Latest travel advice for Israel, Iran and other Middle East countries

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Latest travel advice for Israel, Iran and other Middle East countries

With recent attacks between Iran and Israel threatening to escalate tensions, here is the latest Foreign Office travel advice for countries in the region.

By James Hockaday
15 April 2024
Yahoo! News

British foreign secretary Lord David Cameron has said Israel should think “with head as well as heart” as he urged it not to retaliate to a drone and missile attack by Iran. The strike in the early hours of Sunday has raised fears of escalation towards a wider regional war in the Middle East, but Israeli officials said 99% of more than 300 drones and missiles had been intercepted.

Iran said the attack was revenge for an Israeli strike on an Iranian consulate building in Damascus, Syria, on 1 April, killing seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including two senior commanders. With Israel managing to contain Tehran’s attack with its air defence systems, with military support from the UK and US, Cameron urged the nation to “take the win and then move on” in a bid to avoid any further escalation of violence.

“In many ways this has been a double defeat for Iran. The attack was an almost total failure, and they revealed to the world that they are the malign influence in the region prepared to do this. So our hope is that there won’t be a retaliatory response,” he told Sky News.

Tensions are still running high, however, with a number of airlines cancelling flights to and from Tel Aviv and re-routing other journeys. Here, Yahoo News looks at the latest official travel advice for countries in the region.


Turkey’s foreign minister Hakan Fidan told his US counterpart Antony Blinken on Sunday that he was worried about the potential spread and escalation of the crisis in the Middle East, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.

Fidan said Israel’s war in Gaza was the root cause of this and said a ceasefire and unhindered access to humanitarian aid was needed in the Palestinian enclave.

G7 leaders urge de-escalation and ‘stand ready’ after Iran attack on IsraelScroll back up to restore default view.
“Events in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories have led to heightened tensions in the region and demonstrations are ongoing in locations across Turkey,” the UK Foreign Office warns. “Large demonstrations have been reported outside diplomatic missions connected to the conflict in major cities, particularly Israeli diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul.”

The Foreign Office advises people to avoid all demonstrations and to leave the area if one develops, as some may become violent, adding that police have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protests.

Its general guidelines advise against all travel within 10km of the border with Syria, and all but essential travel to either Sirnak city or Hakkari province. It adds that terrorists are “very likely to try to carry out attacks in Turkey”. Most attacks have taken place in the southeast of the country, Ankara and Istanbul.


In its guidance on travel to Israel, the Foreign Office says: “We recognise this a fast-moving situation that poses significant risks. The situation has potential to deteriorate quickly and without warning.”

It warns of air and road links out of the country becoming disrupted, and advises people who are in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories for non-essential reasons to “consider leaving if it is safe to do so”.

Areas to which the Foreign Office advises against any travel at all include Gaza and a large surrounding area, the northern borders with Syria and Lebanon, and the West Bank – excluding East Jerusalem and Route 1 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.


The Foreign Office advises against all travel to Iran, warning that consular support is “severely limited” in the Islamic Republic.

“British and British-Iranian dual nationals are at significant risk of arbitrary arrest, questioning or detention in Iran,” it says.

“Holding a British passport can be reason enough for the Iranian authorities to question you. If you are detained in Iran, you could face months or years in prison.”

It warns that Iranian authorities no not recognise dual nationality, meaning that if a British-Iranian dual national is detained in Iran, authorities will not allow or ask the Foreign Office to see them.

“If you are detained, your case will be in the hands of the Iranian authorities, who have shown a pattern of hostility towards the UK and British citizens,” the department adds.

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against the Foreign Office’s advice.


Egypt, which shares a border with Israel and Gaza and has been acting as a mediator in ceasefire negotiations, has expressed “extreme concern” over the recent attack.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said it was a sign of a “dangerous escalation” between Israel and Iran as it called for calm.

The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to certain parts of Egypt, although much of this guidance is related to military and terrorist activity unrelated to Israel and Gaza.

These areas include North Sinai, the northern part of South Sinai and the eastern part of the Ismailiyah Governorate, the area west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions, the Hala’ib Triangle and Bir Tawil Trapezoid, and anywhere within 20km of the Egyptian-Libyan border.

While this means much of the country is not safe to visit, there are no warnings in place for Egypt’s popular tourist areas, including the Red Sea coast, Luxor, Cairo and Alexandria.

“Additional security measures are in place to protect the resorts of Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam and other tourist areas on the Red Sea,” the Foreign Office says.

British nationals in Gaza who want to enter Egypt should check the status of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories before they travel.

Saudi Arabia

“Terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia cannot be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreign nationals,” the Foreign Office warns.

It adds that terrorists have threatened to carry out attacks in the Gulf region including in residential compounds, sites related to military, oil, transport and aviation, and public places including restaurants, hotels, beaches, shopping centres and mosques.

The Foreign Office advises against all travel directly to the border with Yemen, where according to Human Rights Watch, border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers trying to cross over.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has led a coalition of countries in a military intervention against Houthi rebels in Yemen, who more recently have been attacking ships in the Red Sea in a bid to stop Israel’s offensive in Gaza. The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to a wider area close to the border.

The Great Mosque of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, seen from above, in the last days of the holy month of Ramadan, on April 5, 2024. Photo by Balkis Press/ABACAPRESS.COM
The Great Mosque of Mecca, seen from above, in the last days of the holy month of Ramadan, on 5 April. (Alamy)


The Foreign Office currently advises against all travel to Lebanon. To British nationals still in the country, it says: “We encourage you to leave now while commercial options remain available.”

Lebanon, is home to the Iranian-backed Islamist militant group Hezbollah, which has been launching rocket attacks on Israel across the Jewish state’s northern border.

“Events in Lebanon are fast moving. The situation has potential to deteriorate quickly and with no warning,” the Foreign Office says.

“Commercial routes out of Lebanon could be severely disrupted or cancelled at short notice and roads across the country could be closed.”

In a further warning, the Foreign Office says: “In the event of deterioration in the political or security situation, the British embassy may be increasingly limited in the assistance that it can provide. Do not rely on FCDO being able to evacuate you in an emergency.”

It adds: “There is also a risk of civil unrest. There have been large protests outside embassies, including outside the US and French embassies on 17 October. Further protests are expected. British nationals should exercise caution and avoid areas where demonstrations may be held.”


While Jordan is generally considered to be one of the safer countries in the region, travelling there is still not without its risks.

The Foreign Office advises against all travel to within 3km of the border with Syria. It adds that terrorists “are likely to try and carry out attacks in Jordan”, some of which could be “indiscriminate” and in places visited by tourists.

While the political situation in Jordan is stable, the Foreign Office urges people to take care if they are nearby any demonstrations, such as recent protests outside the US and Israeli embassies over the war in Gaza.

Visitors are also advised to follow the news reports on any tribal violence and social disputes and to leave the area if caught up in an incident.


The Foreign Office advises against all travel to Syria, where no consular support from the British government is available after all diplomatic and consular staff were withdrawn.

It adds: “The situation in Syria remains volatile and dangerous owing to a decade of ongoing conflict and insecurity. The Syrian regime does not exercise control of parts of the country, notably in the north west where fighting has caused significant civilian casualties and displacement.

“Daesh, formerly known as ISIL, continues to operate as an insurgency and conducts regular attacks, especially in north east Syria and other terrorist groups are also active. Throughout Syria, local security situations are fragile and can deteriorate into armed clashes without warning.”


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