US Embassy Cuts Hours, Raises Alert Due to Rockets

Rocket attacks on Tel Aviv prompt warnings to US citizens; embassy staff advised to stay at home.

Tova Dvorin and Elad Benari ,

Israeli and American flags
Israeli and American flags
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The US embassy in Tel Aviv has minimized its hours and avised staff to stay at home until further notice due to recent rocket fire there, according to a statement released Tuesday night.

"As a result of the July 8 rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and the potential for further attacks, [the] U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv will operate at minimal staffing until further notice," the statement said.

"The Chief of Mission personnel will not be allowed to travel south of Tel Aviv without prior approval," it continued. "Embassy families living in Tel Aviv are being advised to remain at home and in close contact with one another."

The Embassy further advised US citizens to keep a close eye on updates on the Home Front Command's English website and to be familiar with current events. 

Earlier Wednesday morning, sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and across the Gush Dan area. At least five rockets were shot down over the city by the Iron Dome missile defense system. 

On Tuesday evening , a late-night salvo of rockets hit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and as far as Hadera, which is located 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Tel Aviv and south of Haifa.

The US strongly condemned the rocket fire late Tuesday, and expressed support for Israel's right to self-defense.

"We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire inside of Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.

"No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support Israel's right to defend itself against these vicious attacks." 

Earnest’s comments on Tuesday were made a day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and asked him to “act with restraint” in his response to Hamas's pounding of southern Israel.