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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

U.S. State Department issues warning not to travel to Israel

Warns Americans to leave Gaza immediately
AFP: WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States warned US citizens to avoid all travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories and renewed appeals for Americans to leave the Gaza Strip immediately, citing terrorist threats stemming from Israel's killing of two militant Palestinian leaders.

The State Department updated an existing March 23 travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza issued the day Israel assassinated Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin to include threats to avenge the April 17 killing of his successor, Abdelaziz Rantissi.

"In the aftermath of the killings of two Hamas leaders by Israel in less than a month, statements have been made by some Hamas elements and other terrorist groups threatening revenge against US interests, which could include kidnappings," it said in a statement.

"The Department of State warns US citizens to depart Gaza immediately and to defer travel to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza due to current safety and security concerns," it said.

Although the department said it had no indication that the threats would actually "be carried out at this time," it stressed that the security situation throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories remained highly unstable.