The U.S. Department of State has advised all U.S. citizens traveling overseas to “exercise increased caution” due to rising global tensions spawned by the huge Hamas terror invasion of Israel and the resulting Israel-Hamas war, the department said in a travel advisory issued Thursday.
“Due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution,” the State Department said in a “Worldwide Caution” alert.
The department suggested if traveling abroad, you should “stay alert in locations frequented by tourists.” It also suggested U.S. travelers should enroll in the department’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” to receive information and alerts as well as make it easier to locate you in the event of an emergency overseas.
“We are constantly assessing the safety of the situation on the ground, so we can give appropriate travel warnings and appropriate guidance to American citizens,” State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a news conference late Thursday.
The last time the State Department issued a warning was in August 2022 after a counterterrorism strike in Afghanistan killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to ABC News.
The State Department warning comes as tensions are escalating around the globe. Earlier this week, the department also raised its travel alert for Lebanon, telling U.S. citizens to “Do Not Travel” there because of the frequent missile, artillery, and small arms skirmishes between troops of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah terrorists on Israel’s northern border.
Those already in the country should make appropriate arrangements to leave or at least make contingency plans for emergency situations, U.S. officials said.
Hundreds of protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces on Wednesday near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, where riot police lobbed dozens of tear gas canisters and fired water cannons to disperse demonstrators.
Protests have also been held in Morocco and Bahrain, two countries that forged diplomatic ties with Israel three years ago as part of the Abraham Accords.
US Drops Visa Requirement for Israelis
As Israelis are facing war, the U.S. is dropping the visa requirement from Israel. On Thursday, the U.S. launched a visa waiver program allowing Israelis wishing to visit the United States for 90 days or less to come without applying for a visa.
The U.S. had previously announced on Sept. 27 that it was admitting Israel into the visa waiver program, adding the country to a select group of 40 mostly European and Asian countries whose citizens can travel to the U.S. for three months without visas.
At the time, the U.S. said Israelis could start traveling to the United States without visas as of Nov. 30. In a news release, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the program timeline had been escalated, stating it became operational as of Thursday.
Meanwhile, the DHS said in a separate statement Thursday that due to the Israel-Hamas conflict, it has seen an increase in the reports of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and institutions in the U.S.
“Lone offenders, motivated by a range of violent ideologies, pose the most likely threat,” the DHS warned. “We urge the public to stay vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.”
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