Tourist tip #12 / Jaywalking
Why did the jaywalker cross the road? Not sure, because he's likely to get a fine.
Culture clash or common sight? No matter what you're used to in your home country, you should be aware that here in Israel jaywalking is illegal and can incur a fine.
If you're British, chances are you wouldn't bat an eyelid at someone crossing the road at a red light or at a spot without a designated crossing. If you're American, however, you probably know all about the crime of jaywalking – usually defined as crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, not at a corner or against a traffic light. In some countries there are no restrictions on where you can cross, and in others it's the basis of a stringently enforced law.
In Israel, where it seems everyone is always in a hurry, it can be a perplexing sight to watch crowds simply dither on the corner of an empty road, waiting for the light to change. The reason for their waiting has nothing to do with patience. In Israel, jaywalking is illegal, and those who cross against the light can be slapped with a NIS 100 penalty from the traffic police.
Tourists and citizens alike are legally required to carry identification with them at all times. If you're stopped for jaywalking, you'll probably be let off with a warning as a tourist, but it could further complicate matters if you don't present ID when required. Avoid this by ensuring you carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times. Or better yet, just wait until that light turns green.
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