Internationals: Want to volunteer in Palestine?

AUGUST 2014: Currently it is almost impossible to enter Gaza. Some aid has been allowed through but virtually no volunteers except a few specialised medical staff. This may continue to be the case until the current attacks are over. Convoys are preparing to enter Gaza after the attacks cease so if you have appropriate experience or skills you can see if one is being prepared in your country – contact your nearest Palestine solidarity group (have a look on the net). We hope that the below descriptions of how to enter Gaza will be true again in future. It is still possible to enter the West Bank and you are needed there too.
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This website is primarily in support of Palestine Rescuers and as you can see there is a lot of work still to be done! So minimal time will be given to this section as you can find out a lot all by yourself 🙂

If you are interested in volunteering in Palestine, you will want to consider organisations you might wish to volunteer with, whether you want to go to the West Bank or to Gaza, and how to access Palestine, which as an occupied country does not control its own borders.

Accessing the West Bank and Gaza

PLEASE NOTE: The people contributing to this website have no particular expertise in this area, only their own experiences as internationals. They are aware that, like the Egyptian political situation generally, the situation at the Rafah border is in flux and continues to be unpredictable. Anyone with recent experiences – your sharing of these via our email contact would be helpful.

Palestinians, and fiancees or partners of Palestinians: Your own personal contacts and local consulates/foreign offices may have much better advice for you than we do, as your entry possibilities can be easier or, outrageously, far more difficult than ours, but your situation will certainly be different from our experiences.

Internationals: If you would like to go to Palestine, and you have a good chance of entering to the West Bank via the Israeli-controlled land or air borders (as a “tourist” or having co-ordinated with an NGO that has some leeway with Israel), we suggest you consider going this route first. Israel has a policy of denying entry to many known human rights workers and international volunteers, or other repeat visitors to the West Bank that they object to, so as a new volunteer you are needed there, and will continue to be as long as you can keep entering.

Should you go to the West Bank or to Gaza?

West Bank: You may find it easier to access the West Bank, and new volunteers are always needed there due to old ones ending up blacklisted. Gaza under siege is difficult to enter and also to leave, and simply trying to do so may put you on Israel’s blacklist. Culturally speaking (not only the experience of another country’s culture, but also the oppressive “culture” of military occupation) most people find that the West Bank is an easier introduction to Palestine where you can learn the most constructive ways to communicate and act.

Gaza: If you have already been refused entry to Palestine by Israel, or understand the risk of future refusal yet feel your skills are needed specifically in Gaza, you can try volunteering via a Gaza-based NGO. They can try to facilitate your entry through Erez if you are not blacklisted by Israel, or else via the Egyptian-controlled Rafah border. This can be a difficult and time-consuming process for them as well as you, so it is reasonable to consider if you are bringing useful skills (medical, working with traumatised children, counselling, university/academic etc) that means the NGO’s work to get you in will be worthwhile for them. You can aim to find the organisation that you will be most useful to by some internet research and by contacting NGOs or solidarity groups based in your country that may be partners or supporters of Gaza organisations, which may also facilitate your obtaining the necessary paperwork. If you engage with your local Palestine solidarity group as advised below, you will be able to find out the most recent paperwork required for internations to enter via Rafah.

Previously Viva Palestina Convoy have successfully taken several convoys by land to Gaza, and Free Gaza have made 5 successful sea crossings out of 10 attempts previously, being obstructed by Israel in all recent attempts. We are not aware that either are planning any current attempts.

The International Solidarity Movement has had a fairly constant presence again in Gaza after experienced ISM volunteers arrived by the first Free Gaza boats in 2009. As of November 2012 they are asking for new volunteers who need to meet appropriately stringent requirements. ISM volunteers are in Gaza now (2014) and are posting to the ISM website above. However ISM does not currently have a way into Gaza during the current attacks. ISM also need volunteers in the West Bank, and it is possible to try their training in London.

If you have any sort of medical training, and sometimes administrative skills are also wanted, you can consider organisations such as

Medicines Sans Frontieres/Doctors without Borders
or
Doctors of the World

Recent descriptions of how to enter Gaza:

March 2013: Harry Fear on How to Get to Gaza

Dec 2013: Corporate Watch  on Travelling to Gaza


Before you go to Palestine

You should find your local Palestine solidarity group and attend some of their meetings and events. You will learn more about the situation and get a lot of useful advice. You can also think about what you can give back to such groups before, during and after your trip, since they work hard to keep Palestine issues in the Western consciousness. Often they support specific projects or partner with specific organisations in Palestine and this can be part of your trip planning. Be realistic about your strong and weak points so you pick the right kind of volunteering.

It’s very worthwhile to consider: learning some Arabic, doing some first aid training, obtaining some press ID from your local community media or student paper, and creating an email list you will report home to.

Organisations that you may wish to look into:

Eccumenical Accompaniers
International Womens Peace Service
International Solidarity Movement
Christan Peace Teams
Free Gaza
Israeli Campaign Against Housing Demolition

…these are only a few, and their pages will also have links to other organisations and resources that can help you

See also MAP’s Volunteering in the Middle East page.

When on their way to Palestine via Israel’s borders, some people choose to tell the border guards of their plans to visit Israel but not of their Palestine plans. But at least once a year, volunteers deliberately do the exact opposite!

The Welcome to Palestine project, endorsed by Archibishop Desmond TuTu, now happens annually; people from all over the world head to Palestine to volunteer for community support work. Of course this kind of volunteering happens via a whole range of organisations all through the year as well, but many visitors have to do this covertly, due to Israel’s attempts to stop such solidarity volunteers entering.

Under the Welcome to Palestine banner, participants choose to announce their intentions up front and simultaneously arrive to Israeli border control, to highlight and protest against Israel’s obstruction.

Upfront direct action is obviously great, but if you are thinking of volunteering via Welcome to Palestine, then carefully way up the pros – helping raise international awareness of the issue and still possibly getting in to your volunteering – with the cons – maybe ending up blacklisted and never seeing the West Bank until Occupation finally ends! 😦

In 2012 for example, 30 Welcome to Palestine UK volunteers were refused access to their plane by airline Jet2 at Manchester airport – Israel has a long arm! When this happened also in Paris, CGT’s Roissy-CDG union branch representing airport staff rejected “the complicity of the French authorities in this violation of the freedom to travel”.

Since Welcome to Palestine began, elected representatives of many participants, particularly those imprisoned by Israel for wishing to visit Palestine, have been pressing their governments to condemn Israel’s actions and the complicity of airlines, and investigations have begun into the nature and source of Israel’s ‘McCarthyite’ lists sent to airlines.

Stories about Welcome to Palestine 2012:

Welcome to Israel: Where protesting racism is dangerous by Mya Guarnieri

Whitby Gazette: Carol’s Mission to Israel Thwarted

Renovating the school by visitors of the Welcome to Palestine Campaign


If Israel Obstructs Your Entry to Palestine

You may wish to report your experience via the website Right to Enter: the Campaign for the Right to Enter the Occupied Palestinian Territory, who collect such details to fight Israel’s policy of obstruction.

NOTE: The Comments option is no longer switched on as people were mostly using it to ask questions that we already have answered to the best of our ability in the above text.

89 Responses to “Internationals: Want to volunteer in Palestine?”

  1. Khadija Says:

    I’m trying to get to Palestine, i’m in Cairo Egypt now, what is the best way to travel??? something cheap, safe, i do not want to go through Israel though. Please let me know if you know of anything. also, are there some NGOs that i could possibly get in contact with that could be of help. thanks

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Khadija, I’m assuming you’re not trying to get into Gaza as it’s not really tourist accessible and would require a lot more planning ahead. If you’re trying to get the West Bank, I don’t know the latest myself, but if I were in Cairo, I would visit http://www.seat61.com/ for the latest in overland travel including from Egypt to the West Bank via Israel – that’s cos I think flying fuels oil wars and climate chaos 😦 Good luck!

  2. Aftab Says:

    hi i am Aftab Latif from Pakistan. i want to go palestine but not via israel bcoz pakistani nationals not allowed to go isreal. So, can u tell me any other possibility to go palestine via egypt or any other country. Please tell me . Thanks

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hello Aftab and Imran – you’re asking me the same question so I will answer you both together. Israel controls officially controls all the borders into the West Bank, and all except one of the borders into Gaza. The remaining Gaza border, the Rafah border, is officially controlled by Egypt; however it is greatly influenced by the Israeli government. So it is very difficult to enter, and this is partly why the FreeGaza boats began taking the sea route in 2008. However as you will understand this route is very dangerous, and many people apply to FreeGaza to go.

      Regarding the Rafah land border, you must apply to both the Egyptian government and a Gaza organisation who can gain you permission to enter from the Gaza government. If you have particular skills to offer, then my recommendation is for you to research what charities and NGOs are present in Gaza that need your skills, and see if they may like you to come as a volunteer or paid worker, and then they may be able to arrange your entry papers and help you gain permission from the Egyptian government and the Gaza government.
      Sometimes it is also possible to register with both governments as a journalist and enter this way, but you will need documentation from a press organisation in your own country.

      However, the border may only open once a month, and there may not be an advance announcement. And even when it is open and you have the right papers, you may still not be allowed in. So you will need to expect that you may have to stay a long time waiting at Al Arish, the nearest Egyptian town to the Rafah border. Very good wishes with your efforts!

  3. imran Says:

    I’m trying to get to Palestine, i’m in pakistan now, what is the best way to travel??? something cheap, safe, i do not want to go through Israel though. Please let me know if you know of anything. also, are there some NGOs that i could possibly get in contact with that could be of help. thanks

  4. Kory Says:

    Hi I’m trying to gain access to the West Bank and I am an American. This is for educational purposes (and for fun and adventure). I am doing a school project on the Arab-Israeli Conflict for my senior exit. Please get back to me so I can get some information on how to enter the West Bank. I’ve heard that it is hard due to Israeli restrictions. I’ll probably be over in Jordan in March-April, security isn’t a big concern to me, it’s just another part of life.

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi Kory

      Well, as you know, Israel controls all the ways into the West Bank, and they tend to view anyone wanting to go there with suspicion. You can explain that you’re a tourist or student, but that doesn’t always help. Sometimes it helps to be part of an organised tour, for example Olive Co-op run tours and have links to others who do also. On the other hand, if you said you were visiting Israel, you would be less likely to have trouble. Once again, if you have concrete plans, or are able to say where you’ve booked accomodation and where you plan to visit, that will help.

      By the way, it’s not always appropriate to use the term “Arab-Israeli conflict” as people often use that phrase to linguistically ignore the existence of Palestine and Palestinians – though obviously you personally aren’t, as you’re hoping to visit Palestine!

  5. shaza Says:

    I’m from Sudan and I really want to travel to Palestine .. What would you recommend? What are the problems that i face ? Will I travel through Egypt, Jordan or Lebanon What is better? Thank you

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hello! There are so many different things it depends on. If you are going to Gaza, you have to make advance arrangements with organisations inside Gaza to support your entry – see my answers to other people who have asked about this. The only two ways in are via Rafah, with Egypt’s permission, which can take many weeks or even months, and with Israel’s permission through Erez, which depends on their opinion of you at the border (they may be wary of people who are not white, unfortunately, or people who they think are active in support of Palestinians) and if they like your government!

      For the West Bank, Israel controls all the ways in (including via Jordan), but they are not officially blockading it, so it can be easier to get in there than to Gaza. But the best way is to first make contact with an organisation with Palestine who can give you advice. Lebanon has no ways into Palestine. Wishing you very good luck.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Hello, I am from the UK, however going to be in cario for 6months to learn Arabic, and i want to go to Palestine to help out any way possible, 1stly will it be safe for me a women to go on my own, and is there any organisations or people i could meet who want to help out there? i have been thinking about this for a couple of years now, and i feel that i need to help…

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hello! Yes you can definitely go to Palestine as a woman on your own. Sexual harassment exists there as it does here, but it is disapproved of the same as it is here, and you should always ask for support if you need it, as people will definitely help you. It’s a good idea to avoid short sleeves, uncovered legs, exposing your middle even accidentally, and wearing a neckline that goes below your collarbone, then you’ll blend in and make people more comfortable with you. You’ll pick up other tips on culturally sensitive behaviour while you’re in Cairo, it’s not difficult. As for volunteering, there are so many brilliant organisations in Palestine. I would recommend starting with the West Bank; it’s easier to get to and not as intense as Gaza where you can always hope to go in the future. It depends on what you would like to do, whether you prefer community volunteering or working with kids, or accompanying Palestinians when they are in dangerous situations, as to which organisations to connect with. Trying googling depending on your interest.

      You may be interested these ones, but also look on their links pages for many others…
      The International Solidarity Movement – http://palsolidarity.org/join/
      Israeli Campaign Against Housing Demolition
      Bustaan Qaraaqa – http://www.bustanqaraaqa.org/

      Bear in mind that Israel controls all the ways into the West Bank, and if they think you are an activist or very supportive of Palestinians they may refuse you entry. They may even google your name when you arrive at customs (for this reason I’ve removed your contact details on your question!) If you have plans to visit Israel as a tourist they will be happier to hear about this! However, many young people go on tours in the West Bank, and they expect this, so you could look at educational tours.

      I found this one: http://muradtours.com/default.aspx
      and an Israeli chap who does this one in partnership with Palestinian groups: http://www.jerusalemrealitytours.com/

      Good luck!

  7. rasel Says:

    iI want go to palestine a visitor or voluntore.please tell me easily ,what should I do?

  8. AforPalestine Says:

    Hi, I am going to Egypt this may 27th – june 11th and am planning on entering Gaza through Rafah to stay and volunteer for a while. I’ll be staying in Cairo during those first 2 weeks. I’m from LA and called the Egyptian consulate here, they told me I would have to visit the embassy in Egypt once i get there before trying to go through rafah. this seemed vague though, do i go to the U.S. embassy? or a different one? does anyone know where in Cairo this embassy (whichever one) is?

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Previously, from my understanding, you would need a permission letter from the Cairo based US embassy (saying that you are entering Gaza on your own responsibility) which you then have to take to the Egyptian authorities in Cairo who will then pass permission to their border representatives for you (and a document from whoever you are volunteering with in Gaza will help with that too.) However the border still may not open (normally the above arrangement only means you can go through on a normal open day, not that the border would open specially for you) so you might have a wait of days, weeks, or months.

      BUT! all this may about to change. There are new Egyptian authorities, and they are talking about making Rafah a proper open border (inshallah) within the next weeks…and then who knows what the rules might be. So actually, you may be able to investigate the new situation for the rest of us.

      Remember also, the Gaza side of the border will want to see all those documents too to decide if they want to let you in. The government there find responsibilty for foreigners a strain, and this may be even more so since a longterm international volunteer, well-loved by Gaza people, was kidnapped and killed several weeks ago. If your volunteering is arranged and documented by a well respected Gaza organisation, this may help.

      You will find addresses for all the embassies in any travel guide such as the Rough Guide.

  9. anon Says:

    Hi there,
    I am a student studying the middle east and was recently on my way to Nablus through Ben Gurion Airport to teach music to children with an NGO and it was my first trip to Palestine. I told the passport control I was just a tourist visiting Israel, but they didn’t accept my story, made me open my email account/go on facebook, told me I was lying, put me in a detention centre and deported me! I have no idea where I stand now, and was wondering if you have any idea or know anyone who this has happened to – would this mean a ten year year ban?

    Being in a detention centre was a horrible experience, and although ironically I was not heading to palestine as a serious activist, this experience has made me was to return as one! (If this is how twenty year old english girls are treated I hate to think how they treat palestinians). I was also wondering if you know how to go about volunteering in the refugee camps in Lebanon, as there seems to be less information about this on the internet.

    thanks a lot

    I

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi – yes this is sadly very common. I think if it is not stamped in your passport that you have a ten year ban then you can try again – but all your details from this last attempt to visit will be on their computer, so they can just do it all again. If you have something arranged about visiting Israel/an Israeli contact/project that may help. Sometimes they will let in someone who wants to visit the West Bank for volunteering of the kind you mentioned if they think they are apolitical, but your detention centre history (though they created it all by themselves!) will now work against you on that…

      I also found it hard to find out anything in advance in Lebanon, but there is a very good organisation based in the city camps that used to be called the Women’s Humanitarian Organisation, run by Olfat Mahmoud, a lovely woman who accepts volunteers occasionally. I no longer have a direct contact for her, and the organisation has altered its name so it’s not the WHO now, but I think Medical Aid for Palestine could help you with the new name and contact. They are here: http://www.map-uk.org/regions/lebanon/ and putting Olfat’s name in the search box on their website suggested she has worked with them before. They also may have volunteering suggestions. If you contact them, be very specific about your interests, experience, ideas (eg your music plan) and how much time you have. It’s hard to answer people who just say “I want to volunteer, what can I do?” Someone is more likely to think of an idea for you and be bothered to reply if you are detailed, I think. Good luck! If you ever want to write anything relevant for this website (ie about the work of rescuers) from your travels in Palestinian communities, get in touch again.

    • ZZ Palestine Says:

      @Anon, the exact same thing happened to me a few months after you! I worked in the West Bank although I support the cause, I’m not an activist. But they interrogated me for like 9 hours, logged into my emails and held me in a detention centre. I’m also British, and would love to go back but I’m too scared to try. They also told me I’m a liar and they called people in the UK to confirm that I was lying 🙂 which was all bullshit but I’m in their computer system now as well. If you do try to go back, let me know how it goes! Good luck!

  10. Omar Hagrass Says:

    Hello,
    ok so i am Egyptian and i was born and raised in cairo.
    me and a couple f friends were planning to go to palestine through rafah crossing, however, we do not know what should be done.
    is going through rafah the best way ? if yes then what are the procedures that should be taken?
    i not, then how can we go to the west bank?
    thank you for your help its much appreciated

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hello – I think you have a chance at Rafah under the new arrangements, but nothing is ever certain! I also think it may be different (though I don’t know in a good or bad way!) for Egyptians. I think you would have to begin by contacting the department of your government that manages the Rafah border (Security Department I think?) and getting permission from them. They would tell you what documents or information you would have to provide. Look at the answers to other questions on this page, regarding making arrangements also with a Gaza organisation or representative. Good luck and tell us how it goes, to help other Egyptians with this question!

      As for going to the West Bank – again look at other answers on this page. It is Israel that may – or may not – give you permission to enter to the West Bank.

  11. defendtherescuers Says:

    You can travel to Jordan as an ordinary tourist.

  12. Freedom calls Says:

    So basically, I am in Libya at the very moment, how ever I will be going to Eygpt soon. I am still unsure about the procedures, what is the safest and fastest way to reach Palastine. I want to go there to help. I think I may be some use to the people, please reply.

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Please see the other answers to this question below – though we are currently unsure about the Rafah border situation due to the changing politicial situation in Egypt. (However we don’t think it is any easier). Anyone with updated information, please tell us!

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Dear Freedom Calls

      Have a look at our other answers to people on this page – unfortunately things have not got any easier as far as we know. Arriving to the West Bank via Israel remains easier for “white Westerners”, and harder for others, but if you have the invitation of a West Bank (or Israeli) organisation, this can very much help. Arriving to Gaza through Rafah (from Egypt) is very difficult for everyone, but you can see further advice on this page about that. Very best wishes.

  13. bella Says:

    Hello,

    I have a friend who is a young black man and desperate to help out in Palestine. He is British born and raised and is very much a human rights activist. Are there many great risks to young black men in particular?

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      I’m afraid the only answer is… it all depends. From the reports of others – it may, or may not, be harder to get into Palestine via Israeli controlled borders, and Israeli soldiers and settlers may, or may not, behave with more racism towards a black man. From a distance they may, or may not, assume him to be Palestinian.

  14. maher Says:

    hello please i need your help,, im actually a palastanian but with jordanian nationalty,, im from the west bank (nablis) but i have never intered , im now 21 years and i would love to know how can i enter my country and see my relatives their and my land, and for so many reasons, i heard that i need something like an israelian ID which i dont have , as i said my passport is jordanian and i dont think i have anything to prove im from palastine except i think the place of birth of my dad not me ,, please i really need your help, you have no idea how many things will be solved to me if i just know how to enter it , thank you in advance with the best wishes,
    maher

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Dear Maher

      I’m afraid we can’t be of much help to you; we are writing only from our own experience as internationals. It can be harder for Palestinians to enter their homeland, but it may be possible if you have documents from another country such as Jordan. Actually other Jordanian Palestinians will have a much better idea and be able to give you much better advice. Best wishes and inshallah you can visit your homeland!

  15. essraa Says:

    asalamualaikum, my name is essraa im palestinian. i wanted to go visit my cousins and aunts and uncles there. i live in kansas, missouri i was wondering which airport i should take to go to gaza and how much it would cost i am also going with my dad and sister, and also how do i get into gaza?

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hello Essraa

      If you have American papers you may be able to visit Palestine as an international. But it is still very difficult and many Palestinians and international both are unable to enter Gaza. If you read the answers we have given about Gaza earlier on this page, you will have more information. Good luck!

  16. emma Says:

    Hello, I have been to the West Bank many times throughout my life and even set up a archaeology summer camp there in 2010. However I want to go Gaza sometime in 2012 I am just wondering on the best way of doing this. I would rather go through Egypt than Israel.
    Thank you

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi Emma

      Basically what we know in terms of Rafah (which you’ll see described in answer to others) may be out of date – or may still be fairly accurate. We would love some direct reports to this page (anonymous is fine of course) from anyone who’s lately managed to get in/out, particularly via Rafah, with the changing political situation in Egypt. Our best advice however is that you should find a Gaza/Palestine-wide organisation (perhaps one of the Universities in your case?) to host you and assist with a plan for what you would do there, and that organisation would be able to write you an invitation letter and advise you on liasing with the relevant Egypt and Gaza border authorities. In the past a letter from your own consulate in Egypt saying that they’ve warned you of the risks and washed their hands of you (or something like that!) has also been required.

      Your attempt to enter may or may not still involve you staying in the nearest town (El Arish) to the Rafah border in an open-ended fashion, waiting for an open day (which may be scheduled or unexpected) on which, arrangements or no arrangements, you may or may not get in. This could occur in a week or a month. We would love to hear that Rafah has become less unpredictable if someone can tell us so.

      Going through Israel may be more predictable if an organisation can back you and apply for a permit for you which (in theory at least) may even be approved before you arrive to Israel. MAP (Medical Aid for Palestine) for example arrange visas for volunteers from organisations they liase with, so there may be an academic/archaelology equivalent – or, since medicine is probably seen as more relevant to Gaza’s situation, there may not. Sorry not to be more helpful – if you learn more, please share it here.

  17. James Says:

    Hello.

    I’m an 18 year old English student (who looks Palestinian…) and i’m volunteering in the West Bank for 3 weeks this year. I had a couple of questions.

    Firstly, what should i say when I arrive to the Immigration officers? I’m volunteering with xxxx. Should i tell them this or that i’m visiting the holy land ect..?

    Secondly. I would really like to go to Gaza for a day or two to take a look around and write about what i see. How would i go about this? I hear the best way is through Erez crossing, but i would require a pass from the Israeli army. Do you know how i would get one, as i hear they can sometimes take months? Please note currently i wont be with any humanitarian or NGO on my trip to gaza and would simply be a “tourist”.

    Please get back to me. James 🙂

    (edited for security)

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi James

      That’s great that your West Bank volunteering is arranged. I would ask your host organisation (or other volunteers who have worked with them if you know any) what they advise you to say at customs. Nothing about visiting the West Bank via Israel can be guaranteed, but often pre-arranged “non-radical” volunteering there does not create a problem upon entering Israel, and the pre-arranged aspect is reassuring to the customs people.

      I don’t know the organisation you mention, but if it is an educational charity for example, the customs guards are less likely to be bothered by it than say by an organisation that supports nonviolent resistance to Occupation. However, you are right, you can always also make a plan to visit Israel’s historic and religious areas – do some research, perhaps have some printed out emails on you, make some links with Israeli academic organisations in your field of study perhaps. Then you can talk about both of your sets of plans, or just the Israeli side…and hope for the best!

      Gaza is a whole different ball game. To be honest, not that I know everything, I am not aware of anyone who has obtained to cross into Gaza as a tourist, in recent years, whether through Erez or Rafah. From Rafah, volunteers often spend weeks and months waiting, and from Erez, I am only aware of people entering via orgnisations who liase for their permits based on longterm volunteering/aid work. If you read the answers to others asking about Gaza on this page, you’ll see more.

      That being the case, and Palestine being an addictive journey for so many of us, I would suggest you make the most of the three weeks in the West Bank, because you’ll feel like you’ve only been there a fraction of the time you want to be! but seriously, because you will be able to learn so much during this time, in terms of language and culture, as well as research from on the ground how other Westerners get into Gaza – for a future plan.

      All the Western volunteers I know that have spent time in Gaza have only gone there after repeat experience in the West Bank, with at least basic Arabic skills, and we still often felt out of our depth. Also, so many repeat volunteers to the West Bank are now banned from entry by Israel, so the West Bank has lost a lot of its pool of volunteers, and for this reason I sometimes say to people – volunteer in the West Bank for as long as you possbily can, as you are really needed.

      Sometimes even just indepedent attempts to go to Gaza via Israel (without the more neutral face of a charitable organisation to negotiate for your permit) can be enough to have Israeli authorities marking you down as a radical who is not welcome ANYWHERE they control – so bear that in mind too!

      Best wishes (and I hope you don’t mind I edited your message to protect the security of your plans a little) and you are very welcome to seek out some West Bank medics and firefighters to interview if you would like to write anything about the current situation for the Defend the Rescuers page – pics and articles would be great.

  18. suwanky Says:

    hi i’m suwanky from indonesia and i really want to go to west bank so i would like to know if it is easy for me to get into west bank?…

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi Suwanky – the best thing to do is look at the answers we have given on this page to other people who have asked this question. Good luck!

  19. reuben Says:

    hi there im a 19 year old english (white) male. over the last year i have learnt about the terrorist behavior by israel toward palestine. and the support that my government gives israel in its actions. the fact that we are so un educated or informed on this situation disgusts me and i now feel alot of passion towards doing what i can to support the people of west bank and gaza i wish to travell there and do what ever is in my power so my questions are:

    will my criminal convictions effect entry they are not any sort of internatianal crimes just silly young kid things such as car theft shoplifting and small drug possesions? all committed as a minor ( under 18)

    best british charity out lets to contact i have skills in contruction painting decorating and in genral am i very able healthy young man im sure i could fit many uses?

    amount of time to allow for (i have a child of my own so dont really want to be gone more than a month or 2 at a time is this realistic?

    how much money i would need to support that amount of time over there?

    i only speak english what it still be possible to help ?

    please excuse my bad spelling thankyou for the website

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi there, well it’s really encouraging to know that you’re educating yourself about Palestine and the occupation and the UK’s links to it all, so many people just prefer to be ignorant. It is even better that you want to take action. So here are some answers to your questions…

      1. The kind of minor criminal convictions you mention shouldn’t be on record as far as we know at the borders of other countries. (We wonder if this might happen one day, especially within the EU, but we are pretty sure that sort of info is not officially shared between countries yet – Interpol focuses on terrorist and spy records we think.)

      2. Best British charities – our experience hasn’t been with UK based ones, but that’s not to say they aren’t out there. We do have some lists of Palestinian based ones. Let us have a little look and get back to you with at least a few suggestions of both kinds – some spring to mind, just want to find some links for you – and feel free to do some googling yourself and we can pool info! We’ll be back on this within a week. As you will see in other answers on this page, we would almost always advise someone new to the place to begin by visiting the West Bank, so that would be the place to google about.

      3. AMount of time – that may depend on the organisation and their requirements, but you should definitely be fine to find something for a month – any less than that and it won’t be enough for many of the more formal orgs, though ok for some of the less formal ones.

      4. Money – well that depends on the organisation too, for example if accomodation is provided or you need to arrange some or donate towards it – so once you get an organisation or two you are interested in, then they can give you a better idea. Generally the West Bank is not a very expensive place for people with UK jobs who are able to save up a little in advance.

      5. Only speaking English – that’s totally fine, as lots of Palestinians speak English, and you can learn as you go. You can also learn ten or twenty words in advance – look for language CDs that are described as Eastern or Levantine Arabic as they will be the closest to Palestinian dialect. The Dr Pimmsleur Eastern ARabic language CDs are as good as we’ve found, and they’re at some of the city libraries to borrow.

      No worries about the spelling, we don’t care!

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi again

      Hey we should have thought of this earlier – The Israeli Campaign Against Housing Demolition would love to have a constuction worker volunteering with them!

  20. tabish Says:

    salaaam
    i am tabish khan from karachi pakistan
    i love one Palestine girl and i wannt marrage
    i wannt know that how can this girl come in pakistan

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi Tabish, I am really sorry but we don’t have any knowledge or experience about how Palestinians can travel in or out of Palestine. It can work, after a lot of paperwork, or it can be very difficult. But Palestinians themselves will have a lot more information about this than we do. Our experience has only been for international volunteers visiting Palestine to do peace/human rights work.

  21. K Says:

    Hi everyone, I finally went to the West Bank and crossed via Israel. It’s actually very easy to enter the West Bank — you just drive through. Leaving, on the other hand, you’ll have to go through checkpoints (the one at Qalandia, near Ramallah, is particularly long) and it is possible to be turned away (that happened to me, I had to go by Sheikh Jarrah instead). Just make sure you have your passport with you at all time as both Palestinian and Israeli officials will want to see it. Also, do not take pictures of the soldiers unless you’re given the go-ahead: They will take your camera. If you want to go to the West Bank, then talk to the Palestinian taxi drivers outside of Damascus Gate.

    I hope this helped.

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi K

      Thanks for reporting back! Just to give your information a context for other enquirers, once IN Israel, the Israeli checkpoints both into and within the West Bank do usually let foreigners through, for example at least as far as Bethlehem or Ramallah, especially if they seem tourist types – this makes the Occupation look friendlier to outsiders, and keeps the tourist dollars coming into Israel too. No tourist types are allowed anywhere near Gaza.

      This potentially easy access past checkpoints into the West Bank, is because Israel relies heavily on its primary border security (eg at Ben Gurion airport or the Jordan land crossing), so if you’re already in Israel, that’s probably because there was no suspicion that you might be there to do something they don’t like, at your initial point of entry into Israel.

      And of course, crossing between the West Bank and Israel can be well nigh impossible if you AREN’T a foreigner. As for if you are a foreign solidarity activist invited to Palestine by Palestinians – since Israel controls all access to the West Bank, then despite Palestinians inviting you to their own country, you may not even make it into Israel to begin with, let alone as far as a checkpoint into the West Bank! Such folks may well be refused entry into Israel – which wasn’t even really where they wanted to go!

      Having an up-to-date report about someone’s experience of accessing Palestine is very helpful, and we’d like more. Bear in mind your own security – sharing only general info, anonymity and using altered trip details or leaving out dates etc to protect your own movements is fine.

      For this reason we’ve taken off K’s details, because posting to this page might be enough to make him less welcome on his next visit to Israel and Palestine!

  22. M Says:

    hello, I am from Xxx and am going for my Palestinian friend’s weddding in Xxx to West Bank. My Xxx friend (looking very Arab) will come with me. Can you give me an advice on what we should say on the border – that we are going for a wedding to Palestine, or that we are simply tourists wishing to visit Israel? Is there reason to believe that my friend will have any ‘additional’ problems on the border since he looks Arab?
    Will there be any material proof (in our passports) that we have been in Palestine, so that we might have problems on our way back?
    Thank you in advance,
    M

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hello M

      It’s hard to know which of your two suggestions to opt for. A reasonable Israeli border/customs officer will accept that you are going to a Palestinian wedding and that shouldn’t be any problem, an unreasonable one may not. It may in fact be harder for you to be convincing about an Israeli tourist visit you are not actually making. Still, if you would like to see something of Israel and had researched where you would stay and what you would visit, that might be worth adding in either instead or as well. If it’s a quick visit perhaps the wedding will be accepted since you won’t look as if you’re getting up to anything else while in Palestine. Unfortunately there are no easy answers! I would suggest you ask your Palestinian friends for their opinions/advice on your best approach too.

      You may be asked to show your passports at israeli checkpoints into and within the west bank, to check you have an Israeli visa, but it is unlikely to be marked. If your name is written down at a checkpoint you will likely see it happen and know you may be asked about this when exiting Israel, and if you explain at the checkpoints that you are going to a wedding they may not be at all interested in you. As for your friend, if he has an EU passport and a non Arabic name he should have just as good a chance at the initial entry to Israel as you do (unless you get someone who is prejudiced against people with darker skin, as of course can happen anywhere.)

      Hope you have a lovely wedding celebration!

  23. r.zoske Says:

    Good Internet Side.
    I have a question to.
    Ive i wabt married a Woman from Gaza to help here out there,
    how can i do that.?
    im from Swiss. thx allot.

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      hello – sorry, unfortunately this is not something we have experience of. If you are engaged to a Gazan woman she will be better able to advise you. The relevant Swiss government office will be able to tell you what is the process for a Palestinian who is married to a Swiss person to apply for a Swiss visa. The Swiss consulate in Egypt or Israel may then help with the visa application process which would allow her to leave Gaza, but it all depends on your government’s attitude to Palestine. Some consulates can be very helpful, some consulates will not help at all. Being married to each other unfortunately does not give either of you the right to live in your spouse’s country, it does not even give you yourself easy access to Gaza. There are many married couples, one Palestinian, who are stuck living in two different countries – you can see more about this situation at http://www.righttoenter.ps/index.php

  24. K Says:

    Hi, as a Canadian who is planning on volunteering for a year in the Bethlehem area (the NGO is a registered Israeli organization but as “doing business in Palestine”), just trying to suss out the best place of entry. I spent 6 weeks in there last year (officially speaking as a “tourist to the holy places” 😉 I DO have a new passport with new passport number since last year – wondering if my previous visit will be on record in their system? Someone suggested that it might be easier to cross through Jordan on a bus, rather than fly into Ben Gurion – any thoughts on that? Once I’m there, I’ll either apply for some sort of visa (working on that w/ my NGO) or cross in and out every 3 months (not my favourite plan). Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hello! Your previous visit will be almost certainly be on record under your name,dob,nationality etc; they’ll just add your new passport details to their record.

      Of course there may be a limit to cross referencing – hypothetically speaking, someone who uses their second nationality to get a new passport from a different country and also happens to have changed their name by deed poll still has the same date of birth, but maybe not be noticed as a previous visitor if they don’t announce that they were. Although border authorities are aware of likely dual nationalities, (eg Irish/British), and high tech stuff like eye scans are being introduced at many countries borders now as increased security, so it’s easy to imagine all those ID details may become less depended on. And bear in mind that photos are stored as well (which may include ones taken covertly of you if you’ve spent time in Palestine).

      Where you cross into Israel may or may not influence if you get let in – but usually seems not to. Israel controls all the ways into the West Bank and has the same computer records accessible at all of them.

      It’s always hard to know what the best plan is, but if your NGO thinks they’re tolerated enough, then simply saying up front that you’re coming to be a tourist and also volunteer with them might get you that 3 month etnry visa fine. Sometimes actually being a repeat “tourist” without a more detailed story that explains the repeat bit (relatives, academic research/study, Israeli long-distance partner, Christian pilgrim with a LOT of details you can talk about) makes border guards suspicious, especially if you’re “young activist aged” – even though it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to be! A country that finds peace volunteers threatening tends to reason with a level of paranoia that it’s hard for the rest of us to predict…apologies for no easy answers. Very best wishes.

  25. Doctor X Says:

    I don’t know if you know Khaled Jarrar (photographer) and his well-known project “Live and work in Palestine”, with which he stamps people’s passports with “State of Palestine” stamp. Link for those who do not know it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snkXi2wn3hA

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR WEBSITE! NICE AND GREAT JOB! I LOVED IT!

  26. Maciej Says:

    Hello. im polish and I’d like to help Palestinian people by any means I can provide. Sadly I have no useful education though I know basics of first aid. My concern is that there are not many flights from Poland to Israel, so I guess I’d have to try going through Egypt. Would you provide me any tips neccessary?

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      If you want to enter Israel from Egypt (to go to the West Bank), you can look at any travel guide for Israel for how to do it from the Sinai. But you don’t have to fly directly to Israel from Poland – you can go via any European city – just ask a travel agent or again look in travel guides for Israel. Other travel advice is in the answers to other questions on this page. It may work best to find the organisation that you want to volunteer with first, and they can help you further. Good luck!

  27. marwan Says:

    Assallamwalaikum
    my name is Marwan Khan. i am from India. i want to enter palestine and help them in any way possible. i am doing BA from a college here so i can also teach the kids there. please let me know how to enter Palestine. i can bear the travelling expence .

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Please see the answers to other similar questions on this page – best wishes

  28. amir alfarouq Says:

    i’m a Malaysian. and i really wanted to go to palestine to help them. what can i do?

  29. Hamza Says:

    Salam,

    To be brief, I am a Tunisian citizen currently in the UK awaiting the MA graduation that will happen so soon…

    I have studied Music (National Diploma), English Lge and Literature (BA), Applied Linguistics (MA), and Muslim Cultures (MA).
    My operational field is Teaching.
    I have scanned the text above and I did not find a direct link to some “pragmatically” functional link.
    What I mean is where can I apply my knowledge (the fastest possible) so people in Gaza can benefit from ?

    As a citizen of a 3rd world class for the Eu union I with a lot of my fellow country men suffer from a lot of paper work that is unnecessary… Is there a direct way where we, with our modest countries, can be treated as Humans in order to go and help our human brothers and sisters there without going through a lot of paperwork?

    Thank you for your understanding

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Congratulations on your graduation! Since you are an Arabic speaker, your first option might be to contact the Al-Azhar University or the Islamic University and ask them about volunteering with educational programmes in Gaza. This is not something we know anything about, so let us know how it goes. We have listed other organisations you can volunteer with on the page above also, but most of them focus on direct action/human rights observing. As for the paperwork – there is no easy way into Gaza! But if an organisation is welcoming you as a volunteer, they will be able to advise you about entering. Best wishes!

  30. S Says:

    Hi! I’m thinking about volunteering in the West Bank with XXX, an organisation trying to promote interaction between Israelis and Palestinians. Am wondering about [dual passports].

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi S. The organisation you mention is an inspiring one, best wishes with it. They might also have advice on your question. But basically, your European passport may get you through with no complications, and we think there is (as yet!) no automatic link they would have to know about your Middle Eastern passport unless you volunteer it, if you’ve not been in using it to visit in the past. They may ask you if you have other passports, if they think you look like you do. Ask your organisation what advice they would give (it should be absolutely reasonable to announce that you arriving to work with this cross-community peace-promoting organisation, but unless the organisation says they never have any trouble with volunteers entering, don’t assume so! Also, bear in mind that repeat visits may draw more attention and you should be consistent in answering questions in the future too with what you say now.

  31. Aleph Campos da Silveira Says:

    My name is Aleph.Im from Brazil and I wish to joing a Palestine Support Group. I need help to enter Palestine and help them in any way i can.

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      We imagine if you look on the internet on Brazilian pages you will find your local Palestine solidarity groups there. Best wishes!

  32. Zaheer Says:

    I am a Paramedic and I would like to volunteer in the field operations in Gaza. Any advise on whom should I get in touch with. I have written to a few of the operators and organisations but I would like to reach out to more whom can maximise my skill sets. I appreciate your kind inputs.

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Our experience of ambulance accompanying was not because we were paramedics but because we were vounteering as human rights observers. Our best advice would be to contact the local ambulance services and discuss the possibilities directly with them and it sounds like you are doing that. In 2008, BtSelem reported the Gaza Palestinian Red Crescent Service as running 40 ambulances, and the Gaza Ministry of Health’s Civil Service as running 56 (these numbers will be out of date now but will give you a proportional idea) and there are some other smaller charities that also run ambulances.

      It was our perception that in an area of massively high unemployment, paramedic jobs were few and greatly desired, and many Gaza locals volunteer with the PRSC for example with the dream of a paid position one day. So it’s important to bear that in mind along with your own wish to volunteer – think about what you can bring from outside, perhaps new training that you can share, in order to avoid simply filling shifts that locals might have had (this is more of an issue in the low-level violence of daily life under occupation than under a major attack when extra hands are a help.)

      Of course working alongside Palestinians in the short term has its own value too, in terms of solidarity and breaking down the sense of isolation that occupation brings. Please share how your plans go with us, so that you can help us advise other paramedics who would like to visit. If you are not an Arabic speaker already, then learn as much as you can before you go. Good luck!

  33. al ardy ally Says:

    Hai..I just want to know..I am from malaysia..and I have been thinking about going to palestine to be a volunteer..what should I do?and does any fees required to be a volunteer?it is because I am a student.I need as much detail as posible.

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      You will find all the answers that we can currently give you on this page, either in the main content, or in the answers to other questions. Best wishes!

  34. Maya Llamazares Says:

    Heya, basically I’m a third year student at university, I’m studying film and I want to make a documentary based in Palestine, ideally Gaza but of course if I can’t head over to Gaza then the West Bank. I’m just wondering if I could be able to get to Palestine through either Israel or Egypt by trying to show that Im a student and on the press, obviously I don’t work for a paper and I’m working by myself, but if I do end up traveling to Palestine I will get a bullet proof jacket that states that I am from the press. Do I have more chance getting into Palestine this way? If not is there an organization that can support me in this project?

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi Maya

      Showing that you are a student does not help you to enter Palestine either via Israel or Egypt. You may wish to contact the Alternative Information Centre (who are based in Israel, which you can enter as a tourist) for advice and a chance also to volunteer doing media work which could give you a good grounding in understanding the situation… http://www.alternativenews.org/english/

      Best wishes
      (and if during your visit you wish to write an article relevant to this site we’d be glad to post it!)

  35. Karolina Says:

    Hi, I’m 22 yo student from Poland and I would like to be a volounteer. Could you please recommend me the organizations through which I could go there and help these people?

  36. Amanda Says:

    Hello, Am Amanda i live in sudan and i want to volunteer outside sudan and go to help people in other countires am 17 years old.. and am asking if i can volunteer and travel for free.

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Please see the information already on this page. Most organisations expect you to provide your own funds, and many may require you to be over 18.

  37. Sameer Says:

    I am from India Kashmir I want to visit Palestine and Jerusalem. Please help me to know how can I get in easily.

  38. C Says:

    hi i am from the United States and i plan on going into the West Bank for a couple months and volunteering there. my problem and question is how to i get a military entry permit that Israel is now requiring Americans to have to get into the West Bank? or are there other methods that i can do to get in?(ex. getting a press pass maybe if that still works)
    thank you

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Hi C

      Can any US folks recently travelled to the West Bank update us and C on this?

      Cheers
      DTR

  39. Bashayar Says:

    Asalamwalaikum ,
    i am a 15 year old girl ready to help the people in palestine ! please i want to volunteer in palestine but my parents wont allow :\ please help me ! its my dream to help the people of palestine since i was a kid ! i am ready to do anything :’) please do reply !

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      The best advice would be for you to look around in your home country for Palestine solidarity groups to get involved with until you are old enough to travel. You could also start studying Arabic now, and maybe even think about a skill to train in that would be good for volunteering.

  40. Inayath Inayath Says:

    every one want to go help the palestinian but i need help here is there any way that i can meet my life i am from India a girl loves me from gaza she is in love with me his father not allowing her to marry me i dont know what to do she loves me so much i met her through facebook now she want me its been 2 years she is telling her dad and her dad is not listening to her can any body have a idea what to do plz reply

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      Sorry this is not something we know how to help with – apologies and best wishes.

  41. soraya Says:

    hello i really want to go to palestine but I m just 17 i don’t know what to do.. please i need help im american i want to volunteer please but i have any natoinality algerian …. i want to go to west bank

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      You can look on the net for West Bank/peace organisations that accept volunteers. Then you can email them directly to see what is the best option for you.

  42. Raed Says:

    Hi
    I am Palestinian Canadian and would like to visit my family in Gaza strip. Do you think Israel will allow me in Gaza through Eriz?
    thanks

    • defendtherescuers Says:

      This is not something we are know anything about really. Your fellow Palestinians with other foreign passports will be able to give you better advice, as will the relevant Canadian authorities who will know what has been possible previously. We are aware that Palestinians also holding British passports are sometimes able to enter and leave via Erez.

  43. Muhammad Maarij Says:

    Aoa.
    Im a citizen of karachi. I would love to be a volenter of our beloved brothers & sisters of gaza and west bank..
    Plz make my this wish come true & make my self a volenter for them… i shall be really thank full too u..!
    Regard,

  44. ?? uk dhani Says:

    hi am im looking to try and get to palestine i am from the uk and want to help the poor and people who are suffering also to explore the lands and help as muchas i can . what do you reckon is the best way to go about doing this .

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