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Well I hope you weren’t planning a summer trip to Israel, because the US State Department is now warning against all travel in that area, including: Israel, Gaza, and West Bank. They are also urging any US citizen in the area to depart as soon as possible. This warning replaces the warning issues in August of 2016.

There have been frequent, violent demonstrations and shootings, and collateral risks are high, as Gaza is under the control of Hamas, a terrorist organization.

U.S. Passports and International Travel posted these safety tips:

For your safety, the Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens:

  • Avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip, and if you are there, leave as soon as you are able;
  • Maintain a high degree of situational awareness and exercise caution at all times, especially at checkpoints and other areas with a significant presence of security forces;
  • Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings – which can turn violent – and steer clear of neighborhoods where police have restricted access;
  • Beware of and report unattended items or packages;
  • Follow the instructions of security and emergency officials;
  • Report suspicious activities or items to security officials; and
  • Learn the location of the nearest bomb shelter or other hardened shelter.

When planning their own travel, U.S. citizens should consider the following rules that apply to U.S. government employee travel:

  • U.S. government employees are not allowed to travel to Gaza;
  • With the exception of Jericho, Bethlehem, and along Routes 1, 443, and 90, U.S. government employees are prohibited from personal travel within the West Bank.  Restrictions on personal travel by U.S. government employees may change depending on the security environment;
  • All other U.S. government travel into the West Bank outside the aforementioned areas must be for official business and conducted with enhanced security measures;
  • U.S. government staff take additional security precautions when visiting refugee camps, West Bank universities, and “seam areas” where Israelis and Palestinians are in proximity to each other, and which have historically been flashpoints for violence.  For example, sites with significant religious meaning to multiple faiths can be subject to violent protests or security incidents with little or no warning, especially during or around significant religious holidays;
  • U.S. government employees are prohibited from personal travel into Jerusalem’s Old City on Fridays during the Muslim month of Ramadan.  The U.S. government occasionally restricts travel for its employees to the Old City based on the current security environment;
  • U.S. government employees are prohibited from using public buses and public bus terminals throughout Israel and the West Bank; and
  • U.S. government employees must observe additional security requirements  if traveling for any reason to the following locations:

o   within 7 miles of the Gaza demarcation line;

o   within 1.5 miles of the Lebanon border;

o   on or east of Route 98 in the Golan; and

o   within 1.5 miles of the Egypt border along the Sinai (including all portions of Route 10 and portions of Route 12).

So they are not banning travel to these areas, but for your own life safety, they are strongly urging to stay away.

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