Bethlehem back on the tourist circuit

Photo: Mockstar

The Foreign Office warned against travelling to several Palestinian cities in July, but has since lowered the severity of its advice, prompting tour operators to resume visits to Bethlehem.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situations and should the advice change we will update accordingly, a spokesman told The Telegraph .

The FCO currently advises against all travel to areas of Israel within 40km of the border with Gaza (including Sderot, Netivot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, and Kiryat HaMalachi) due to the escalation and risk of conflict in the area.

“If you’re currently in Israel you should follow directives from the Israel Defence Force’s Home Front Command, avoid protests and large gatherings, pay attention to local alerts and seek shelter quickly if the siren sounds,” cautions the FCO.

Another tour company, Cox & Kings, also told The Telegraph that they would be visiting Bethlehem once again, including it in there Journey to Jerusalem tour.

The news follows the resumption of normal operations at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, which were previously subject ot US FAA suspension in July.

“If you are planning to fly into or out of Ben Gurion Airport, check with your airline to confirm the flight status before you travel to the airport,” adds the FCO, noting that the situation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank “remains tense” and that the security situation is “volatile”.

“A heavy Israeli security presence is likely. Be extra vigilant and take great care when travelling anywhere in the West Bank,” advises the FCO.

“Isolated protests and demonstrations can occur both in the Old City, and in East Jerusalem. Leave the area immediately if there is evidence of tension or unrest.”