US urges citizens to ‘exercise increased caution’ while visiting Israel, West Bank

A new ranking system for travel advisories was launched yesterday by the U.S. State Department. According to the new rankings, Americans should “exercise increased caution” while in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Arriving in Israel Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash 90

The U.S. State Department rolled out its new system for issuing travel advisories to American citizens on Wednesday. The four-level system is supposed to make it easier for Americans to understand the risks involved in their travel plans.

The system ranks countries with a number that is associated with a specific color, replacing the previous travel warnings and alerts, which some travelers found hard to comprehend. “Sometimes our various documents were not readily understood,” said Michelle Bernier-Toth of the State Department’s bureau of consular affairs. “Personally, I was tired of explaining the difference between a travel warning and a travel alert, even to some of my colleagues.”

Most of the countries on the list are ranked in the lowest level of advisory, which means that Americans should “exercise normal precautions” while visiting. These states include Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Morocco and Switzerland. Israel, along with the UK, France, Indonesia, Jordan and others, is ranked in Level Two. The State Department wants Americans in Level Two countries to “exercise increased caution.”

The third level is for countries that American travels should avoid “due to serious risks to safety and security,” such as Cuba, Nigeria, Venezuela and Turkey. Among the states that the U.S. is advising its citizen not to travel to are Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and North Korea. “This is the highest advisory level due to [a] greater likelihood of life-threatening risks,” the State Department explained in a fact sheet. “During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance.”



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