Six million people, or about 73 percent of the population, enjoy access to the internet in Israel making it one of the most connected countries in the region. Israeli tech is widely ranked as some of the most futuristic and disruptive in the world, but that doesn’t mean there’s zero restrictions on content.
Social media posts deemed to be inciteful and hateful can be censored by the government. The military censor has the authority to gag press freedoms. There has also been talk in the legislature of banning sites containing pornography or keeping a list of those who access them.
Because of these restrictions we recommend you use a VPN while browsing the web in Israel. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all the internet traffic flowing to and from your device by routing it via an intermediary server. It’s sturdy software that guarantees anonymity and privacy.
If you’re outside of Israel but want to stream Israel-only content, a VPN can also help unblock those websites and streams. All of the VPN providers we recommend have servers in Israel that will let you browse the web and stream video as if you were physically located there.
If you don’t want to read the full article, here’s a summary list of the best VPNs for Israel:
- ExpressVPN Our top recommendation. Fast, secure connections that unblock Netflix and other streaming sites. 24/7 live chat support and works with all kinds of devices.
- CyberGhost Best budget choice. Easy to use, with fast speeds and the ability to unblock streaming sites.
- NordVPN Zero logs, strong security, and good speeds. Works with Netflix.
- IPVanish Secure VPN with decent speeds and zero logs.
- VyprVPN No-logs provider that owns all of its servers and works well in China.
Best VPNs for Israel
Our recommended Israel VPNs were ranked based on the following factors:
- Speed and reliability of service
- Strong encryption parameters
- No usage logs
- Unblocks geo-restricted content with ease
- Servers in Israel
- Apps for Android and iOS.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN operates over 3,000 servers spread across 160 locations in 94 countries with quick and efficient connections to all and sundry. Servers are located in Israel too – ideal for residents of the country traveling abroad and wishing to access local content.
The company doesn’t store any logs that could identify an individual user or their online activity. ExpressVPN’s encryption parameters are a sturdy 256-bit AES-CBC with the utilization of both HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy – which means previously encrypted communications cannot be retrieved even if a hacker cracks your password. An internet kill switch is embedded within the app, called a network lock, which means all web traffic will be temporarily halted if the connection drops unexpectedly.
ExpressVPN is also able to unblock geo-restricted content on Netflix with ease. It’s compatible with both Hulu and BBC iPlayer as well and supports torrenting.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and certain wifi routers.
- Very secure
- Good speeds
- Works with wide range of devices
- 24/7 live support
- Unblocks Netflix and other streaming sites
- Only 3 simultaneous connections
- Slightly pricier than alternatives
BEST VPN FOR ISRAEL:ExpressVPN is our #1 Choice. Optimized for high-speed connections. Scores high above its rivals for geo-restricted content. Hard to beat on privacy and security. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.
Here’s our in-depth review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost states very prominently on its site that it maintains zero logs on user behavior and browsing habits so that should ease concerns about privacy and anonymity. Over 5,700 servers are spread across 90 countries in the world including ten servers in Israel so accessing local content shouldn’t be an issue.
The VPN service won’t unlock geo-restricted content on Netflix but does work on BBC iPlayer. It uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication. There’s also an internet kill switch included which means web traffic will be halted if the connection drops unexpectedly.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows, MacOS and Linux.
- Easy to use
- Very fast
- Super secure
- No logs
- Unblocks streaming sites like Netflix
- Doesn’t work in China
BEST BUDGET CHOICE:CyberGhost has a simple set up. Works well in Israel. Good option if you are looking for a fast, reliable connection and an easy-to-use interface. 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is another handy VPN service that boasts a true zero-logs policy – with the result that it holds no data about user sessions, traffic, or timestamps of any nature. The company operates 5,500+ servers in 60 countries making it a sturdy choice for the entire gamut of web activity. Seventeen of these servers are located in Israel. Finding a suitable connection shouldn’t be an issue. It’s able to skirt the Netflix VPN ban with ease, as well as unlocking content from Hulu and BBC iPlayer. Torrenting is allowed.
NordVPN uses the 256-bit AES protocol encryption standard by default coupled with 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is on by default. A single subscription grants access to six devices – making it a good option to share with friends or family – with support for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and Amazon Fire TV.
- Zero logs
- Works with Netflix
- Fast speeds
- Automatic server selection isn’t that great
VALUE AND PERFORMANCE:NordVPN is great value. Solid security and privacy and works reliably in Israel. Use up to 6 devices at once with great connection speeds. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Here’s our full review of NordVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 7 DAYS
Concerns about traffic logs or retention of user data are addressed by the policy of IPVanish to keep zero logs or metadata. IPVanish also has robust encryption parameters, which means prying eyes such as snoopy government agencies or hackers are kept safely at bay. It uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy.
The VPN service also includes an internet kill switch, which means traffic will be temporarily halted if the connection drops out of the blue. Servers are optimized for speed and security – over 1,300 of them spread across 75 worldwide locations in 60 countries, including two in Israel.
IPVanish doesn’t reliably circumvent the Netflix ban on VPNs and is similarly incompatible with Hulu, but does come highly recommended for BBC iPlayer. There are apps for both iOS and Android as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
- 10 simultaneous connections allowed
- Very secure
- Zero logs
- Doesn’t work reliably with Netflix
LARGE NETWORK:IPVanish is great for families. It works with up to 10 Connected devices. Can’t unblock as many streaming services as some of its rivals. 7-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN now keeps no logs on its users, as evidenced by a recent third-party audit. The company owns and manages entire data centers, helping optimize things like speed and stability of the connection. All internet traffic flowing through its servers is secured by the OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication.
VyprVPN is one of the few VPN services that skirt China’s Great Firewall with ease. It can unlock geo-restricted content on Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.
VyprVPN includes an internet kill switch by default, which means web traffic will be halted temporarily if the connection drops – securing your privacy and anonymity.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop apps for Windows and MacOS.
- No logs
- Strong security
- Unblocks Netflix, et al
- Not the fastest
- A bit pricey
INDEPENDENT NETWORK:VyprVPN is user friendly. Good speeds and uptime as all servers are owned by VyprVPN. Great privacy, security and they keep no internet browsing logs. Not the cheapest option. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of VyprVPN.
Free VPN options
It’s easy to find a free VPN if you don’t want to splurge for one.
But free VPN services come with several limitations. You don’t have a large network of servers to choose from. Encryption standards are weak, at best. And be prepared for speed throttling and bandwidth caps – there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Such services may come across as free but they have overheads too – staff salaries, office space, and server maintenance. At the same time they’re not charities – so it’s likely that they’re monetizing by selling your data to whoever can cough up the cash for it and inject tons of invasive advertisements.
If you’re okay with these infractions and lousy service then a free VPN isn’t half-bad. But paid versions are a class apart – with speed, privacy, and security guaranteed.
How to watch Israeli TV from abroad with a VPN
Israel is home to a ton of live and on-demand TV programming. Popular live channels include Keshet, Mako, BeTipul, and Channels 1, 2, 10, and 24. You can also stream video on demand from Isramedia, Hot, Walla, and Yes.
Many of the online streams for these channels restrict watching to viewers in Israel, which means people outside of Israel will need an Israeli IP address to watch. A VPN can change your IP address to anywhere it has servers. All of the VPNs we recommend have servers in Israel. Once you’ve signed up for one of the recommended VPNs above, just follow these steps to unblock Israel video streams from abroad:
- Download and install the VPN app for your device.
- Open the VPN app and select a server in Israel
- Hit the Connect button
- Once the connection has been established, open the video as you normally would.
You now have an IP address for Israel and the stream should now be unblocked. If not, try clearing your cookies and browser cache, or contact your VPN’s customer support for help.
Is using a VPN legal in Israel?
There are some restrictions on accessing content in the Middle Eastern country, but the use of VPNs in Israel is perfectly legal.
Hence if you sign up for any of the services mentioned in this article you’re definitely not breaking any laws.
Is it legal to use torrents in Israel?
Laws are a little murky here, but a Reddit forum suggests authorities turn a blind eye when it comes to penalizing users who indulge in torrents. There have been no documented cases of arrests of people downloading copyrighted material. In fact, in 2013 the Israeli parliament debated making torrents completely legal. The bill, however, has yet to be passed.
What is the future of the internet in Israel?
The Israeli government has long touted itself as the only democracy in the Middle East but that doesn’t mean it’s a libertarian utopia with zero government intervention in public life.
A recent bill pledged to block pornography in the country after legislators expressed concerns that unfettered access might result in children accessing such content. Technically you can still view porn online but there’s a rather cumbersome and embarrassing process in place for users who wish to avail this option.
Under the law, anyone wanting access will have to inform their internet service provider, either by writing to them, calling their head office, or filling out a web form. The list of people requesting this option is also available online, which means a suspecting wife or girlfriend could easily check whether you’re guilty of said behavior. It’s just easier and less of a hassle to use a VPN.
Advocacy body Freedom House also ranked press freedoms in Israel as “partly free” in 2016, stating that media outlets and journalists are subject to military censorship – particularly when it comes to sensitive matters like the ongoing conflict with Palestinians.
The report pointed to the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu chose to keep the communications ministry portfolio with himself rather than appointing a separate minister. This means the current Israeli administration looks at alternative voices with a watchful eye, preferring to weed out any discourse which it might not approve of.
Having said that, the Israeli supreme court usually rules in favor of pluralistic freedoms in the country. The constitution of Israel is protective of media freedoms and rights although there are acts like the 1948 Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance that forbids any expressions of support of “terrorist organizations or groups that call for the destruction of Israel”.
The wording of this law is vague and human rights activists have argued that it’s been used by some administrations to silence dissidents and political opponents.
A hard-hitting feature on Salon in 2016 severely criticized Israeli censorship on online and offline channels. It’s imposed gag orders on international journalists and routinely asks Facebook and Twitter to take down posts that it deems are contrary to the dominant ideology of the country.
And the Israeli government doesn’t just stop at that. There have been instances of using a broad notion of “incitement” to arrest individuals that have allegedly used social media to post dissenting views.
The military censor in the country has also demanded that individual bloggers submit all security-related posts in advance for review before they’re allowed to be posted online. This is similar to the laws that newspapers and television channels are subjected to.
For peace of mind, we recommend you use a VPN while browsing the web in Israel.