Volunteers are required to cover their own airline ticket costs, as well as living expenses in the West Bank. The main expenses are accommodation, food and travel. The cost of accommodation in the ISM apartments is 30 NISshekel per night for the first month – after this month, housing is free. Food is bought communally in the apartments at a cost of around 10 NISshekel a day. There are also travel expenses to the various villages and towns that we work in, which can amount to around 30 NIS a day.depend mainly on which team you’re working with. From the second month onwards, as you no longer need pay for accommodation, the cost of living reduces.
Furthermore, you’d need to calculate costs for communication (every volunteer needs to have a working phone with a Palestinian sim-card to ensure reachability at all times), and possible to get a cheap phone, if your phone does not work in Palestine.
It’s highly recommended to bring a good camera and a laptop, as media-work makes up a great part of our work.
What to bring / accomodation
As a rule of thumb, pack light. You can buy many items that you may need in the West Bank. Some type of interior-frame backpack is recommended, and bringing a smaller day pack is useful too. For the border, though, coming with a suitcase might be ‘less suspicious’ and, if you’re dressed business-like might give you a easier time at the border. Sturdy shoes/boots are best with a healthy supply of socks. A cheap pair of flip-flops to use in showers is recommended. These are available throughout the country, so if you like you can buy them here.
We advise that activists wear long trousers. Sleeveless tops such as vests and singlets are not advised, nor are transparent, tight fitting or low cut shirts. Shirts have to have short-sleeves at least, even though volunteers, especially women, might feel more comfortable wearing long-sleeves. As Palestinians in general are very concerned with their appearance, worn out trousers with cuts will also get you quite some attention. Women will need to cover their head only when visiting a mosque. If you have any piercings orand tattoos, expect to attract a lot of attention.
Depending on the season that you plan to arrive, the weather can vary greatly – in the summer months (June-October) it is very dry and can be very hot – it. During winter there is a lot of rain and there can also be snow. It is advised to bring waterproofs and plenty of warm clothes if you are coming between November – April.
ISM does provide blankets, but some people prefer to have their own bedding; in winter we would recommend bringing a sleeping bag and in summer a sheet sleeping bag or your own sheets. Accomodation is dormitory-style in shared apartments, cleaning and cooking duties are shared responsibilities by the team. Especially in summer-time, water is often scarce, but Palestinians in general take care of their appearance a lot, so having regular (daily) showers is highly recommended.
If you’re going to be here for a while, bring books, instruments, music players – whatever will take your mind off things. It’s best not to bring any books or other items that are related to Palestine or mark you out as clearly interested in the occupation.