Israel, The West Bank and Gaza Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Mar 17, 2003
This Travel Warning is being issued to alert U.S. citizens that the
Department of State has ordered all family members and non-emergency
personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General in
Jerusalem to depart the country. The decision to move to ordered departure
status is a result of an overall assessment of the security situation in the
region due to the threat of military action in Iraq. The Department of
State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Private American citizens currently in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are
strongly urged to depart immediately. This Travel Warning supersedes that
issued on February 7, 2003.
On March 16, the Department of State ordered all family members and
non-emergency personnel to depart the country as a result of a deteriorating
security situation in the region. U.S. consular personnel remain available
to provide emergency information and services to American citizens. Should
conditions dictate, some consular services for non-American citizens could
be restricted, for example, suspending all but emergency visa operations.
U.S. citizens who remain in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza despite this
travel warning are encouraged to register at the consular section of the
U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv or the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem and
enroll in the warden system (emergency alert network) in order to obtain
updated information on travel and security. Please note that although
commercial air service is currently available, there remains the possibility
of commercial flight disruptions should there be military action in Iraq.
In the event of military action in Iraq, there is a risk that Iraq or
terrorist organizations may use chemical and/or biological materials which
could affect the region. Americans in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
should exercise caution and take prudent measures to maintain their
security. They are encouraged to become familiar with and follow emergency
procedures described by the Israeli Home Front Command. These can be found
in English at http://idf.il/homefront/english/ie-welcome.stmtt.
Other measures include being vigilantly aware of your surroundings, avoiding
crowds and demonstrations, keeping a low profile, varying times and routes
for all required travel, and ensuring travel documents are current.
American citizens residing in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem should
consider relocating to a safe location.
Ongoing violence has caused numerous civilian deaths and injuries, including
to some American tourists, students and residents. The potential for
further terrorist acts remains high. The situation in Israel, Jerusalem,
Gaza and the West Bank remains extremely volatile with continuing terrorist
attacks, confrontations and clashes.
U.S. Government personnel in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza are
under tight security controls, including prohibition of travel to the West
Bank and Gaza. Occasionally, U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from
traveling to sections of Jerusalem and parts of Israel, depending on
prevailing security conditions.
American citizens in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza should avoid
locations such as restaurants and cafes, shopping areas and malls,
pedestrian zones, public buses and bus stops or other crowded venues and the
areas around them. Americans should also avoid large crowds and
demonstrations. Roads designed for Israeli settlers, including in East
Jerusalem, have been the site of frequent shooting attacks and roadside
explosives, sometimes resulting in death or injury. U.S. Embassy and
Consulate employees and their families have been prohibited from using
public buses throughout Israel, the Jerusalem municipality, the West Bank
As a result of ongoing military activity in the West Bank and Gaza, sections
of those areas have been declared closed military zones. The Government of
Israel may deny entry at Ben Gurion Airport or at a land border to persons
it believes might travel to "closed" areas in the West Bank or Gaza or to
persons the Israeli authorities believe may sympathize with the Palestinian
cause and are seeking to meet with Palestinian officials. Closed areas in
the West Bank and Gaza have been subject to intense shelling and firing. In
some instances, Americans have been wounded and their property damaged.
Major cities in the West Bank are often placed under Israeli military
curfew. All persons in areas under curfew should remain indoors or risk
arrest or injury. Because of the closures and fighting, provision of
medical and humanitarian care has been severely delayed in those areas. In
addition, dual Palestinian-American citizens may encounter difficulties
entering and/or departing Israel, the West Bank and Gaza during times of
Israeli closures. For example, from January to March 2003, the Israeli
government banned the departure via the Allenby Bridge, Rafah, Erez and Taba
border crossings of all Palestinian ID holders under the age of 35. The ban
applied to all travelers regardless of gender or any other foreign
citizenship, including American citizenship. Americans who hold Palestinian
ID numbers should consult the Embassy or Consulate for the most recent
information before attempting to cross relevant borders. These restrictions
can change frequently and without any advance notice.
During times when the closures and curfews are lifted, in order to depart
Israel via Ben Gurion Airport, Palestinian-Americans must apply for an
Israeli transit permit. Except in humanitarian or special interest cases,
Israeli authorities are unlikely to issue this permit. In this event, and
notwithstanding the new restrictions mentioned above, travelers must depart
via land crossings and may experience lengthy delays. All travelers who
enter or travel in Gaza or the West Bank should expect delays and
difficulties at checkpoints located throughout those areas, and should
exercise particular care when approaching and traveling through checkpoints.
Travelers should also be aware they might not be allowed passage through the
From time to time, the Embassy and Consulate General may temporarily suspend
public services to review their security posture. Travel restrictions on
official travel into the West Bank and Gaza impair the Embassy's and
Consulate General's ability to render emergency services to American
citizens in the West Bank and Gaza. U.S. citizens who require emergency
services may telephone the Consulate General in Jerusalem at (972) (2)
622-7230 or the Embassy in Tel Aviv at (972) (3) 519-7355.
For further information on travel to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, please
consult the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet for
Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, the Worldwide Caution and Middle East and
North Africa Public Announcement. The most up-to-date information on
security conditions can also be accessed at www.usembassy-israel.org.il or