The US embassy in Israel issued a security alert to American citizens, warning that Palestinian terrorists could choose to carry out attacks in Israel and the West Bank over the coming days.
“May 14, 2019, is the anniversary of the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem, as well as related protests along the Gaza periphery,” the embassy said in an email sent Monday to citizens in Israel that was also posted on its website. “Terrorist groups may choose the anniversary, which coincides with the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv (May 14-18), or Nakba Day (May 15), to conduct violent protests or an attack.”
Palestinian factions in Gaza are mobilizing a mass march toward the Israeli border fence on May 15, when Palestinians mark the “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation in 1948.
Last year’s Nakba Day protests in Gaza, following the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, led to the deaths of over 60 Palestinians by Israeli fire, including 50 Hamas members. Eight of the dead were killed in a cross-border gun-battle. Israel said it was defending its border and accused Hamas terrorists of using the crowds as cover for attacks.
This year, the tense day coincides with the Eurovision Song Contest, hosted in Israel this year after singer Netta Barzilai won last year’s contest with her song “Toy.” The first semifinal is on Tuesday evening, the second on Thursday and the final on Saturday.
The US embassy statement stressed that “security incidents can occur well beyond Gaza and its periphery and at any time.”
It cited as examples a two-day flareup earlier this month that saw the most intense fighting in and around Gaza since the 2014 war — in which terrorists fired almost 700 rocket into Israel — as well as two isolated rocket attacks on Tel Aviv on March 14 and March 25, which Palestinians claimed were triggered accidentally.
“US citizens are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” the embassy said, urging US nationals to avoid demonstrations, follow Israel authorities’ instructions and be aware of the location of the nearest shelter.