US Has Eye on Eilat, not Aqaba

Israel wants to know why a US travel advisory cites Eilat but not neighboring Aqaba, which has suffered more than Eilat from recent rocket attacks.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 11:55

US State Dept.
US State Dept.
Israel news photo

Israel wants to know why the U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory for Eilat, but not for neighboring Aqaba, when in fact both locations have suffered from rocket attacks.

Twice in the past four months, and most recently last week, rockets have been fired towards the adjacent port cities of Eilat, Israel and Aqaba, Jordan. While it appears clear that Eilat was the target, at least one rocket hit Aqaba in both incidents – and a Jordanian was even killed in last week’s attack. In April, two or three rockets targeted Eilat, but all landed in Aqaba instead, causing damage but no casualties.

Despite this, the State Department warns American visitors to Eilat to make sure they "ascertain the location of the nearest bomb shelter." Though a previous version of the warning, issued immediately after the latest attack, warned visitors against travel to Aqaba altogether for the ensuing 48 hours, no warning is currently in effect for Aqaba.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov requested a meeting with U.S. Ambassador in Israel James Cunningham to register his protest at the double standard. Cunningham is out of the country, however.

“This advisory gives a prize to terror,” a Tourism Ministry statement declares, “and undermines regional stability, as well as the sense of security that Israel gives to everyone who enters the country. Differentiating Israel from its neighbor, which actually suffered loss of life, is improper and lacks balance.”

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who was asked about the apparent double standard at a Monday press conference, answered blandly that that the advisories are "based on our best judgment of the assessment of risk wherever American citizens are traveling… I would say that it's not our judgment that the risk is identical between the two locations."