U.S. issues Israel travel warning in wake of Eilat rocket attack
State Department also implores citizens to adhere to travel ban to Gaza Strip and avoid West Bank demonstrations.
The United States issued a travel warning to Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Thursday, citing additional precautions as a result of a recent rocket attack on Eilat and the Jordanian port city of Aqaba.
On Monday, a Jordanian citizen was killed and five others wounded when a volley of Grad-type Katyusha rockets fired from Sinai at Eilat overshot the Israeli city and struck hotels at the Jordanian city of Aqaba.
One rocket hit fields north of Eilat and another is believed to have landed in the sea. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack but defense analysts believe Bedouin gangs operating in Sinai or the Global Jihad group are behind the attack.
Taking these new developments into account, the U.S. State Department issued a revised travel warning to Israel, saying that "U.S. citizens in Eilat and southern Israel are advised to ascertain the location of the nearest bomb shelter."
"In the past, some rockets have travelled more than 40 km from Gaza and landed as far north as Yavne and Gadera and as far east as Be'er Sheva," the travel warning said, adding that American officials must seek approval before travelling near the Strip "as a result "of possible IDF military operations in Gaza and the ever-present risk of rocket and mortar attacks into Israel from Gaza."
The State Department statement also reiterated the longstanding travel ban to Gaza, saying the recommendation applies to all U.S. citizens, including journalists and aid workers.
"The IDF has also declared an exclusion zone inside Gaza along the border with Israel and has taken lethal measures against individuals who enter it," the statement added.
In respect to the West Bank, the travel warning stipulated "U.S. citizens to exercise caution when traveling to the West Bank," saying that although violence there has decreased in recent years, "demonstrations and violent incidents can occur without warning."
"Some U.S. citizens involved in demonstrations in the West Bank have sustained serious injuries in confrontations with Israeli settlers and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)," the statement added, saying that the "State Department recommends that U.S. citizens, for their own safety, avoid demonstrations."
Last May, the British Foreign Office issued a travel advisory to citizens traveling to Israel and the Palestinian territories, hours after it decided to expel an Israeli diplomat over the use of forged British passports used by the killers of a Hamas commander in Dubai.