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State Department urges non-essential personnel to leave Israel

(The Hill) — The Biden administration released an updated travel advisory for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday as the ongoing conflict in the region persists.

The State Department authorized the departure of all “non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members for U.S. Embassy Jerusalem and U.S. Branch Office Tel Aviv.”

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“Terrorist groups, lone-actor terrorists and other violent extremists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza,” the advisory states. “Terrorists and violent extremists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.”

The updated guidance comes as Israel is expected to launch a ground offensive on the Gaza Strip, a region in which Palestinian militant group Hamas operates. Israeli officials gave Palestinians in the area just over 24 hours to evacuate — but the window following that warning has since closed.

Hamas led an invasion and surprise attack on Israel a week ago, killing thousands of Israelis and taking many hostage. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to retaliate until the hostages are returned.

So far, more than 1,900 people have been killed on both sides with thousands more injured— and that number includes at least 27 Americans.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby announced earlier this week that President Biden asked his team to ensure the government is assisting American citizens who want to leave.

The first charter flight was sent to Israel on Friday to bring back American citizens and immediate family members. Kirby said the government is also looking at sea travel options.

Americans who wish to depart the region using government assistance have to fill out a crisis intake form on the State Department website.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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