The United States on Wednesday updated its travel advisory to Israel, warning that the security environment remains “complex” in Israel, Judea and Samaria, and Gaza.
“A rise in political tensions and violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank has resulted in injuries to and deaths of U.S. citizens,” the updated travel advisory says.
“The Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority both make considerable efforts to police major tourist attractions and ensure security in areas where foreigners frequently travel. Although these efforts to reduce the threat are not 100 percent effective, hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Israel and the West Bank each year for study, tourism, and business,” the advisory noted, adding the update replaces a previous travel warning issued February 18, 2015.
“The Department of State strongly warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Gaza Strip and urges those in Gaza to leave immediately when border crossings are open; U.S. government employees are not allowed to conduct official or personal travel to Gaza,” it says.
American citizens who plan to travel to the region are encouraged to avoid travel to Judea and Samaria, with the exception of Jericho and Bethlehem, avoid using public and inter-city buses (and associated bus terminals) throughout Israel and Judea and Samaria.
They are also encouraged to avoid visiting the areas within 7 miles of the Gaza demarcation line; within 1.5 miles of the Lebanon border; north and east of the Sea of Galilee; on or east of Route 98 in the Golan; and south of Be’er Sheva.
At the same time the advisory notes that personal safety conditions in major metropolitan areas of Israel, including Tel Aviv and Haifa and surrounding regions, are “comparable to other major global cities”.
“There is no indication that U.S. citizens have been specifically targeted based on their nationality, although perceived religious affiliation may have been a factor in some violent attacks on U.S. citizens,” it adds.
The State Department regularly issues travel advisories to Israel. An advisory from the United States Consulate in Jerusalem, which followed last years’s terrorist attack on a synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood, encouraged American citizens in the area to make themselves “harder targets” for terrorists.