New State Dept. travel warning for Israel cites deaths of U.S. citizens


(JTA) — A new U.S. State Department travel warning for Israel cites recent injuries to and deaths of U.S. citizens.

The warning, updated Wednesday on the department’s website, states, “A rise in political tensions and violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank has resulted in injuries to and deaths of U.S. citizens.”

“We have no indication that U.S. citizens have been specifically targeted based on their nationality, however U.S. citizens have been directly affected. Six U.S. citizen residents of Israel and the West Bank were killed and others injured in multiple attacks in 2014,” according to the warning.

Among the U.S. citizens killed in recent months were Naftali Fraenkel, one of three teens kidnapped and killed by Palestinian terrorists in June; Chaya Zissel Braun, a 3-month-old killed in October when a Palestinian driver plowed into a crowd at a light rail station on Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem; and three rabbis killed in the terror attack in November on a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood.

Among the injured were Tariq Abu Khdeir, a Muslim teenager beaten by Israeli border police in July following the funeral of his cousin who was burned to death by Jewish extremists, and Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a Temple Mount activist who survived an assassination attempt in Jerusalem.

The warning recommends that U.S. citizens stay away from all demonstrations and reminds them that there is potential for military conflict between Hamas and Israel.

The warning reiterates that “U.S. government employees are prohibited from using public buses throughout Israel and the West Bank.”

The warning adds, however, “In view of the ongoing security situation, the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority make considerable efforts to police major tourist attractions and ensure security in areas where foreigners frequently travel. Although threat mitigation efforts by authorities are not 100 percent effective, hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Israel and the West Bank each year for study, tourism, and business. “

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