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The current conflict in the Levant involving Israel and Palestine/Gaza is truly tragic and I wish only peace and safety to everyone, everywhere.

One thing that occurred to me when looking at the FCDO Travel Advice for countries in the region was that there are potentially Israeli nationals currently abroad whose short stay visas could be expiring but who do not want to return home for fear of violence. What would happen to them?


On the face of it, Israel is clearly the stronger party in the conflict, with the best equipped military in the region, and the likelihood of direct harm right now to someone in, say, Tel Aviv, is much smaller compared to someone in Gaza, but it's certainly not zero, it's obviously way higher than the peacetime environment of most other Western(ised) countries.

The situation is clearly very serious and beyond what we know happened of the actual attack on October 7th and the conflict since, on a more formal/official level:


I'm curious what would happen to, for example, Israelis in the UK whose e.g. 6 month visa-free stay is due to expire, but who do not want to travel back given the dangerous situation.

Would they be eligible for refugee status / asylum? Would they be likely to succeed were they to apply? Were they not to apply and simply to overstay, would a country really begin deportation proceedings against someone whose country was in such a state as Israel is now?


What makes this uncertain for me is the formidable strength of the Israeli military vs. Hamas and the comparative safety compared to Palestine / Gaza. The FCDO Travel Advise advises against only "all but essential" travel to almost all of Israel (amber), but advises against "all" travel to basically all of Palestine and all of Lebanon, though the latter is dangerous beyond just the current conflict.

My question does not need to be about Israeli's specifically, nor this particular conflict, but I cannot think of another which has the interesting power dynamics which this one does.

Asking here because there are more items tagged refugees then there are in e.g. Politics.

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    Most of the questions about refugees here are about people with a passport replacing document because of refugee status and whether they need visa for the country they want to travel to. I am not sure if your question is an actual travel question or a politics question.
    – Willeke
    Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 21:48
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    Generally speaking, merely coming from a country at war does not make you a refugee under either UK law or the 1951 convention. Neither does being a citizen of a place where travel is not recommended for some other reason. The actual criteria is “fearing persecution” and it doesn't seem to apply here. However, the EU has a separate status called “subsidiary protection” that is more likely to apply to people who fled war without any specific persecution but I am not sure the UK still does.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 21:52
  • Another angle to consider: It is possible to claim asylum if you can show you would be forced to commit war crimes should you come back to your country of origin. This would also be a difficult standard to meet given the UK's government stance but still seems easier to argue than a risk of persecution in Tel Aviv as a Jewish Israeli citizen.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 21:58
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    One last note: Even coming from a country suffering from a long war with widespread persecution and atrocities against civilians is not enough to qualify as a refugee or any other kind of protection. You will need to establish that you come from the specific region where the fighting is happening (one example I have in mind is the East of the DR Congo). The criteria really are much more narrow than this question seems to imply.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 22:04

2 Answers 2

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In the EU, they would be able to make the claim and have it evaluated. A negative decision could then be appealed in court.

Note that there are currently many migrants in Europe whose claim for refugee or asylum status was rejected, yet who got a legal stay on the deportation order on grounds that their homeland is too dangerous to send them back. It probably takes a lawyer or politician to parse that reasoning.

That being said, there are rules which simplify immigration for Israeli citizens. Normally a residence permit cannot be requested during a visa-free stay, but certain nationalities are allowed to do so (look at the entry "Nein(1,3)" on this table for Germany). The question would then be if the Israeli citizen does qualify for a stay under any of several categories.

  • The German admission rules for Jews from the former Soviet Union explicitly exclude those Jews who are already Israeli citizens from that program.
  • A significant percentage of Israeli citizens (but not all of them) would qualify for German citizenship because their ancestors were unjustly deprived of it by the Nazis.
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  • The reasoning is that a temporary situation is not a reason for granting asylum (which is a permanent condition). If the danger is expected to be over in a short while then it is OK (and normal) to grant permission to stay until the danger is over, but not asylum, which grants permanent leave to remain. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 21:53
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There's currently relatively low risk to Israelis in Israel. It is very unlikely that any refugee claim would be accepted. Not only that, but it's actually quite risky to be an Israeli in the UK right now.


To the downvoters - thanks for proving my point.

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    I think you're grossly understating the risk of falling rockets in Israel if you compare it violence in the UK.
    – o.m.
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 5:55
  • @o.m. no, I don't think so. When rockets start falling you have air raid sirens and iron dome will take care of most while you seek shelter. When an angry mob is lynching you on the street you get no warning, and let's face it - the people who want to lynch Israelis can get much closer to them in London than they can in Tel Aviv.
    – littleadv
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 6:36
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    It’s riskier than it was previously to be an Israeli in some areas of the UK would be a more accurate statement. What goes on in London is not necessarily a reflection of what’s happening elsewhere in the UK.
    – Traveller
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 8:02
  • @Traveller your point being?
    – littleadv
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 8:23
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    +1 but any danger in the UK is completely irrelevant, legally speaking. You are still a refugee even if you are in danger where you are seeking refuge. It's not balancing test and the UK (or any other country) cannot ignore its obligations because it's unable to properly protect refugees.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 13:20

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