By Palestine Chronicle Staff
The U.S. State Department has issued a statement warning US citizens not to travel to the Gaza Strip and to avoid areas in the West Bank where demonstrations occur.
The statement read, “The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Gaza Strip and urges those present to depart as soon as possible when border crossings are open.”
U.S. calls on Americans to leave Gaza "as soon as possible" https://t.co/ze9bspFNw6
— Newsweek INT. (@Newsweek_INT) August 24, 2016
The State Department added, “U.S. citizens should exercise caution and remain aware of their surroundings when traveling to areas where there are heightened tensions and security risks.”
The statement further described the situation in Gaza as dangerous and volatile, noting, “Gaza is under the control of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile. Violent demonstrations and shootings occur on a frequent basis and the collateral risks are high.”
In the West Bank, the statement explained, tensions are high and violence has resulted in the death of some US citizens. “Within Israel and the West Bank, a rise in political and religious tension beginning in October 2015 led to a spike in violence in which U.S. citizens were killed and wounded,” it said.
It further warned its nationals within Gaza and the West Bank to “Maintain a high degree of situational awareness and exercise caution at all times; Avoid demonstrations – which can turn violent – and steer clear of neighborhoods where police have restricted access.”
The US State Department previously issued two similar statements prior to the 2012, and 2014 offensive on Gaza. Statements such as these act as a warning to Palestinians in that a fourth offensive might occur sooner than expected.