Practical Information on Palestine

Money
The currency in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is the “Shekel” or “New Israeli Shekel” (NIS), since the Shekel replaced the “Israeli pound” or “lira” in 1980. The Shekel is not the only acceptable currency: dollars are also accepted, especially for large amounts. Prices are often quoted in dollars, especially in hotels, car rental companies and Israeli rents. The Euro is likewise accepted everywhere.
In the West Bank, in East Jerusalem and in the Gaza Strip, the Jordanian dinar (JD) is also often used to make large payments such as rent. In fact, rent is often listed in dollars or Jordanian dinars. Palestinian Authority employees are paid in JD. In the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian pound is also accepted.


Exchange Bureaux
Avoid changing money at borders, the airport and even banks, for the simple reason that the rates in such places are not the best, and you will usually be asked to pay a commission. On the other hand, all main cities have money-changers with better rates and more flexible hours than the banks; they are often open until 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm.


Banks
In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, banks have automatic cash dispensers (ATMs), but not all accept internationally recognised cards (Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard, etc.). However, banks in all large cities generally have ATMs for international cards. If you wish to make a banking transaction, take careful note of the opening hours, which are generally 8:30 am - 12:30 pm.

Service Taxis
These taxis are only a bit more expensive than public buses, rapid and practical - you can take one at the beginning of its run or anywhere along the line, getting out wherever you want. The advantage of service taxis is their frequency: when departing, you only wait until one fills, unless you pay the driver for any empty seats and leave immediately. Palestinian taxis in the West Bank and Gaza are chrome-yellow (seven-seater Mercedes or nine-seater Ford Transit). In East Jerusalem, most white Ford Transit service taxis are recycled Israeli police vans!

Buses

Palestinian bus companies.
In East Jerusalem, there are buses in the various Palestinian neighbourhoods and their vicinity (Abu Dis, Bethlehem and Ramallah). Small Palestinian buses have only operated in East Jerusalem since the state of siege imposed on the West Bank at the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada.
In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, some buses run between the main urban centres or between checkpoints. They are cheaper than service taxis but not as fast, especially when stopped at “flying checkpoints” when all IDs are slowly checked by soldiers or Border Police.

Israeli bus companies
In West Jerusalem, Israeli buses (Egged is the main Israeli bus company, www.egged.co.il) connect the different neighbourhoods and connect the city with the many Jewish settlements in the territories occupied in 1967 and such sites as Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem or the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Egged buses also regularly link all the cities, including all the main settlements and those bus journeys are much cheaper than other such distances, since the transport is subsidised. Each city also has a very dense internal bus network.
Private Taxis
Always ask a private taxi how much the trip will cost before getting in! In Palestinian cities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, taxis do not have a meter, but in Israel it is illegal for a taxi driver not to put his meter on at the start of each journey (unless you personally ask him for a specific price).
The fare depends on the destination. Not every taxi driver is out to cheat – far from it - but caution is recommended in the tourist cities (Bethlehem and Jerusalem). So, in East Jerusalem and the State of Israel, ask the driver to start the meter. Rates go up at night (between 21:00-05:30) and on the Sabbath, from Friday evening until Sunday morning.

Renting a Car
Hiring a car is simple; you must have a driving licence (one issued by your country is sufficient) and make a deposit of €1000 which you can pay with a cheque or banking credit card. You must be over 21, sometimes over 23. If you rent a car from an Israeli company, the insurance may be invalid in the West Bank, where there will be no accident coverage. Bearing this in mind, you may prefer to hire a vehicle in East Jerusalem; you will be free to drive to Haifa as well as Bethlehem.
To drive in the Gaza Strip (if you can get a permit to enter it!), you must rent a car there.  Rates are lower than other parts of Palestine, but the distances are obviously also shorter.

If you plan on driving long distances in the summer, especially in the Negev, ask for a car with air conditioning. Only the more expensive cars have air conditioning, and the rental fee will be proportionately higher. Similarly, there are car hire firms that will take delivery of a returned car at the airport, which may be most convenient, whereas others must be returned in a city centre.

Location

Palestine occupies a strip of land on the western edge of the Asian continent, between the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, and extends down to the Gulf of Aqaba. Palestinians consider the entire country as Palestine, although in negotiations with Israel they have been willing to consider the Occupied Territories (the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza) as the site of their independent state – even though it occupies only 22% of historic Palestine.

The land area of the entire country of historic Palestine is 26,323 km2 (10,162 miles2). The Occupied Territories comprise 6,170 kms (5,800 kms of the West Bank, which is 130 kms long and 40-60 kms wide), and 365 kms of Gaza, which is only 45 kms long and 5-12 kms wide – of which some 25% is still completely controlled and occupied by Israel, even though Gaza was (theoretically) “disengaged” by Israel in 2005).

Areas A, B and C

Since the Oslo agreements of 1993, the West Bank was divided into three different areas:

          1. Area A: under the control of the Palestinian Authority (“PA”)
          2. Area B: under Israeli security and PA administrative control
          3. Area C: under Israeli military control (the “Civil Administration” administers all affairs governing Palestinians living in Area C).

POPULATION
Estimated Number of Palestinians in the World by Country of Residence,
End Year 2010

Number

Percent

Country

4,108,631

37.5

Palestinian Territory

1,360,214

12.4

Israel

4,876,489

44.4

Arab Countries

626,824

5.7

Foreign Countries

10,972,158

100

Total

 

Worldwide, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics 2010 census, as above, the Palestinian people consist of over 10 million people, including 4.1 million in the Occupied Palestinian territories. Some 2.7 million live in the West Bank (including the 300,000 residents of East Jerusalem), 1.6 million live in Gaza and about 1 million in Israel. The Palestinian Diaspora numbers about 5 million, of which over 4 million are refugees, a third of them residing in refugee camps.
The Palestinians are the largest and most long-lived refugee group in the world, and the only one which does not come under the protection and care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, being administered instead by UNRWA, the United Nations  Refugees & Works Agency.

CLIMATE
There are four seasons in Palestine. Winter is mildly cold and rainy (although it can snow in the higher land, including Jerusalem and Ramallah) while summer is usually hot and dry, with no rain falling at all from about mid-April to mid-October). Autumn is pleasant and spring, after the winter rains, is beautiful, with a wide array of wild flowers and blooming trees; both autumn and spring, however, are usually very short-lived.  Average temperatures in Palestine range from 9o-18o C in winter and 26o-30o C in summer. Regardless of the season, visitors are advised to wear modest dress, especially when visiting holy sites.  The evenings in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, can be cool and refreshing in the summer months, so it is advisable to have additional wear for then.

Visas and passports

Citizens of the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada and South Africa need a passport valid for at least 6 months from the entry date. Citizens of EU countries and Switzerland do not generally require a visa in advance, but check this rule remains in force. Visitors must hold onward or return tickets and sufficient funds to cover their intended period of stay. Upon arrival, visitors receive an entry card to fill in and hand over with their passport. Half of it is returned and must be presented on leaving the country. Keep it! No visa is required unless a stay longer than 3 months is planned. In this case, you need to ask for a visa for the desired length of time at the Israeli consulate in your country or request an extension or other appropriate visa in one of the offices of the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, which can be found in most major towns and cities. You must ask for the extension in the town in which you are staying. At this time, you need to establish that you have sufficient funds for the requested period.

Formalities on arrival and departure

On departure, you may be closely questioned by one or more security personnel, who will ask in detail about your stay in Israel - why you came, what you did, where you have been, with whom you have spent time. For this, obey a golden rule: stay calm. Answer the questions calmly, as briefly as possible, without answering more than you were asked. Many travellers who have spent the better part of their time in the Occupied Territories or with Palestinian Israelis inside Israel are apprehensive about this moment, but there is no need; simply say where you were without going into details. If you have been to Gaza (although these days this is highly unlikely as even journalists and aid workers often have difficulty obtaining entry permits for Gaza, since its total blockade in 2005), you may prefer to remove the paper indicating this visit from your passport before you arrive at the airport. The Israelis are justified in their security awareness, but then tend to view ordinary visitors as security threats, which can be off-putting. After being questioned, you are usually asked to have your baggage carefully inspected. Absolutely everything is usually subjected to close examination if you have been in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Electrical appliances, cameras and video cameras may be taken to a separate room to be examined. After reclaiming your luggage after it has been inspected, you will take it to the check-in and proceed to the departure area, possibly accompanied by security personnel. Remember to ask the airport customs officer not to stamp your passport, but rather the optional paper put there for that purpose, if you do not want a trace of your visit in your passport. In the departure hall you will find the Duty Free zone.

Borders

The Jordanian border
There are three crossing points between Jordan and Israel: Allenby Bridge or King Hussein Bridge, (Palestinian territories, occupied in 1967); Sheikh Hussein Bridge or Beit She’an, further north, and Aqaba or Arava, to the south, next to Eilat.

Coming from Jordan
Allenby Bridge is the only point at which West Bank Palestinians may enter Israel. East Jerusalem Palestinians, any Israeli citizen (Palestinian or Jewish) and foreigners may enter at the three border posts, all under Israeli jurisdiction, although there is resistance to allowing Israelis to use the Allenby Bridge, which is otherwise the most frequented. After the customary search and questioning, it is easy to get a service taxi to East Jerusalem, Bethlehem (via Abu Dis) or Ramallah. The fare is about NIS40. Although in 1988 the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan renounced its sovereignty over the West Bank and East Jerusalem (the Palestinian territories it had annexed in 1949), you can enter Palestine by the Allenby Bridge without officially leaving Jordan. This means that you can go back over the bridge to Jordan without asking for a new entry visa for Jordan. To put it simply, your Jordanian entry visa is still valid even after a stay in Palestine - but only if you have already used the bridge to enter Palestine. From the Sheikh Hussein Bridge (Beit She’an) or Aqaba (Aravain Hebrew), where traffic is quite light, you will probably have to take a private taxi to the nearest bus station or bus stop: in the north, to Beit She’anand in the south, to Eilat.
Going to Jordan
The Kingdom of Jordan recognises the State of Israel on the basis of the borders defined by the Armistice Treaty in 1949, but regards the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as illegal. Consequently, foreigners have to request a visa at the Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv (14 Abba Hillel Silver Street, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv: 03-751 7722), the Representative Office in Ramallah (Al-Masyoun, behind Grand Park Hotel, Ramallah: 02-297 4625/6) or the Consulate in Gaza (An-Naser Street: 08-282-5134/104) in order to cross the Allenby Bridge, or you may obtain the visa directly from passport control at Sheikh Hussein or Eilat. Fees at the three passport controls can differ slightly, as does the cost of transport. The fee for visas generally depends on the passport held: prices are fixed according to the cost of a visa in those countries as charged to entering Jordanians. They can be quite expensive.

Allenby Bridge (near Jericho)
Going to Jordan: One must have a Jordanian visa to cross the Allenby Bridge to Jordan. If you already entered Palestine from Jordan over the Allenby Bridge, your Jordanian visa is still valid and will permit you to return to Jordan across the bridge. As stated above, Jordanian visas can be relatively expensive.  Israelis are supposed to travel to Jordan through the Sheikh Hussein Bridge (near Beit She’an), but if travelling to Jordan via Allenby Bridge (King Hussein) on an Israeli passport (but not on a 2nd foreign one), be sure to check with the Israeli Ministry of Interior, which has been known to require a letter to be issued, authorising use of that exit, over and above the “exit permit” issued by the authorities on the border.
Going to the Occupied Palestinian Territories: the Israeli authorities will issue a visa on the spot.
_ Sheikh Hussein Bridge (near Bissan ­ Beit She’an)
Going to Jordan: the Jordanian border authorities issue visas on the spot.
Going to Israel: Israeli officials issue visas on the spot.
_ Aqaba (near Eilat - Aravain Hebrew)
Going to Jordan: visas are issued on the spot by passport control (immigration authorities).
Going to the State of Israel: visas are issued on the spot by the immigration authorities.

Checkpoints

In a calm context, Palestine is not a dangerous area to travel around. You should, however, contact your embassy to keep up to date about the situation in the region. Crossing a checkpoint can be quite impressive but you must not forget that this is part of Palestinian's daily life. So here are a few tips to cross a checkpoint serenely:

  • By bus: At important checkpoints like Qalandya you may have to get off the bus to cross the checkpoint on foot and take another one on the other side, although recently it has become increasingly possible to travel into Ramallah across Qalandya by bus without having to get off, although on the return journey (Ramallah-Jerusalem), it is necessary to get off the bus and walk through the checkpoint (unless over the age of 60). Generally, soldiers enter the bus to check the passports while crossing checkpoints on the road that do not have huge pedestrian terminals such as at Qalandya, Shuafat/Anata, or Bethlehem.
  • On foot: At Qalandya, Shuafat/Anata and Bethlehem checkpoints you can also walk through the checkpoint after passing through a security gate and metal detectors (like in airports), and having shown your passport to the soldiers.
  • By car: At Qalandya, Hizme, Bethlehem as well as Bissan checkpoints you have to slow down or stop in order to show your passport to soldiers. They may also open your car trunk.
  • Avoid Qalandya checkpoint (between Jerusalem and Ramallah) during rush hours, that is to say before 8:00 or it would take you maybe an hour instead of a few minutes to cross it.  Thursday afternoons and Sunday mornings are also extremely over-crowded times due to the numbers of workers, students or  others returning home or returning to work or study.

Table of Distance


Distances  (km)

Bethlehem

Nablus

Hebron

Jericho

Jerusalem

Gaza

Tel-Aviv

Ramallah

Bethlehem

0

72

26

43

10

86

73

23

Nablus

72

0

90

78

63

134

57

50

Hebron

26

99

0

67

37

94

100

55

Jericho

43

78

67

0

36

136

98

30

Jerusalem

10

63

37

36

0

92

63

15

Gaza

86

134

94

136

92

0

82

85

Tel-Aviv

73

57

100

98

63

82

0

75

Ramallah

23

50

55

30

15

85

75

0

Palestine has a developing economy in tourism and agriculture, and these constitute the country’s main economic income – although economic development is  generally impossible under conditions of occupation. Since 1967, Israeli policies have intentionally prevented the development of an independent Palestinian economy, turning the Palestinian workforce from one of independent farmers, craftspeople and business people (especially in the area of tourism) into casual cheap labour in the Israeli economy. With the establishment of the PA, numerous development projects have been initiated, many with international assistance; their gains have been nullified, however, by occupation policies, and especially with the imposition of a permanent economic “closure” in 1993 and the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure following the September 2000 Intifada, and various other “operations” such as “Operation Defensive Shield” and “Operation Cast Lead.”
With seven agro-climatic zones and with at least 20 different soils, nearly 60 agricultural crops are grown in Palestine. Industry and trade are still small-scale, largely due to Israeli restrictions.Tourism remains the best prospect for future Palestinian development.

Handicrafts
Cross-stitch embroidery is an ancient craft in Palestine. Using natural homemade materials, women artistically embroider dresses, jackets, vests, cushions, tablecloths, and other items. Jerusalem pottery is another craft in Palestine, with an especial input by Armenian potters. Religious ornaments, hand-made from olive wood and mother-of-pearl with a painstaking attention to detail, are especially attractive. Palestine's world- renowned olive wood artefacts are made from local olive trees. Olive trees in Palestine are not only found in abundance but some date back to the times of Jesus or older (for example, in Walajeh village near Jerusalem, there is a 5,000 year old olive tree, which is cared for by a farmer whose full-time job this is. Tragically, the Wall is being built on its roots, so the villagers are anxious that it will either die or be stunted in its growth). Exquisite olive wood statues, boxes, crosses, and other artefacts can be found at the numerous souvenir shops in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Hand-blown Glass ware and pottery
Hebron is well-known for these glass and ceramics workshops. They use a mode of fabrication developed by Syrians in the 1st century AD, after they had invented the blow stick.  The stained glass is fabricated into crystal wine glasses, while champagne glasses are also highly popular.

Ceramic
Ceramic ware decorated with geometric patterns. Most of the plates are decorated with blue glazes and designs using flowers reveals their origin in come from Hebron.

Olive wood
Palestine's world-renowned olive wood artefacts are made from the local olive trees. Olive trees in Palestine are not only found in abundance but some date back to the times of Jesus. Exquisite olive wood statues, boxes, crosses, and other artefacts can be found at the numerous souvenir shops in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Soap of Nablus
Made with olive oil, this soap is appreciated all over the Middle East. The Crusaders would have brought back this method of fabrication to Marseilles in France, where today there is an olive oil soap industry.

Keffiyeh
Palestinians wear keffiyehs with black and white squares, whereas the red and white square keffiyeh is for Bedouins. The only workshop producing keffiyehs in Palestine is located in Hebron, and its production is increasingly creative.

WORKING HOURS
Government offices are open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Banks are open from 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., with some banks re-opening again from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Most shops open around 8:00 a.m. and do not close until 7:00 p.m. The official weekend is Friday-Saturday.
SHOPPING
Shopping in Palestine is a colourful experience, with customers and merchants often haggling over prices. The country’s main streets and old markets are filled with shops selling local and imported items. Especially appealing to tourists are numerous shops selling exotic hand-made items, aromatic Middle Eastern spices, jewellery, tasty oriental sweets, eastern silks, leather goods, and much more.

Standard shopping hours are Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Muslim-owned shops usually close on Friday, while Christian-owned businesses, concentrated in Jerusalem’s Old City and the Bethlehem area, are closed on Sunday. As for Muslim areas such as East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and West Bank towns, they remain open on Saturday but are generally closed all day Friday. On Friday nights/Saturday (Shabbat), Israeli shops and offices are closed, though some restaurants and places of entertainment are open either all day, or on Saturday evening (when Israeli bus service resumes, as does the Light Rail in Jerusalem).

Telephone
Calls inside Israel or Palestine (same procedure for both the Palestinian territories and the State of Israel): dial the area code for the city you are calling (for example, «02» for Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Ramallah).
Local Calls (in the same town or telephone area): dial the number you are calling without the area code. For example, when you make a call to Bethlehem from Jerusalem, do not dial «02».
Calling Palestine from abroad: Dial +972, followed by the area code (without the «0»used only for calls inside), then the number you are calling, which should have 7 digits.– [From the U.S., dial «01 972», + the area code (omitting the«0», which is only used for inter-city calls inside Israel or Palestine), then the number you are calling, which should have 7 digits.] – Note: for West Bank and Gaza Strip,«972» can also be «970» (both function).
Calls to Other Countries
– From places in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, dial 00 (the international call number), then the number for the country you are calling (for example, «1» for Canada and the U.S.), then the area code followed by the number you are calling.
– From East Jerusalem or places in the State of Israel, dial 012, 013 or 014, depending on which phone company’s rates you prefer, so you will often see that choice reflected as “+” – i.e. as above +972.
Mobile Telephones
– To call a mobile phone from a standard phone or other mobile phone inside Israel or Palestine, dial the 4-digit code of the phone company being used by the person you are calling and then the number you are calling, which will have 6 digits. For example, dial 0599 and the 6-digit number. – To call a mobile inside Israel or Palestine from another country, dial the company code without the first «0».For example: 00-972-599+6 digits.

Postal Services
In 1995, the autonomous Palestinian cities established their own postal service: mail and stamps. Thus, you can send mail from all the urban centres in the West Bank and Gaza. In East Jerusalem, the postal system is Israeli. Telegrams, faxes and international calls are all handled at the post office.  Take care: hours may fluctuate for Jewish holy days or general holiday periods (e.g. August, when post offices, especially branch offices, may close at 3:00 p.m.)
In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, post offices are open from 8:00-14:00 and are closed on Friday. The main Israeli post offices are open from 8:00-18:00 and closed on Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. Branch post offices open from 8:00-14:00.

Domestic Codes


City

Code

City

Code

Afula

06

Hebron

02

Acre

04

Jaffa

03

Ashdod

08

Jenin

06

Askelan

07

Jericho

02

Bethlehem

02

Jerusalem

02

Bir Saba

07

Lod

08

Bisan

06

Nablus

09

Eilat

07

Nazareth

06

Gaza

07

Ramallah

02

Golan

06

Tiberias

06

Haifa

04

Tulkarm

09

Important phone numbers


Name

Number

Police

100

Ambulance

101

Fire Depatrement

102

Information

144

Local Collect Call

142

Phone Repairs

166

Time

1455

Allenby Bridge

02-5482600

Sheikh Hussein

04-6093410

Ben Gurion Airport

03-9723344

Health
No vaccinations are needed. However, sunstroke or sunburn are risks if you are exposed to the sun for long periods, for example along the Dead Sea. It is important to remember to drink water (or other liquids, such as fruit juice or soft drinks) in summer. For hikes, plan on taking several litres per person. You may find this weighs you down when you start off, but you will be grateful for it later on. If your head develops a feeling of heaviness, it is because you have not drunk enough. Drink, and your headaches will quickly disappear. Avoid long walks under the sun at midday, and cover your head.  Travelling means a change in diet, and a classic case of “travel bug” (diarrhoea) is a common problem many anticipate. In Palestine, the Mediterranean diet, with rice as an important staple food, minimises this risk. Simply wash vegetables and fruit well, as you usually do, before cooking or eating raw; do not develop a psychosis about them.
The water is safe to drink in most places. However, where there are severe water shortages (villages, refugee camps and even some of the cities, when Israel limits or restricts the supply of water), the quality is not good. In the Gaza Strip, the water is sometimes unfit for consumption. In this case, do not hesitate to buy mineral water. The Palestinian “Jericho” bottled mineral water is excellent.


General advice

Vaccination
No vaccinations are needed.

Sun
Sunstroke or sunburn are risks if you are exposed to the sun for long periods, for example along the Dead Sea. It is important to remember to drink water (or other liquids, such as fruit juice or soft drinks) in summer. For hikes, plan on taking several litters per person. You may find this weighs you down when you start off, but you will be grateful for it later on.

If your head develops a feeling of heaviness, it is because you have not drunk enough. Drink, and your headaches will quickly disappear. Avoid long walks under the sun at midday, and cover your head. 

Water
The water is safe to drink in most places. However, where there are severe water shortages (villages, refugee camps), the quality is not good. In the Gaza Strip, the water is sometimes unfit for consumption. In this case, do not hesitate to buy mineral water. The Palestinian “Jericho” bottled mineral water is excellent.

Food
Travelling means a change in diet, and a classic case of “travel bug” (diarrhoea) is a common problem many anticipate. In Palestine, the Mediterranean diet, with rice as an important staple food, minimizes this risk. Simply wash vegetables and fruit well, as you usually do, before cooking or eating raw; do not develop a psychosis about them.

Medical Services
If you are ill, you will find pharmacies open late into the evening, where you may buy over the counter from pharmacists. If you want to see a doctor, ask at your hotel. Most doctors (either “doctor” or “tabib” in Arabic) speak English. In an emergency, dial 101 (the ambulance service).

Accommodation
There are numerous possibilities for accommodation, in all price ranges: Bed & Breakfast, guesthouses, Christian hospices and all categories of hotels. There isno official star system classifying lodgings, so a good indication of thequality offered is the price, although this is not always a guarantee. In general,most of the hotels lack imaginative decor and share a certain banality in furnishings: exceptions are to be found, such as the exquisite Jacir Palace (Intercontinental) Hotel in Bethlehem, or the American Colony Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem.

Tipping
In most Palestinian restaurants and cafés, service is included. A tip is not necessary, but you may leave something extra as thanks for special attention or a special favour. As a reminder: do not forget the guide!

Time Differences
Local time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2), seven hours ahead of American Eastern Standard Time and eight hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time. There is often a period of a week in autumn and spring when there is a difference of an hour between Israel and the Palestinian territories, as both countries do not co-ordinate their daylight savings time (the “summer clock”).

LOCAL CUISINE
Palestinian cuisine is very popular among visitors. Meals often include an appetizing assortment of hors d’oeuvres, known as mezze. Humus (chickpeas) and baba ghanoug (eggplant), widely known in Europe and the United States, are made to perfection in Palestine. Main courses include meat (though not pork), poultry, seafood, and vegetable dishes. Beverages include locally-made wines (Cremisan is produced in the Bethlehem area), Arak is a popular alcohol and is also produced in Bethlehem. “Taibeh” beer, produced in Taibeh village near Ramallah, is among the best in the Middle East. Palestine is also renowned for its succulent sweet pastries such as knafe (the best is said to be from Nablus) and baklawa.

Appetizers (mezzes)
Felafel: Small fried balls of ground chick peas and parsley, often served in a sandwich with mixed salads.
Foul: Mashed beans served with lemon, garlic and olive oil.
Hummus: Ground chick peas mixed with sesame cream (tahina), lemon and garlic.
Kebab: Skewers of ground, grilled meat, usually served with grilled onions and tomatoes.
Kubbeh: A mixture of meat and chopped onions coated with cracked wheat batter, then fried. Served with lemon.
Labaneh: Soft white cheese, sprinkled with olive oil.
Mutabbal: (Known by its Turkish name: Baba Ghanoug): pureed, grilled eggplant, mixed with lemon, garlic and olive oil.
Sambusek: Baked dough, stuffed with spinach, or cheese, or meat.
Sfiha: A type of pizza covered with a thin layer of ground meat, tomato, green pepper, onion and parsley. Originally an Armenian dish.
Shawarma: Sandwich of roasted, thinly-sliced meat (lamb, beef or turkey).
Tabbouleh: Cracked-wheat (bourghoul) salad, mixed with finely chopped parsley, mint, cucumber, tomato, lemon juice and olive oil.

Main dishes
Kedra: Rice with saffron and pieces of lamb traditionally cooked over steam in a pottery jar (a kedreh); a speciality of Hebron.
Kussa Mahshi: Zucchini stuffed with rice and meat.
Makluba: (“Upside-down”): Layers of rice or potato, broiled meat, and vegetables (fried cauliflower, eggplant, and potato).
Mashawi: Grilled meat served with various salads.
Mansaf: “Shrak” bread covered with rice and pieces of broiled lamb, served with cheese soup and grilled pine nuts. Originally a Bedouin dish, it is these days served in all places, particularly grand occasions such as marriages or births.
Musakhan: Roast chicken served on taboun bread and covered with olive oil, thin-sliced onion, and sumac, a slightly acid soft spice.
Mulukhiya: Boiled leaves of mulukhiya (a sort of spinach).
Waraq Dawali: Stuffed vine leaves.
Waraq Malfouf: Stuffed cabbage leaves.

Desserts and Pastries (halawiyat)
Baklawa: Thin leaves of dough layered on each other, filled with ground pistachios and covered with honey or syrup.
Knafeh: White cheese baked in a delicately poached orange-coloured layer of pasta, covered with syrup; a speciality of Nablus.
Ma’amoul: Cake stuffed with dates, walnuts or white cheese. It is usually prepared in both Muslim and Christian religious feasts.
Qatayef: A sort of pancake, stuffed with baked cheese, or a combination of walnuts, coconut and cinnamon, then baked in an oven and glazed with syrup; a speciality at Ramadan. In Nablus, it is available throughout the year.

Drinks
Arak: Aniseed-flavoured alcoholic drink, similar to Greek ouzo or French anis. Local variations produced in the Ramallah and Bethlehem regions.
Assir burtukal: Orange juice.
Assir kharroub: Carob juice.
Assir loz: Almond juice.
Assir sous: Liquorice juice.
Assir taza: Fresh fruit juice.
Taybeh beer: Beer from Taybeh. [See p. 238.] Shai: Tea.
Qahwa: Arab coffee (Turkish or Greek). Usually, a few cardamom seeds are mixed with the coffee, which is prepared in water brought just lightly to boiling point.
Nabid: Wine (made by the monks at monasteries in Cremisan and Latrun).
Tamer hindi juice: Tamarisk juice, from the fruit of the tamarind tree.

English Term

Arabic

Response

Hello or Peace be with you :

As-Salam 'alekoum

Wa 'aleykoum as-Salam

Morning greeting :

Sabah al-Khair

Sabah-al-Nour

Good evening

Massa' al-Khair

Massa' al-Nour

Hello (informal):

Marhaba

Marhabten

How are you (familiar form)

For a man: Keef halak?
For a woman: Keef halek?

Al-Hamdulillah

Welcome!

Ahlan wa sahlan

 

Goodbye or Go in Peace:

Ma'assalamah

 

Good night:

Leila Saida

 

What's your name (familiar form)?

For a man:Esh (or Chou) esmak?
For a woman:Esh (or
Chou) esmek?

My name is … and you?
Esmi (…), wa enta (for a
man)? wa enti (for a
woman)?

Thank you:

Shukran

Afwan

Please:

To a man: Min fadlak,
To a woman: Min fadlek

 

Yes:

Na'am or Aywa

 

No:

La'

 

Congratulations:

Mabrouk

 

Where are you from ?

Min wein enta (for a man)?
Min wein enti (for a woman)?

I'm from ( ) Canada, England, United States, Australia
Jerusalem, Palestine, Hebron
Ana min (…) Canada,
Britanya, al-wilayat al-Muttaheda al-Amrikiya, Australia … al-Quds, Falastine, al-Khalil

Where are the taxis for Nablus?

Wein al-taxiat ila Nablus?

 

Where is the hotel (…) ?

Wein al-funduk (…)?

 

Here:

hon

 

There

honak

 

On the right

Al-yamin

 

On the left

Ashmal

 

Straight ahead

dughri or alatoul

 

Omar al-Mukhtar Street:

share' Omar al-Mukhtar

 

 

Numbers

Number

Arabic

1

Wahad

2

Etnen

3

Talata

4

Arba'a

5

Khamsa

6

Sitta

7

Sab'a

8

Tamanya

9

Tis'a

10

'Ashara

11

Ihda'sh

12

Itna'sh

13

Talatta'sh

20

'Ishreen

21

Wahad wa 'ishreen

22

Etnen wa 'ishreen

30

Talateen

31

Wahad wa talateen

40

Arba'een

50

Khamseen

100

Miyya

200

Miteyn

300

Talatmiyya

400

Arba'miyya

1000

Alf

2000

Alfeyn

3000

Talat-talaf

10 000

'Ashar-talaf

 

General Vocabulary


Term

Translation

Airport

Matar

Bank

Bank

Bus station

Mahatat al-basat

Car

Sayara

Church

Kaneesah

Consulate

Consuliya

Delicious

Zaki

Hotel

Otel / Funduk

House

Beit / Dar

How much does it cost?

(Q)addeish es-se'er

I want

Biddi

Market

Souk

Mosque

Jame'/Masjid

Museum

Mathaf

Passport

Passport /Jawaz safar

Please!

Itfaddal/law samahet

Police

Police / Shurta

Post office

Barid / Bosta

Private taxi

Taxi khususi

Restaurant

Mat'am

Service taxi

Taxi umumi/ Servis

Ticket

Tazkara

Toilet

Hammam

 

Food

English

Arabic

Almond

Loz

Apple

Tuffah

Apricot

Mishmish

Banana

Mouz

Bread

Khubiz

Breakfast

Iftour

Carrot

Jazzar

Cheese

Jibna

Chicken

Djaj

Meat

Lahma

Coffee

Kahwa

Tea

Shai

Fish

Samak

French fried potatoes

Batata

Fruit juice

Asir fawakih

Ice cream

Buza

Lamb (meat)

Lahem kharouf

Lemon

Lamone

Olive

Zeitoun

Olive oil

Zeit zeitoun

Orange (fruit)

Burtukal

Salad

Salata

Water

Maye

Palestine is a safe country, crime rate is very minimal, and harassment is rare. People are very friendly, and are usually excited when foreigners are around. Do not mistake the hospitality and friendliness with aggression and harassment!

There are no risks for solo travellers, and also for women.  There is no risks for women to walk alone in the large cities of Palestine. However, they must dress decently and cover their legs and shoulders especially in conservative cities like Nablus or Hebron, and when entering a religious site, Christian, or Muslim.  Tank tops, cleavage and shorts are not appropriate. Always have a veil with you to cover your head and shoulders if, for instance, you want to visit a mosque.