WASHINGTON (Mar. 27)
The State Department Friday issued a strong travel advisory warning U.S. citizens against visiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip “due to continuing disturbances.”
“If travel to the West Bank is unavoidable, travelers should consult with the consul general in Jerusalem and in the case of travel to Gaza, should consult with the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv,” the State Department said in a formal statement.
The advisory also warned U.S. citizens traveling in the territories to carry their passports at all times, and that “under all circumstances Americans should avoid demonstrations and other situations that have the potential to lead to violence.”
Donna Sherman, spokeswoman for the department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, said that a more mild travel advisory had been in effect for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but was upgraded because the situation is now clearly “ongoing.”
State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said “American travellers should avoid going to these areas.” She said there was no particular event that triggered the action.
A previous travel advisory for East Jerusalem, including the Old City, has been in effect since 1982. It urges U.S. citizens to check with the Jerusalem Consulate before going to East Jerusalem.
The advisory was issued on the eve of Palm Sunday and Easter observances, when many American Christians visit religious sites on the West Bank.
Oakley stressed, though, that “we are not issuing a travel advisory for Israel itself. Israel is safe for American travel.”