On Thursday, October 19, the US State Department issued a worldwide travel advisory, urging American citizens to exercise increased caution while overseas. This advisory is in response to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests.
This alert coincides with the ongoing escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East. Protests around the world have also led to violent clashes at U.S. diplomatic compounds in some instances. Demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, demanding an end to Israel’s airstrikes and blockade, have occurred globally.
For those currently traveling or planning trips, the advisory does not recommend canceling travel plans altogether. However, it strongly advises being cautious while in unfamiliar environments. Here are some key recommendations:
1. Be alert in airports and other public places.
2. Avoid heavily crowded tourist destinations.
3. Stay vigilant and refrain from being engrossed in your phone.
4. Sign up for the State Department’s STEP program for location-based alerts and to let the State Department know your whereabouts.
5. Keep friends and family informed of your travel plans.
The last similar advisory was issued on August 2, 2022, due to a heightened potential for anti-American violence following the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda leader.
Travel advisories vary by country. Lebanon is currently at “Level 4: Do not travel,” and Israel and the West Bank are at “Level 3: Reconsider travel.” Jordan and Egypt, which share borders with Israel, are at Levels 2 and 3, respectively.
When making decisions about your travel plans, consider factors such as the relative risk of your destination, your personal risk tolerance, access to consulate services, and your personal safety network. Seek advice from friends and family in the area for staying safe and informed about local developments.
Traveling requires preparedness, so ensure you are ready to navigate any situation that may arise, no matter where your journey takes you. Stay safe and stay informed.