The U.S. State Department is cautioning U.S. citizens in Israel that “mortar and rocket fire may take place without warning” after a surprise Hamas attack on Saturday led the Israeli government to declare war. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that strikes in the Gaza Strip would not let up.
Nearly 1,600 people have been killed on both sides of the conflict so far, the Associated Press reported, including nine Americans.
In the wake of the upheaval, numerous flights to and from Israel have been suspended.
“We operated two scheduled flights out of Tel Aviv late Saturday and early Sunday and accommodated our customers, crews, and employee travelers who were at the airport. Our Tel Aviv flights will remain suspended until conditions allow them to resume,” United Airlines said in a statement sent to AFAR.
United has also issued a travel waiver for flights to and from Amman, Jordan, through October 14.
Delta Air Lines has canceled all flights to Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) in Tel Aviv, Israel, through October 31, the carrier told AFAR. “Our hearts are with those who are impacted as our people work to find safe alternatives for customers trying to depart [Tel Aviv],” Delta said, adding that it “will continue to explore options for customers to safely exit [Tel Aviv] via seats that become available on our partner airlines.”
American Airlines told AFAR in a statement that it, too, has temporarily suspended operations to and from Tel Aviv, and has issued a travel alert. “We continue to monitor the situation with safety and security top of mind and will adjust our operation as needed,” the airline said.
Several international carriers have also suspended their Tel Aviv service, including Air France, KLM, and Lufthansa. As of press time, British Airways was continuing to operate flights to Israel while closely monitoring the situation. Israeli carrier El Al was also carrying out all flights as scheduled.
While the Ben Gurion International Airport currently remains open, the U.S. Embassy in Israel is telling U.S. citizens to check with airlines on the availability of flights as well as with the airport itself.
Security risk management firm Crisis 24 advises travelers to reconsider any nonessential trips to Israel and the Palestinian Territories “until the situation stabilizes, particularly to central and southern Israel,” the company stated in a security alert.
“Fighting will almost certainly continue in Israel and over the Israel–Gaza border between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants over the coming days after Palestinian militants, led by Hamas, launched a surprise land, air, and sea attack on Israel early October 7,” Crisis 24 stated in the alert.
Tour operators with land journeys in the region and cruise lines with port calls in Israel have been canceling or altering those departures as well. Global tour operator Intrepid issued a travel advisory informing customers that all tours in Israel and the Palestinian Territories through October 31 have been canceled. G Adventures has canceled all of its Israel tours through October 15.
“We wish for the safety of all the souls affected and a rapid return of peace to the country,” Celestyal CEO Chris Theophilides said in a statement. Celestyal has decided to remove Israel from its seven-night Three Continents itinerary until the end of November.
Global Rescue, a travel risk company that provides emergency evacuations, reports that it is working to help bring members and other citizens to safety, as travelers attempt to evacuate the region.
In its latest update, the U.S. Embassy in Israel stated that it will continue to closely monitor the situation. “There are active military operations in the Gaza periphery and Gaza, as well as rocket and mortar fire in the Gaza periphery,” the embassy noted. The Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza is closed until further notice, according to the embassy, which stated that “U.S. citizens in Gaza who wish to leave and can do so safely are advised to check the status of the Rafah crossing into Egypt.”
U.S. embassy personnel have been urged to adhere to a curfew between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily and have been advised to stay as close to home as possible.
“U.S. citizens are reminded to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as security incidents, including mortar and rocket fire, often take place without warning,” the embassy stated.
In the event of mortar or rocket fire, a “red alert” siren is often activated, which means that citizens should “seek shelter immediately,” the embassy noted, adding that U.S. citizens in Israel should know the location of their closest shelter.
“If there is no shelter nearby, stay indoors and away from windows and exterior walls. If possible, move to a ground floor or basement,” Crisis 24 advises.
The risk management firm reports that in addition to the Gaza Strip, fighting is taking place between Israel and Gaza militants in several communities in southern Israel near the Israel-Gaza border, including Tel Aviv, Sderot, Bat Yam, Rishon LeZion, and Yavne.