The U.S. Department of State has updated its travel warning on Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The warning includes comments about Israel’s deadly attack in international waters on the Freedom Flotilla, saying attempts to enter Gaza by sea have resulted in violence, injury and death.
The State Department strongly urges that U.S. citizens refrain from all travel to the Gaza Strip. This recommendation applies to all U.S. citizens, including journalists and aid workers. U.S. citizens should be aware that as a consequence of a longstanding prohibition on travel by U.S. government employees into the Gaza Strip, the ability of consular staff to offer timely assistance to U.S. citizens there is extremely limited.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strictly controls the crossing points between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and has essentially sealed the border. The security environment within Gaza and along its borders, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. From December 27, 2008, through January 17, 2009, the IDF conducted a major military operation in Gaza. Israel and Hamas, a State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization that violently seized power in Gaza in June 2007, declared separate truces to end the fighting. Occasional small clashes continue to occur along the border. Rockets and mortars are still occasionally fired into Israel from Gaza, and the IDF continues to conduct military operations inside Gaza, including airstrikes. The IDF has also declared an exclusion zone inside Gaza along the border with Israel and has taken lethal measures against individuals who enter it.
On the West Bank, the State Department urges American citizens to use extreme caution while traveling there as Israeli military incursions can happen at any time.
The IDF continues to carry out security operations in the West Bank. Israeli security operations, including incursions into Palestinian population centers, can occur at any time and lead to disturbances and violence. U.S. citizens can be caught in the middle of potentially dangerous situations. Some U.S. citizens involved in demonstrations in the West Bank have sustained serious injuries in confrontations with Israeli settlers and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). … U.S. citizens have been killed, seriously injured, or detained and deported as a result of encounters with IDF operations in Gaza and the West Bank.
The clear question here is this: When the U.S. State Department decisively state the danger Israel, its military and pro-occupation policies pose to American citizens, when then when it comes to negotiating the ‘peace process’ it is always the Palestinians who are called upon to stop violence?
The U.S. government, under the auspices of the State Department, precisely states in this travel warning that interaction with Israeli military forces and/or illegal Zionist colonial settlers may result in the serious injury or death of U.S. citizens. It is inconceivable that these facts – laid bare here for anyone who cares to read them – never make their way to the mainstream media or into the halls of Congress, where the majority of lawmakers are only too happy to keep pro-occupation lobbyists sated by consistently supporting Israel in all its murderous and illegal actions while lining their pockets with tainted donations.
And while lawmakers continue to turn a blind eye to the harm that may befall an American citizens at the hands of Israel, is it any wonder they do so little to restore human rights and dignity to the occupied Palestinian people?
We must continue to bring pressure to bear upon our elected officials that these double standards are unacceptable and intolerable. We must continue to demand that the U.S. stop using our hard-earned money to pay for Israel’s illegal, unjust and inhumane occupation of the Palestinian people.
~ Kristin Szremski 6/21/2010