This article shall not reflect any political view but rather be a view behind the media and showing the side of the people and culture there. In terms of the country, I will refer to Israel but meaning the whole region which also includes Palestine.
Israel itself is an amazing country with a beautiful landscape and lovely people. It is a region which displays an incredible mix of Arab and European culture I’ve never seen any elsewhere in this world. Next to this mix, you notice that there are a lot of people from Sudan/Eritrea/Ethiopia and also Russia. And not seldomly, you will also see Arabs in Tel Aviv. Due to this mixture, a lot of things are written in English/Arabic/Hebrew. And it seems everybody knows Hebrew.
Traveling in the country is safe and in terms of traveling to the surrounding countries, there are even options to go to Jordan by bus which are perceived as quite convenient. I do not know of other opportunities to visit the neighbour countries except by plane. Regarding traveling within the country, it is most convenient by bus or train. Yet, on Shabbat (Saturday), most of the public transport will not be working or starts working in the late afternoon except you are in Haifa.
Entering Israel in Tel Aviv at the airport is no big issue. They usually do not stamp the passport anymore but turned to giving a little paper visa. You will get a few questions but that’s it normally. What really gets an issue is leaving the country. That is what happened to me:
Coming by train from Jerusalem to the airport in Tel Aviv, I queued as usual. Though the queue start beforebthe check-in counter as they already check you through before you even can go for getting your boarding pass. One of the security officers came to me. Took my passport and asked me a few questions. From why are you here to whats the name of your friends. He left. With my passport. I went a bit asides and another person behind me was already finished. A woman came with my passport. Asked me again some questions. This time about Oman. Why I was there. When. How long. Where did I stay? What’s the name of the people I was with. What am I doing for a living. How I got to know all those people. She left. With my passport. A few minutes later she came back with another guy. Same questions again. And why I travel. Why did I go to Malaysia. Why to Indonesia? And why Tunisia. Answering that Tunisia was for graduation trip sounded really strange for them. They exchanged a few words in Hebrew. the guy would have been a dream for everybody interested in body language. His hands and face speaking 1000 words. More questions came. They left. Of course, with my passport. This time they were hectic talking with 2 other guys. Showing in pages of my passport. The woman and the man came back. Why was I in Morocco? With who? From where do I know this person? Am I in contact with any locals? Same questions for Tunisia, Dubai and Bahrain. I denied. And I admit, it was one of the hardest things I ever did. But after 30minutes of questions and 5 security people observing you, you might think twice of what you say. One of the last questions was, “did you pack your suitcase alone?” – “yes” – “I’m just asking cause it could be that someone put a bomb in your suitcase.” mhm…a bomb. Belief in human goodwill? Disappeared. Gone. I went on. Now my suitcase and bag went through an x-ray scan. My laptop taken out, opened in a 90°C angle and put in a bag that looked like a bigger pizza warm-keeping bag. And as all that was done, I was allowed to proceed. No, not to the check-in. Now to the inspection of my luggage. Everything out, under xray, sometimes twice. And everything in again. After the inspection of my passport and luggage, my body followed. A woman asked me to come with her. Jacket off. Scalf of. Shoes off. And I got twice scanned all over the body with those black stick things. But this were 2 different ones. The button region of my trouser kept making noise. The woman disappeared. With the clothes I took off before. After a while, she got back with another woman she introduced as her supervisor. I had to take partly off my trousers. After that, I was finally allowed to head know to the check-in. The woman accompanied me. She told me she’s gonna go with me to the 2nd check-in so that I dont have to go again eventually through all this. And, for the first time in my life, I smoothly entered the “VIP”/staff control and walked like a pro past all the people just going through a quarter of what I just went through.
Israel, you are a beautiful country, but not checking me when I enter the country and doing this huge check before the departure – that was just random! I decided to leave with a good impression and enjoyed my last meal: