Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED TEL AVIV AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
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Every year, thousands of U.S. citizens visit Israel for study, tourism, and business without incident.
The government of Israel makes considerable efforts to ensure security, particularly in areas where foreigners frequently travel. Since 2013, U.S. government personnel assigned to Israel have reported the following crimes: residential burglaries, trespassing, theft of personal belongings, and motor vehicle theft.
Residential burglaries are common and generate heightened concern among the diplomatic community in Tel Aviv. Perpetrators have generally avoided contact with residents, but reports of home invasions in proximity to U.S. Embassy residences have occurred. The Embassy had four homes broken into in 2015, and, although the Embassy had none in 2016, the almost daily reports of residential break-ins from neighbors (including other diplomatic missions in Israel) cause concern in the expatriate community. Security alarm systems, window grilles/shutters, exterior lighting, security patrols, quality locks, and sound residential security operational practices are all credited with reducing the occurrences of burglaries.
Reports of petty theft (unattended items left in vehicles, public places) are not uncommon. The Embassy receives frequent reports from private American citizens and members of the diplomatic community. Despite the prevalence of property crime, violent confrontational street crime is uncommon and generally reported only in certain high crime areas (Florentine, Jaffa neighborhoods).
Vehicle theft is common throughout of Israel. In most cases, stolen vehicles are not recovered; often, thieves will drive into neighboring countries/territories beyond the reach of Israeli authorities. High taxes on motor vehicles imports make all vehicles, including electric bicycles, attractive targets for thieves.
Financial crimes, fraud, organized criminal activity, sexual assault, drunk driving, and narcotic/gambling violations are not uncommon in Israel. Parts of Israel experience waves of criminal activity and violence that has included car bombs or small arms in targeted assassinations of organized crime figures.
Other Areas of Concern
Throughout 2016, there have been intermittent instances of small arms fire, rockets, and mortars fired into Israel from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Gaza; however, the level of rocket attacks has not been anywhere near the frequency or severity as the summer of 2014. As a result of recurrent cross-border fire, the Embassy restricts employee travel to these border areas:
Syria and Golan Heights: The Syrian civil war that began in 2011 has led to fighting between the Syrian military and Syrian opposition forces and among opposition forces. There has been fighting between rival groups near the U.N. Disengagement Zone adjacent to the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. There have been several incidents of errant mortar shells and small arms fire impacting the Israeli-controlled side of the Zone. The IDF have augmented their positions on the Golan. Visitors to the Golan Heights are cautioned that due to unmarked or poorly marked minefields, they should only walk/travel on established roads/trails and pay close attention to warning signs and notices. U.S government personnel are restricted from traveling east of Israel Route 98, which keeps them well clear of the immediate Syrian border region.
Lebanon: Israeli authorities are concerned about the terrorist threat from Hezbollah or other groups operating in Lebanon. While the Israeli/Lebanese border has been an area of relative calm in recent years, the threat of rocket/missile attacks and small arms fire persists, and the tensions in this area have elevated. Due to the occasional small arms and rocket cross border incidents, official and personal travel by U.S. government personnel is restricted within 1.5 miles of the Lebanon border region.
Egypt: Israeli authorities have maintained a heightened state of alert along Israel's border with Egypt, given the turmoil in the Sinai. ISIS affiliate Sinai Province continues to be a threat along Israel's border in the Sinai. The group has been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in Egypt and fired rockets into Israel in 2015 and 2017. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from travel within 1.5 miles of the Israel-Egypt border along the northern Sinai, including all portions of Route 10 and some portions of Route 12. This keeps them well clear of the Sinai border region.
West Bank: Travel to Bethlehem and Jericho is authorized for U.S. government employees after receiving additional security briefings. Due to the fluid security environment, additional restrictions can and have been put into place, temporarily restricting these locations. Travel to most other locations in the West Bank is authorized for U.S. government employees only in armored vehicles with security support.
Gaza Strip: U.S. citizens are strongly warned against travel to the Gaza Strip; the U.S. government does not permit American employees to conduct official or personal travel in Gaza. Travel to areas in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip (particularly towns like Sderot) carries with it the risk of indirect fire, mortar, and rockets that are launched from the Gaza Strip with little/no warning. Visitors should remain aware of the location of bomb shelters and should take note of announcements and guidance provided by the Home Front Command. Added security measures for U.S. government personnel (use of armored vehicles) are normally used for such travel.
Source: Overseas Security Advisory Council