US reissues travel warning for Israel, West Bank, and Gaza
A muslim woman takes a selfie picture in front of a Christian manger on December 16, 2015. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
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Citing a "complex" security environment, the US State Department re-issued a travel warning Wednesday night for its citizens planning to travel throughout Israel, Jerusalem in particular. It also urged US citizens and diplomatic personnel to avoid the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and certain areas in the West Bank.
"The security environment remains complex in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza," the State Department said. "US citizens need to be aware of the continuing risks of travel to areas...where there are heightened tensions and security risks."
The Department said that even though Israel and the Palestinian Authority take precautions to secure popular tourist sites, "these efforts are not 100 percent effective."
American citizens who are in Gaza were urged to leave as soon as possible and reminded US government employees that they are not allowed to travel to the Strip for neither business nor personal reasons.
Government employees are also forbidden, according to the guidelines, from taking public transportation and need prior approval to travel near the Sea of Galilee, on Highway 98 in the Golan Heights and anywhere south of Beersheba
The advisory replaces prior guidelines that were issued on February 18, according to the statement.
Last month, Ezra Schwartz, a Massachusetts native, was killed in an attack by a Palestinian gunman in the Gush Etzion cluster of Jewish settlements between Jerusalem and Hebron.
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