US Removes Travel Warning on Israel
The U.S. State Department has finally corrected its singling out of Eilat, while omitting Aqaba, Jordan, as a dangerous place to visit. An original travel advisory ignored Aqaba, where one Jordanian was killed and three others wounded when terrorists fired six missiles towards Eilat from the Sinai Peninsula.
The U.S. travel advisory originally counseled visitors in southern Israel to learn the location of bomb shelters in the event of a rocket attack, but made no mention of a similar problem in Aqaba. Eilat rarely has been targeted by terrorists, who have added it to their list of targets over the past two years with three separate attacks.
Israel's Tourism Ministry immediately complained, and the travel warning was changed two days after U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley dismissed the complaint. He told reporters at the State Dept. daily briefing that travel advisories are "based on our best judgment of the assessment of risk wherever American citizens are traveling. So I would say that it's not our judgment that the risk is identical between the two locations."
The new advisory simply states that American tourists in southern Israel “should be aware of the risks and should follow the advice of the Government of Israel's office of Home Front Command."
The Tourism Ministry had complained that singling out Eilat, where no one was hurt, and omitting Aqaba, “gives a prize to terror and undermines regional stability and the sense of security that Israel gives to everyone who enters the country. Differentiating Israel from its neighbor that actually suffered loss of life is improper and lacks balance."