Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Travel Warning
Issued by U.S. Department of State
Oct 20, 2003
This Travel Warning is being updated to recommend that U.S. citizens depart
Gaza and to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing safety and security concerns in
Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. It supersedes the Travel Warning issued on
April 17, 2003.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to Israel, the
West Bank and Gaza. Ongoing violence has caused numerous civilian deaths
and injuries, including to some American tourists, students and residents,
as well as to U.S. Mission personnel. 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. In light of the lethal terrorist attack on U.S.
Mission personnel in Gaza on October 15, 2003, the Department of State
recommends that all U.S. citizens depart Gaza.
American citizens who remain in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza despite this
and earlier warnings are urged to continue to review their personal security
situations and to take those actions they deem appropriate to ensure their
well-being. Private Americans are encouraged to follow the precautions
detailed below and remain in close communication with the American Embassy
in Tel Aviv and the American Consulate General in Jerusalem for more
detailed information. American citizens residing in the West Bank and
Jerusalem should consider relocating to a safe location.
American citizens should avoid, to the extent possible, public places such
as restaurants and cafes, shopping and market 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 sites 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 and Gaza.
U.S. Government personnel in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza are
under tight security controls, including prohibition of non-official travel
to the West Bank and Gaza. Official travel to the West Bank and Gaza is
conducted only for specific mission needs, and under the auspices of U.S.
Government security personnel. Occasionally, U.S. Government personnel are
prohibited from traveling to sections of Jerusalem and parts of Israel,
depending on prevailing security conditions.
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. Americans have been killed, seriously injured, detained,
and deported as a result of encounters with Israeli Defense Forces
operations in Gaza and the West Bank. Due to the closures and fighting,
provision of medical and humanitarian care has been severely delayed in
In addition, dual Palestinian-American citizens may encounter difficulties,
or be barred from, entering and/or departing Israel, the West Bank and Gaza,
especially during times of Israeli closures. 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 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
Israeli military 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 Announcements. The most up-to-date information on
security conditions can also be accessed at http://www.usembassy-israel.org.il or