been extremely difficult to enter, with access restricted only to a limited number of humanitarian aid workers. Until further notice, we are unable to take tourists to Gaza.

4What should Jewish travelers know about traveling in Palestine?

ATG welcomes people of all faiths and identities to join us on our tours.

Many Jews are scared of traveling to Palestine, largely as a result of false stereotypes that paint Palestinians a violently anti-Jewish. Palestinians, however, live in a highly-educated and intellectual society and are perfectly capable of understanding that Judaism and Zionism are not interchangable. Most Palestinians make it clear that their problems are with supporters of the occupation, and not with all Jews or Judaism.

Having said that, there are certain realities of which Jewish visitors must be aware. The Zionist movement turned the Star of David from a religious symbol into a nationalist symbol by putting it on the flag of Israel and on most Israeli military equipment. In other words, the army that has committed numerous war crimes against the Palestinian population since 1948 has always used the Star of David as its symbol. The Star is even used by Israeli settlers to aggressively mark territory they intend to steal from Palestinians. In Hebron, for example, settlers paint the star on the doors of Palestinian homes and shops, typically next to racist anti-Arab graffiti. One such piece of graffiti, a picture of which appeared in the Jerusalem Post, reads Gas the Arabs. Tragically, many Palestinians have never encountered a Jew without a military uniform on and an assault rifle in his hands.

For these reasons, Jewish travelers wearing Star of David jewelry, the kippa, or loudly referring to themselves as Jews may be misunderstood to be Israelis and supporters of the occupation. This is not to say that Israelis are necessarily in danger in Palestine: many Israeli activists work side by side with Palestinians. However, Israelis can be a target of Palestinian militant groups.

Jewish travelers are encouraged to keep all of these details in mind, and to be selective in whom they tell about their heritage. It is our hope that, as more Jews who oppose Israeli policies visit Palestine and make their positions known to Palestinians, this selectiveness will be less necessary.