Following the Hamas attack and Israel's planned ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, the Foreign Office has issued a travel warning for Israel. What this means for travelers who are currently planning a vacation to Israel.
The Foreign Office issues a travel warning if there is a “specific threat to life and limb” for travelers. This warning advises holidaymakers not to travel to the affected country. However, it is not a ban. Holidaymakers who are already on site are advised to leave. All German citizens in Israel should register on the Elefand crisis preparedness list, where information is also provided about exit options.
If a dangerous situation has arisen in the holiday area due to force majeure that affects the trip or endangers the holidaymaker, it can be canceled free of charge. This is regulated in travel law (§ 651 h (3) BGB). This requirement usually applies when the Foreign Office issues a travel warning - and package travelers can currently cancel their trip to Israel free of charge.
Individual travelers do not have the same rights as package holidaymakers. Of course, travelers get their money back if the airline cancels the flight. Several airlines have already done this after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel - including Lufthansa.
If the booked flights take place, things look different. From a travel law perspective, an airline could rely on the fact that it can offer the service sold, i.e. the flight. “If you can enter the country, the risk of what you do with your time in the country lies with the travelers themselves,” explained travel lawyer Paul Degott to the “Berliner Morgenpost”.
The situation is similar with a hotel: As long as the hotel is open and offers the service, a free cancellation is only possible if you have already booked it in advance.
However, travelers can hope for goodwill from the hotel operators and the airline and should definitely contact them.
If you only want to travel to Israel in a few weeks or months and have already booked your vacation, you should wait and see, the travel lawyer advises. In the event of a cancellation, costs may apply. Anyone who has booked a package trip should contact the tour operator: "He is interested in only carrying out trips if everything works and there are no restrictions on site," Degott told the "Berliner Morgenpost".
Sources: Civil Code, Berliner Morgenpost, Foreign Office, Foreign Office 2, standard, with material from AFP