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Getting There

It can be very difficult to get a flight out of Israel, so think twice before knocking back that onward or return ticket. Eastern European airlines offer the cheapest tickets, but you get what you pay for. Many people choose to fly El Al for security reasons. Australasians can't get a direct flight to Israel, so consider flying to Europe then looking for a cheap ticket. Cheap charters sometimes fly into Ovda, just outside Eilat, rather than the larger airports, so it's worth looking into this option. In November 1998, a new international airport opened in Gaza. To avoid an Israeli stamp in your passport, you can fly El Al or Air Sinai from Egypt to Israel.

If you are planning to go to Lebanon or Syria, do so before you go to Israel - if there's an Israeli stamp in your passport, neither of these countries will let you in. Although Jordan and Egypt have open borders with Israel, you may not cross them in a taxi or a hire car. Buses travel direct between Tel Aviv/Jerusalem and Cairo (a 10-hour trip) or you can catch a series of buses via Rafah or Eilat. There are three border crossings to Jordan - the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge (where helpful officials may avoid stamping your passport), the Jordan River (which is not particularly convenient to anywhere) and Arava (two km north-east of Eilat). Buses run through all of these crossings, and the exit tax from Israel varies between 50 NIS and 90 NIS. A ferry service runs between Haifa and Athens, Greece, usually via Crete or Cyprus.

Getting Around

Israel is so small that it would be silly to fly, but if you must there are flights between Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rosh Pina and Eilat. Buses are cheap and go almost everywhere - the state company, Egged, is the second largest bus company in the world. Arab buses, though older and slower than their Israeli counterparts, provide a better service to Nazareth, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Jewish buses usually don't run on Shabbat. The small train network is cheaper than the buses, but there is only one main route, between Tel Aviv and Haifa, with one train a day between Haifa and Jerusalem. Share taxis, or sheruts, are one of the most popular forms of transport, particularly because they run on Shabbat. If you are travelling to the Golan or the Negev, where bus services are sparse, consider hiring a car.

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