Living in Palestine

When driving in Palestine, it is not enough to have a road map. Only a precise knowledge of the local conditions will bring you to your destination if you want to go somewhere other than Jerusalem to Ramallah or Bethlehem.

Currency: Israeli Shekel (NIS) most widely used

Exchange rate: 3.95 NIS per € (December 2020)

Time zone: UTC +2

Country code (phone): +970, in some areas +972

Climate (for capital): hot, dry summers, short, wet and cold winters

The lowest point of the West Bank is the Dead Sea at 431 meters below sea level, the highest point is Jabal Assur in the Ramallah region at 1,022 meters. The West Bank has natural stone as a raw material.

The Gaza Strip consists largely of sand and dunes. The landscape is flat to slightly hilly. At 105 meters above sea level, the Abu Auda is the highest point. The mountain is located in the southeast of the Rafah administrative district. The only natural resource the Gaza Strip has is a large natural gas field off the coast.

Housing and supply

Good housing, for which foreigners have to pay very high prices, is available in sufficient quantities in Palestine, be it in Jerusalem, Ramallah / Al-Bireh / Betunia, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Hebron, Nablus, Jericho or elsewhere. Foreigners are welcome as tenants because they have a reputation for paying on time and they move out again without any problems after their working hours.

Apartments with central heating are not so common (heating is only needed about three months a year), but they are also available. There are also not so many small apartments to be found. You don’t live alone in Palestine.

You should expect occasional power outages – also in East Jerusalem – especially in winter. And in some regions there are also difficulties with the water supply, especially in summer.

All common foods are available – at least in West Jerusalem. Only in the smaller towns of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will you not get everything. There are also restrictions in the supply of alcohol. Usually it is only sold by Christian traders.

Housing in Palestine

Money and money transfer

The supply of cash is not a problem in Jerusalem or in the larger cities of Palestine, and there are many ATMs available.

The transfer to Palestinian accounts takes a relatively long time and is associated with high fees.

US dollar transfers are automatically checked in the United States and may not be processed.

It is very practical to have your own German current account with an EC card, with which you can easily supply you with shekels. However, the card may have to be “activated” for withdrawal in non-European countries. It is therefore advisable to check with your own bank in advance.

Paying with foreign credit cards is not so common in Palestine, but this is not a problem in upscale hotels.

The most widely used currency in Palestine is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). The Jordanian Dinar (JD) is also used in the West Bank. However, it is used almost exclusively in wholesale. There is no Palestinian currency of its own.

In recent years Israel has issued new banknotes with new security features to make them more forgery-proof. The identification marks include, among other things, a color-changing security strip that is visible in three places and alternately shows the person depicted and the value of the banknote, tiny holes in the shape of its value, and various watermarks. The new banknotes show Israeli poets and artists. All old banknotes in circulation are still legal tender and are gradually being withdrawn from circulation.

The current exchange rate can be found in many places on the Internet.

Stay healthy

The Center for Travel Medicine provides travelers to Palestine with extensive and up-to-date information and recommendations. When traveling through the interior of the country under simple conditions and long-term stays, vaccinations against hepatitis A and B, typhus and rabies are recommended in addition to the standard vaccinations according to the German vaccination calendar (tetanus and diphtheria). It is also recommended to seek personal travel health advice from a doctor or pharmacist with experience in travel medicine in good time (around 4 to 6 weeks) before the trip, as the most diverse aspects must be taken into account in individual cases.

Telecommunications and internet

According to ACEINLAND, Palestine without mobile telephony has long been unthinkable, and there is now a clear trend towards second mobile phones.

Not all network providers offer all services in all other networks, this is especially true for SMS. In principle, the services are cheaper compared to Germany, but are also used more intensively than in Germany.

Israeli network providers have reception problems in some areas of Palestine, especially when, which is by no means very common, there is no settlement nearby. But there are two Palestinian providers: Jawwal, who has been on the market since 1999 and claims to have 3 million customers, and Ooredoo Palestine (formerly Wataniya Mobile), who received frequencies from the Israeli authorities on November 1, 2009 and 1, Has 3 million customers.

If you make a lot of mobile phone calls locally, it can also make sense for financial reasons to get two local cell phone numbers (i.e. one Israeli and one Palestinian), as calls within a network are cheaper than calls from one network to another and the charges when using them local prepaid SIM cards are often cheaper than the roaming charges when using a German SIM card.

Internet access is available in numerous public Internet cafes, which are often found in smaller communities. When renting living or office space, care should be taken to ensure that a network connection is available, as new installations can turn into an odyssey.