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.

Mary.Forgione@latimes.com

Follow us on Twitter @latimestravel, like us on Facebook @Los Angeles Times Travel.

Top 10 travel scams to look out for

“Remember the days when a fanny pack and a “game face” could protect you from getting your money stolen? We don’t either! Vacationers have always been targets for smart, enterprising crooks, and the farther you get from home, the easier it is to fall for popular vacation scams like the dropped baby, the fake fight, and the I-need-five-euros-to-replace-my-lost-train-ticket. But these days, you are at risk for more than just some lost bills. Watch out for these scams from around the world that can put your personal safety–and even your very identity–at risk.”

 

Top travel destinations for 2014

In its quest for value destinations, deals website Travelzoo lists five locales, including the Jersey Shore and Palm Springs, Calif. With top 10 countries, cities, regions and more, there’s hardly a spot on the globe that Lonely Planet doesn’t mention. And BuzzFeed’s 22 “stunning under-the-radar destinations” directs us to a single U.S. gem: Ohio’s woodsy Hocking Hills.

 

Mark Kahler on the pros and cons of travel insurance

Insurance probably isn’t the first thing a traveler thinks about when planning a vacation. But when a cruise ship is stuck in the Gulf of Mexico or a volcano erupts in Europe, travel insurance may start to seem like a good idea. We asked Mark Kahler, the budget travel guide at About.com, about the pros and cons of purchasing insurance before a trip.

 

Save enough to make your travel dreams come true

Tips for stress-free family holiday travel

Along with seeing friends and family, the holidays mean crowded airports and packed roads. The American Automobile Association predicts that 43.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from their homes to celebrate this Thanksgiving.

 Article Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/dispatches/2013/11/25/family-holiday-travel-stress-tips-advice/3667461/