U.S. issues new travel warning for Israel

Americans are advised against non-essential travel to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, given the ongoing conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas.
By JC Finley  |  July 22, 2014 at 10:35 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of State announced an updated travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza on Tuesday, in light of the ongoing airstrikes between Israeli forces and Hamas.

"The security environment remains complex in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, and U.S. citizens need to be aware of the risks of travel to these areas because of the current conflict between Hamas and Israel," the warning reads.

American tourists are advised to stay away from the conflict area.

"The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens consider the deferral of non-essential travel to Israel and the West Bank and reaffirms the longstanding strong warning to U.S. citizens against any travel to the Gaza Strip."

For U.S. citizens who are in the West Bank and Israel, the State Department suggests they "familiarize themselves with the location of the nearest bomb shelter or other hardened site, if available ... seek information on shelters from hotel staff or building managers."

Israel and Hamas have been engaged in a deadly exchange of airstrikes for more than two weeks. Since Israel announced a ground operation last week, the Health Ministry in Gaza reported 583 Palestinian deaths, and the Israeli military reported 27 soldiers killed and two civilians.

Secretary of State John Kerry, while acknowledging Israel's right to self-defense, questioned the proportionality of the casualties on Tuesday. Israel has agreed to an Egyptian cease-fire proposal. Kerry is urging Hamas to accept the cease-fire.

On Tuesday, the U.S. announced $47 million in aid for Gaza.

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