U.S. Issues Updated Travel Advisory for Israel, Gaza, and West Bank
The U.S Department of State warned Americans to “reconsider travel” to Israel.
The U.S. Department of State warned Americans to reconsider travel to Israel in an updated advisory on Thursday amid the ongoing conflict.
The warning was issued days after Hamas — labeled a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department — invaded Israel’s borders. Israel has since launched retaliatory rocket strikes and started preparing a possible ground assault on the Gaza Strip, The Associated Press reported, as Hamas continues to fire thousands of its own rockets into Israel.
The State Department also recommended Americans “do not travel” to the Gaza Strip and “reconsider travel” to the West Bank.
“The situation in Israel remains dynamic; mortar and rocket fire may take place without warning,” the State Department wrote in an updated advisory on Thursday. “Individuals should follow the instructions of security and emergency response officials.”
The State Department said U.S. citizens in Israel can contact the U.S. Embassy there by calling 03-519-7426. U.S. citizens outside of Israel hoping to get in contact with the embassy can either fill out a crisis intake form online or call 1-833-890-9595 or 1-606-641-0131.
The Israel Ministry of Tourism told Travel + Leisure in a statement it was “deeply saddened by the events that took place at our southern border with Gaza” and said it was “working to assist those who wish to depart from Israel.” Travelers in Israel were advised to dial 104 for information or contact the Home Front Command on WhatsApp or by SMS at +972 52 910 4104.
The State Department said travelers who decide to head to Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza should “maintain a high degree of situational awareness and exercise caution at all times,” and identify the “location of the nearest bomb shelter.” Travelers should also enroll in the department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and make it easier for the government to locate them in an emergency.
The State Department warning comes as several airlines and cruise lines have canceled flights and diverted ships away from Israel, including major U.S. carriers Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines. Several international airlines have also suspended flights, like Air France, British Airways, and the Lufthansa Group.
Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport remains open.