State Department issues travel warning for Israel, Gaza, West Bank

The State Department on Monday strongly warned Americans against travel to the West Bank and Gaza after violent clashes in the border area last month played out amid current peace talks.

“The security environment remains complex in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, and U.S. citizens need to be aware of the continuing risks of travel to these areas,” the warning said.

The statement comes after violence erupted in the Gaza Strip last month when Palestinians attacked Israeli soldiers with rocks and burning tires during a protest. The Israelis later opened fire, killing one protester and injuring another. 

The cross-border conflicts came during peace talks between Palestinians and Israel that began in July. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week and plans to soon present a framework agreement for peace in the Middle East. 

Meanwhile, the State Department warned U.S. travelers about the risk of “small arms fire, anti-tank weapons, rockets and mortars” being launched from Gaza toward Israel. U.S. citizens should leave Gaza immediately, the warning said, noting that the area is under control of the terrorist organization Hamas.

It also warned about potential rocket attacks from Lebanon in northern Israel, street protests in Jerusalem and potential protests and ensuing violence in the West Bank.

Americans should consider the following instructions for U.S. government employees in the region, the warning said: Personnel aren’t allowed to travel to Gaza and most parts of the West Bank, and they must notify an embassy before traveling in areas around Gaza and south of Beersheva as well as in the Golan Heights. Some personnel also are prohibited from using public buses anywhere in Israel due to the risk of bombings.

The warning issued Monday replaces one issued June 19, 2013.

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