As Iran-Israel Tensions Boil Over: U.S. Government Enforces Drastic Travel Limits

By Jennifer Wentworth | Saturday, 13 April 2024 08:30 AM
Views 2.1K

In a move reflecting escalating tensions in the Middle East, the U.S. State Department has imposed travel restrictions on government employees and their families in Israel, confining them to major cities.

This decision comes amid growing fears of a potential Iranian attack in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike that obliterated the Iranian consulate in Syria.

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued a statement on its website, cautioning, "Out of an abundance of caution, U.S. government employees and their family members are restricted from personal travel outside the greater Tel Aviv (including Herzliya, Netanya, and Even Yehuda), Jerusalem, and Be’er Sheva areas until further notice." The statement also underscored the volatile security environment, which it said "remains complex and can change quickly depending on the political situation and recent events."

Earlier this week, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to retaliate against Israel for the airstrike that decimated Iran's consulate in Syria. Khamenei declared that Israel "will be punished" for the attack in Damascus, which resulted in the death of several Iranian generals. He characterized the strike as "wrongdoing" and equated it to an assault on Iran itself.

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When questioned about the updated U.S. travel advisory, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller acknowledged the recent public threats from Iran against Israel. He stated, "Israel's in a very tough neighborhood and have been monitoring the security situation. You saw us slightly adjust our travel warnings at the beginning of this conflict. And we conduct ongoing assessments all the time about the situation on the ground."

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Miller refrained from detailing the specific assessments that led to the travel restrictions but emphasized the U.S.'s vigilance in monitoring the threat environment in the Middle East, particularly in Israel. He said, "And that's what led us to give that warning our employees and their family members and to make it public so all U.S. citizens who either live in Israel or are traveling there are aware of it."

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In a related development, U.S. Central Command Gen. Michael Kurilla met with Israel Defense Forces Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen Hezi Halevi in Israel on Thursday. Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed that Kurilla's visit, originally scheduled for a later date, was expedited due to the threats from Iran against Israel.

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