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The US has revamped its travel guidance for Israel and Gaza in response to escalating conflicts.
The State Department’s updated travel advisory emphasized the risks by stating, “Terrorist groups, lone-actor terrorists and other violent extremists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.” It added that these threats may manifest unexpectedly and could target “tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.” In light of these concerns, the Department has authorized the departure of “non-emergency US government personnel and eligible family members for US Embassy Jerusalem and US Branch Office Tel Aviv.”
Addressing the safety of US citizens, John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, confirmed President Biden’s directive to assist Americans wishing to exit the region.
The US government dispatched a charter flight to Israel on Friday for this purpose, with more options being explored, including sea travel. Americans seeking this assistance are required to complete a crisis intake form available on the State Department’s website.
Amid these advisories, there’s heightened anticipation of Israel initiating a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, which is under Hamas’s control. Tensions grew after Hamas launched an unexpected assault on Israel last week, causing thousands of casualties and taking hostages. Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, has pledged to respond until the hostages are safe. Current reports suggest a death toll surpassing 1,900, including 27 Americans.