Vaccinated or recovered foreigners permitted to enter Israel to visit relatives

Foreigners who are vaccinated or recovered COVID-19 patients and who have first-degree relatives in Israel will be able to enter the country to visit them, the Population and Immigration Authority announced on Tuesday.

Visitors are permitted to enter with their partners and children.

Israeli citizens or permanent residents and their families whose “center of life” is abroad may also come to Israel to visit first-degree relatives.

Foreigners seeking to enter Israel must submit a formal request to the Population and Immigration Authority and receive approval prior to their flight. They must also show proof of vaccination or recovery and proof of relation to those they are visiting.

Additionally, travelers must get tested within 72 hours of coming to Israel.

Medical technicians test passengers for COVID-19 at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 8, 2021. (Flash90)

Before this change, foreigners were only permitted to travel into Israel under rare extenuating circumstances, such as to receive essential medical treatment, to attend a funeral of a first-degree relative, or for humanitarian reasons, among others.

The policy change comes amid increasing frustration from Israeli citizens who are immigrants, known as olim in Hebrew. On Tuesday, a group of olim protested at the Rose Garden opposite the Knesset, demanding better oversight of the government’s decision-making process regarding who it allows into the country.

Rachel Hirshfeld (right) and Shahar Cohen, her fiance. Hirshfeld is one of the organizers behind Facebook group Reunite Olim with their Families, which is protesting the lack of entry visas for families of immigrants in Israel (Courtesy Rachel Hirshfeld)

Protesters were asked to dress in wedding attire or to push empty baby carriages, representing the various life cycle events that were being missed by family members stuck outside Israel.

The protest was organized by members of a Facebook group, Reunite Olim with Their Families. The group was created for members to share information and support each other as they attempt to find ways for relatives to visit for important life events.

Foreign citizens have been barred from entering Israel since the onset of the pandemic last year. Earlier this year Israelis’ entry was also highly restricted, as the government ordered the almost complete closure of Ben Gurion Airport, citing concerns of vaccine-resistant coronavirus variants entering the country.

The government later eased restrictions on air travel for citizens ahead of the March 23 elections.

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