Why do many public bathrooms in Israel lack toilet seats?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

One of the most puzzling features of public restrooms in Israel is the lack of toilet seats. Tourists and visitors to the country are often taken aback by the sight of toilets without seats, wondering if they have stumbled upon a cultural norm, a design flaw, or a hygiene issue. This article explores the reasons behind this phenomenon, examining the historical, cultural, economic, maintenance, legal, accessibility, design, user, and public factors that have contributed to the absence of toilet seats in many public bathrooms in Israel.

Historical Background

The history of toilet seats in Israel dates back to the early 20th century when the country was under British mandate. The British built public toilets in Palestine, the predecessor of Israel, with the intention of providing basic sanitation services to the population. These toilets were designed without toilet seats, as they were considered a luxury item at the time. The practice of building toilets without seats continued after Israel’s independence in 1948, as the country faced economic and social challenges that made toilet seats a low priority.

Cultural Factors

Another factor that has influenced the absence of toilet seats in Israeli public restrooms is the cultural attitude towards cleanliness and modesty. In Jewish and Muslim cultures, it is customary to avoid physical contact with surfaces that may be contaminated or impure, including toilet seats. Some people prefer to squat or hover over the toilet bowl, rather than sit on a seat, to avoid direct skin contact. This preference has led some public restroom managers to remove toilet seats altogether, assuming that users would not miss them.

Economic Constraints

The lack of toilet seats in public restrooms in Israel can also be attributed to economic constraints. Building and maintaining public restrooms is a costly endeavor, and toilet seats add an extra expense to the budget. Public authorities may opt to save money by omitting toilet seats or replacing them less frequently. In addition, theft and vandalism of toilet seats are common in public restrooms, which further increases the cost of replacing them.

Maintenance Issues

Another reason why many public restrooms in Israel lack toilet seats is the difficulty of cleaning and disinfecting them. Toilet seats are known to accumulate germs and bacteria, which can pose a health hazard to users. In some cases, public restrooms are not cleaned frequently enough to ensure the hygiene of the seats. By removing the seats, restroom managers can reduce the amount of cleaning required and minimize the risk of infection.

Hygiene Concerns

While the absence of toilet seats in public restrooms in Israel may be intended to promote hygiene, it can also have the opposite effect. Without a seat, users may have to crouch or straddle the toilet bowl, which can lead to splashing and spillage of bodily fluids. This can create a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses that can be transmitted to other users. In addition, the lack of a seat can make it difficult for people with disabilities or mobility issues to use the toilet safely and comfortably.

The absence of toilet seats in public restrooms in Israel may also conflict with legal requirements and accessibility standards. The Israeli Ministry of Health mandates that public restrooms should provide basic sanitation facilities, including toilet seats, to ensure the health and safety of users. Failure to comply with these standards can result in fines and penalties.

Accessibility Standards

In addition to legal requirements, public restrooms in Israel are expected to comply with accessibility standards that ensure equal access and use for people with disabilities. This includes providing toilet seats that are appropriate for people with different needs, such as raised or lowered seats, grab bars, and other assistive devices. By omitting toilet seats, public restrooms may be excluding a significant portion of the population from accessing basic sanitation services.

Design Preferences

The design of public restrooms in Israel may also contribute to the lack of toilet seats. Many public restrooms in Israel are designed for efficiency and functionality, rather than aesthetics or comfort. This means that the fixtures and equipment are chosen based on their practicality and durability, rather than their appearance or user-friendliness. Toilet seats may be seen as an unnecessary frill that detracts from the utilitarian nature of the restroom.

User Feedback

Despite the various reasons behind the absence of toilet seats in public restrooms in Israel, many users find it inconvenient, uncomfortable, and unhygienic. Tourists and visitors, in particular, are often surprised and dismayed by the lack of seats, which can create a negative impression of the country. Some users have taken matters into their own hands by bringing their own toilet seats or makeshift covers, while others have launched social media campaigns to raise awareness of the issue.

Public Perception

The public perception of the absence of toilet seats in public restrooms in Israel is mixed. Some people see it as a quirky or charming feature of the country’s culture, while others view it as a sign of backwardness or neglect. The lack of toilet seats has become a topic of debate and discussion in the media, with some experts calling for a change in policy and practice.


The absence of toilet seats in public restrooms in Israel is a complex issue that stems from historical, cultural, economic, maintenance, legal, accessibility, design, user, and public factors. While there are valid reasons for omitting toilet seats, such as hygiene concerns and cultural preferences, there are also drawbacks, such as accessibility challenges and negative user feedback. As Israel continues to modernize and develop its infrastructure, it may need to reconsider its approach to public restroom design and management, taking into account the needs and expectations of all users.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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