Population: 4.5 million
98.5% Muslim; 1.2% Christian
Palestinians are predominantly Sunni Muslims with a small population of Palestinians Christians still living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Approximately 74% of Palestine is urbanized and literacy is about 95%.
Palestine is the land of the Bible, and the story of what Jesus is doing still continues to this day. Behind the decades of political unrest have been many layers of prayer on the ground and a harvest is forecast. Palestinians are God-fearing people and many look to Him for answers. Right now we don’t have any workers in the Gaza Strip but in other areas we are seeing a real openness. There might not be a political solution on the horizon, but we, together with out team in Israel, believe there is a real and current spiritual solution for both Palestinians and Israelis.
Almost half of all Palestinians are registered refugees who hail from towns and villages, now located within the borders of Israel.
Palestine was recognized as a Non-Member Observer State by the UN in 2012. The areas of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem have been under Israeli military occupation since 1967 after the Six Day War.
Whilst still under Israeli military occupation Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem do not currently hold citizenship and entry and exit to these areas is controlled by Israel.
In the world’s eyes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might seem impossible to resolve, however in God’s eyes all things are possible.
Long Term Opportunities
The long term opportunities in Palestine are many and varied, including:
- Frontier Missions
- Women’s Projects
- Sports Ministry
- Refugee Camp ministry
- English Teaching
- Hosting of Short Term Teams
- Prayer and Intercession
- Administration/Accounting and support staff
To join our staff team you will need:
- Successful completion of a DTS
- Minimum 2-year commitment
- God’s heart of love for both Palestinians and Israelis
- We also highly recommend completion of a School of Frontier Missions (SOFM).
Palestinians use three different currencies, none of which are their own: Israeli New Shekel; Jordanian Dinar and US Dollars.
40% of the land is dedicated to olive production.
The easiest and cheapest way to exchange money is at the “money-changer” – just like in biblical times!
Christmas is celebrated 3 times in Bethlehem each year: once on the 25th December, in January for the Orthodox Christians, and Armenian Christmas one week after the Orthodox Christmas.
Palestine has some of the world’s oldest olive trees, some over a thousand years old. Their fruit is harvested on the same weekend in October throughout the entire country.
Palestinians speak the Shami dialect of Arabic, which is similar to that spoken in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Several different learning opportunities are available, including:
- GPA Method using local tutors
- university courses for internationals
variety of locally run courses for international students with local teachers
- private tutoring
Most of our staff have studied Arabic part-time whilst also engaging in local ministry to put their language immediately into use while studying. Others have taken a series of full-time courses followed up with part time studies while in ministry.
Entry to Palestine is via the Israeli controlled borders/airport and a visa must be issued by Israel in order to then enter the Palestinian areas.
Most nationalities visiting the West Bank can obtain a 3-month tourist visa on arrival at Tel Aviv airport, which might be renewed once. However staying any longer than that can prove to be a huge challenge. There are currently limited possibilities for long-term visas, therefore we carefully screen all applicants. YWAM is not registered in either Israel or the Palestinian Authority areas; therefore we work also in partnership with other registered organizations to obtain visas.
Gaza Strip: Entry to the Gaza Strip is currently limited to personnel working with approved international aid agencies by specific permit approval.
Cost of Living
All entry points to the West Bank and Gaza are tightly controlled and by the Israeli Security Forces. Entry points are via Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv via Israel, or by land from Jordan via the northern, central or southern border crossing points. Tourist visas are usually issued on arrival for free for most nationalities at these points. Security questioning can be quite intense on both entry and exit, particular if you are known to have visited the West Bank. If you have stamps in your passport from the following countries, you might be denied entry: Iran; Syria; Lebanon; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Afghanistan; Yemen. You would be advised to obtain a new passport prior to travel.
Internal travel is easy using local shared taxis and buses. Travel for internationals between Israel and the West Bank is relatively easy although you will always pass through military checkpoints requiring you to carry your passport and valid visa at all times.
Many airlines fly in to Muscat International Airport. Or you can fly to Dubai and there are numerous flights a day between Muscat and Dubai. There are buses and service taxis connecting the major cities. Taxis in Muscat are not cheap.
There are also overland taxis and bus services from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Oman. Travel across the borders to Saudi Arabia or Yemen should not be considered.
There are opportunities for short term teams, but we recommend you come for a minimum of 4 weeks to maximise the opportunities. Opportunities include:
- Prayer walks and intercession
- Evangelism and friendship building
- practical service with local ministries
- English “clubs”
- Refugee camp visits and friendship building
The Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been ongoing for over 60 years and the security situation can change hour by hour. We cannot guarantee safety for ourselves nor for those who visit, however those of us on the ground keep abreast of the situation and can provide security updates for those planning to come short or long term.
Currently the threats mainly involve rioting; threat of rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli military incursions.
Who to talk to