There is evidence to indicate the earliest migration of hominids out of Africa to Israel. Canaanite tribes are archaeologically evident since the Middle Bronze Age, and the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah appeared during the Iron Age. The Neo-Assyrian Empire decimated Israel around 720 BCE and it was later conquered by the Babylonian, Persian and Hellenistic Empires, which had existed as Jewish autonomous provinces. The Maccabean Revolt led to an independent Hasmonean kingdom by 110 BCE, which in 63 BCE also was a client state of the Roman Republic and installed the Herodian dynasty in 37 BCE. In 6 CE, it became the Roman province of Judea, which remained a Roman province, until the Jewish revolts failed leading to widespread destruction, the expulsion of the Jewish population and the region being called Syria Palaestina. Jewish presence in the region remained to a certain extent over the centuries. In the 7th century CE, the Levant was removed from the Byzantine Empire by the Arabs and held in Muslim control until the First Crusade of 1099, followed by the Ayyubid conquest of 1187. The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt extended its control over the Levant in the 13th century until its defeat by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. Throughout the 19th century, a national awakening among Jews and the rebirth of the Zionist movement in the diaspora followed by waves of immigration to Ottoman Syria and later Mandatory Palestine.
The three major monotheistic religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism – have strong ties to Israel. From palace complexes and ancient fortifications, to manmade catacombs and Roman ports – there is a very rich history woven into the fabric of this country.
Over the millennia, Israel has felt the footprints of conquerors and settlers, including Canaanites, Israelites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, and even Imperial Britons, all of whom have left their mark. This rich tapestry of inhabitants have made Israel a wonderful and interesting destination.
A visa is not required to enter Israel and you are able to visit for up to 3 months, receiving a visa on arrival if you carry a UK or USA passport.
Israeli new shekel.
Israel is a relaxed country, therefore casual clothing is suitable for most settings. Jeans, t-shirts, shorts and comfortable walking shoes are suitable for most situations and sites within this country.
During visits to religious sites, such as churches, mosques, and the Western Wall, it is better to avoid short skirts, cropped shorts and sleeveless shirts. Women are not advised to bare their shoulders, knees or chests when visiting these sites. If visiting Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth or other cities with religious attractions, it is best to bring long, lightweight layers in order to cover up, and with these items you'll be able to adjust your comfort level according to the temperature. If visiting Jewish religious sites, men should cover their heads with a kippah. However, if men must cover their heads (most notably at the Western Wall) there is likely to be a sign advising of this.
The Israelis like to negotiate with chutzpah. They are very family orientated and come together regularly for Shabbat dinners. Israelis tend to speak loudly and quickly, and can give the impression that they are in a rush or are perhaps frustrated. In Israel, male-female relations are equal in most areas (politics, the army, and private life). Women have the same civic rights as men and there are women in the government that have the same political prerogatives as their male colleagues. Women have the same status as men in the Israeli army and can rise to high-ranking positions (officers, fighter pilot, etc). The same holds true for the police force.
It is commonplace to add a tip for good service. Up to 10% - 12% is acceptable. Andante Travels will take care of gratuities to restaurant staff, local guides and drivers.