Australians urged to leave Israel, US embassy curbs movement amid Iran jitters

American diplomats, families restricted from travel outside Jerusalem, Beersheba, and Tel Aviv area; Canberra warns air travel could be stopped at short notice

Illustrative: A road sign shows the way towards the US embassy in Jerusalem on April 19, 2024. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)
Illustrative: A road sign shows the way towards the US embassy in Jerusalem on April 19, 2024. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)

Australia on Friday told its citizens to leave Israel and the Palestinian territories if possible, citing a “high threat of military reprisals and terrorist attacks,” as the United States embassy implored its employees and their families to restrict their movements after reports that Israel conducted a strike inside Iran.

Both governments had previously advised caution to their citizens during the war in Gaza, sparked by Hamas’s shock October 7 assault on southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed and over 250 taken hostage.

The warnings assumed a new urgency Friday following foreign media reports that Israel had struck inside Iran in retaliation to the Islamic Republic’s weekend drone and missile attack on Israel, itself a retaliation for an alleged Israeli strike on Iran’s embassy in Damascus, Syria, in which seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members were killed, including two generals.

“Out of an abundance of caution following reports that Israel conducted a retaliatory strike inside Iran, US government employees and their family members are restricted from personal travel outside the greater Tel Aviv” area as well as the Jerusalem and Beersheba areas “until further notice,” a security advisory issued by the US mission on its website said.

It added that due to a “complex” security environment that “can change quickly,” the embassy “may further restrict or prohibit” the concerned people from traveling to parts of Israel, Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank, the advisory read.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs issued a similar travel advisory update to “urge Australians in both Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories to depart if it’s safe to do so.”

Australia’s government had previously told citizens to avoid travel to both areas if possible and, if concerned, to leave.

“Military attacks may result in airspace closures, flight cancelations and diversions and other travel disruptions,” Australia’s diplomats said.

“Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport may pause operations due to heightened security concerns at any time, and at short notice.”

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