Israel, West Bank & Gaza

This item appears on page 18 of the May 2008 issue.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to remain mindful of security factors when considering travel to Israel at this time. It urges deferring travel to the West Bank and avoiding all travel to the Gaza Strip.

In recent months, extremist factions in the Gaza Strip have specifically targeted Palestinian Christian groups. Militants there have abducted Western citizens. The American International School in northern Gaza was the target of an attack on April 21, 2007, and again on Jan. 10 and 12, 2008.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad (both State Department-designated foreign terrorist organizations) have intensified the launching of daily rocket attacks against Israeli towns as far north as Ashkelon. The Israeli Defense Forces are responding to these attacks with military force.

In the West Bank, violent demonstrations, kidnappings and shootings can occur without warning. Israeli security operations can occur at any time, including frequent raids to arrest terrorist suspects that result in shootings, demonstrations and often violent conflict.