State Dept: Israel as Dangerous for Visit as Syria
As far as the U.S. State Department is concerned, Israel is as risky a place to visit at this time as is Syria – while Egypt, which just underwent a raucous election and an upheaval in the army (not to mention a major terror attack) is perfectly safe to visit.
That, at least, is the conclusion one would come to in a review of the latest travel warnings issued by the State Department. A travel warning was issued for Israel several weeks ago, because of, as the web site with the warning states, because of “long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country.”
Other countries on the list for which warnings were recently issued include Iraq, the Congo, the Central African Republic, Kenya, and Afghanistan. All of these countries are currently experiencing either protracted wars, armed militia activities fighting government forces, or multiple kidnappings of Westerners. No warning has been issued for Egypt.
The warning for Israel (which was lumped together with Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, along with Gaza) cites “rockets and mortars that are still fired into Israel from Gaza” as a reason to avoid southern Israel, and Israel's heightened state of alert since nearly 20 Egyptian soldiers were killed in a terror attack earlier this month. Interestingly, although the Sinai is currently under Egyptian control, the travel warning for Sinai appears under Israel's warning.
Regarding the “West Bank,” the warning actually says that violence there has “decreased markedly” due to enforcement of law and order by PA forces, as well as Israel. Nevertheless, it says, drivers could be attacked by rocks or Molotov cocktails and gunfire, and “demonstrations and violent incidents can occur without warning.”
Regarding Jerusalem, the warning “urges U.S. citizens to remain vigilant while traveling throughout Jerusalem, including in commercial and downtown areas of West Jerusalem,” although the details of the warning discuss the situation in Arab neighborhoods of the city, “including around Salah Ed-Din Street, Damascus Gate, Silwan, and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood,” and urges travelers to exercise caution, “especially after Friday prayers,” as “some of these protests have led to violent clashes.”
There was nothing in the warning regarding travel to Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Kinneret, the Dead Sea, Eilat, or many of the other places American tourists visit when they come here.