The US State Department raised its travel advisory for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza on Thursday due to ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas and ethnic riots in Israel.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon airlifted some 120 personnel out of the country.
The travel advisory had been lowered to a “Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution” as coronavirus cases have petered out, but has now been raised to a “Level 3 – Reconsider Travel.”
“Rockets continue to impact the Gaza periphery and areas across southern and central Israel, including Jerusalem,” the State Department noted.
“There has been a marked increase in protests and violence throughout Israel. Recent incidents of violence include vandalism, rock-throwing, burning of vehicles and attacks on passersby. Protests and violence may continue to occur, some with little or no warning,” the statement adds, in reference to ethnically motivated mob violence targeting Arab and Jewish bystanders across the country in recent days.
- “The Travel Advisory for Israel and the West Bank and Gaza currently recommends US citizens:
- Reconsider travel to Israel due to armed conflict and civil unrest, and exercise increased caution to Israel due to COVID-19, travel restrictions, and quarantine procedures instituted by the Government of Israel.
- Do not travel to the West Bank due to COVID-19, travel restrictions and quarantine procedures instituted by the Palestinian Authority.
- Do not travel to Gaza due to COVID-19, terrorism, civil unrest and armed conflict.”
Also Thursday, the US Defense Department said it has flown about 120 personnel out of Israel as a precaution in light of the ongoing violence there.
The American personnel departed on Thursday on a US Air Force C-17 transport plane, said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.
They had been in Israel to plan for a future bilateral exercise. Kirby said the conference was scheduled to end this week but the exit was accelerated by a few days.
There has been a dangerous escalation this week between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas militant rulers. Hamas sent a heavy barrage of rockets deep into Israel on Thursday as Israel pounded Gaza with more airstrikes and shells and called up 9,000 more reservists who could be used to stage a ground invasion.