Get out of Gaza now, US citizens told in updated travel warning

Get out of Gaza now, US citizens told in updated travel warning

(JTA) — The State Department updated its warning for U.S. citizens on travel to the Gaza Strip and urged those in the coastal strip now “to depart as soon as possible when border crossings are open.”

The warning issued Tuesday comes after the Israel Defense Forces on Sunday night and Monday morning carried out dozens of air and artillery strikes on Gaza following a rocket attack from the strip on Sderot in southern Israel. The attack, which struck a residential neighborhood near the city’s train station and Sapir College, caused no casualties.

“Gaza is under the control of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile,” the warning states. “Violent demonstrations and shootings occur on a frequent basis and the collateral risks are high. While Israel and Hamas continue to observe the temporary cease-fire that ended the Gaza conflict in 2014, sporadic mortar or rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military response continue to occur.”

The warning also pointed out: “Within Israel and the West Bank, a rise in political and religious tension beginning in October 2015 led to a spike in violence in which U.S. citizens were killed and wounded.” There is no indication that U.S. citizens were targeted, the statement adds.

“While the frequency of attacks has abated significantly since April 2016, the possibility of random violence continues to exist and can happen without warning,” the State Department said.

The warning, which replaces one from Dec. 15, points out that U.S. government employees are not allowed to travel to Gaza and are prohibited from personal travel in the West Bank.

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