(Vladislav Gurfinkel/Shutterstock) (Vladislav Gurfinkel/Shutterstock)
(Vladislav Gurfinkel/Shutterstock)

Alluding to the 2014 synagogue massacre and Operation Protective Edge, the US State Department warns Americans about potential violence in Israel, without any specific reference to Islamic terrorism.

Masked Palestinians hold axes and a gun to celebrate the Jerusalem synagogue attack. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Masked Palestinians hold axes and a gun to celebrate the Jerusalem synagogue attack. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The State Department on Wednesday cautioned US citizens against visiting Jerusalem and its environs after violence there reached a level “not seen in those areas in a decade.” The updated “Travel Warning” mentioned the deaths of six US citizens in 2014, but emphasized that “hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens” safely visit Israel each year “for study, tourism, and business.”

In the section dealing with major metropolitan areas, the travel advisory warns, “The July-August 2014 Gaza conflict (see below) and subsequent political and religious tension associated with access to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem led to increased levels of violence…We have no indication that U.S. citizens have been specifically targeted based on their nationality, however U.S. citizens have been directly affected.”

Regarding Jerusalem in particular, the warning states:

“U.S. citizens visiting and living in Jerusalem should be aware of the numerous political, cultural, and religious tensions that permeate the city…Travelers should be aware that protest activities and violence have occurred across Jerusalem, including in West Jerusalem, within the Old City, and in East Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah, Shufat, Beit Hanina, Mt. of Olives, As Suwaneh, Abu Deis, Silwan, Shuafat Refugee Camp, Issawiyeh, and Tsur Baher. The intensity and number of these violent events, which have caused the deaths of bystanders, remained at high levels during October and November.”

Hamas rocket

Hamas terrorists show the M-75 home-made rocket in a military parade. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

“To date, the clashes and violence have not been anti-American in nature. However, politically motivated violence in Jerusalem claimed the lives of U.S. citizens in October and November 2014, including a terror attack inside a synagogue. Other U.S. citizens have also been injured in such attacks. Travelers are reminded to exercise caution at Muslim religious sites on Fridays and on holy days, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan.”

The travel warning also noted the potential for sudden conflict between Israel and her neighbors, including rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon, and advised travelers to be aware of the location of the closest bomb shelter or other secure location.

The State Department observed that both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority do their utmost to ensure the security of tourist attractions and other sites frequented by foreigners.