The United States encourages Israel to release terrorists from its prisons, then warns its citizens against traveling to the region.
The State Department on Monday strongly warned Americans against travel to Judea, Samaria and Gaza, citing violent clashes in the border area last month.
“The security environment remains complex in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, and U.S. citizens need to be aware of the continuing risks of travel to these areas,” the warning, quoted by The Los Angeles Times, said.
The statement came in the wake of the violence in Gaza last month, when Palestinian Arabs attacked Israeli soldiers with rocks and burning tires during a protest. The Israelis opened fire when the protesters entered a prohibited area, killing one of them and injuring another.
Meanwhile, the State Department warned U.S. travelers about the risk of “small arms fire, anti-tank weapons, rockets and mortars” being launched from Gaza toward Israel.
U.S. citizens should leave Gaza immediately, the warning said, noting that the area is under control of the terrorist organization Hamas.
The statement also warned about potential rocket attacks from Lebanon in northern Israel, street protests in Jerusalem and potential protests and ensuing violence in Judea and Samaria.
Americans should consider the following instructions for U.S. government employees in the region, the warning said: Personnel aren’t allowed to travel to Gaza and most parts of Judea and Samaria, and they must notify an embassy before traveling in areas around Gaza and south of Be’er Sheva as well as in the Golan Heights. Some personnel also are prohibited from using public buses anywhere in Israel due to the risk of bombings.
The warning issued Monday replaces one issued June 19, 2013, noted The Los Angeles Times.
Terror attacks in the region have increased in recent months, as peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have continued, according to statistics recently released by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet). A recent report illustrated how a recent rise in terrorist attacks is linked to the resumption of peace talks.
Nevertheless, Israel has released three batches of 26 terrorists as part of the talks, with a fourth batch forthcoming. The releases have been described as a “gesture” to the PA, and Israel agreed to them under pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
In December, as Israel released the third batch of 26 terrorists, Kerry expressed “his appreciation” for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to release the terrorists.