US urges Amer­i­cans to leave Gaza ‘as soon as pos­si­ble’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

WASH­ING­TON — The United States on Tues­day re­it­er­ated its rec­om­men­da­tion that Amer­i­cans in Gaza leave the ter­ri­tory con­trolled by Ha­mas, which Wash­ing­ton calls a ter­ror­ist group, “as soon as pos­si­ble.”

The warn­ing came af­ter the Is­raeli army said it bombed dozens of tar­gets in Gaza from Sun­day to Mon­day in re­sponse to rocket fire from the strip. Pales­tinian med­i­cal of­fi­cials said four peo­ple were wounded.

Wash­ing­ton reg­u­larly up­dates warn­ing no­tices to Amer­i­cans trav­el­ling to and liv­ing in coun­tries around the world.

In the case of Gaza, the State Depart­ment warned against “all travel” to the ter­ri­tory and “urges those present to de­part as soon as pos­si­ble when bor­der cross­ings are open.” It had is­sued a sim­i­lar warn­ing in De­cem­ber 2015. Since Jan­uary, 14 rock­ets fired from Gaza have hit Is­raeli ter­ri­tory, the mil­i­tary said.

The bor­der area has re­mained tense since the July-Au­gust 2014 war be­tween Is­rael and Gaza mil­i­tants that killed more than 2 200 Pales­tini­ans and 73 peo­ple on the Is­raeli side.

“Gaza is un­der the con­trol of Ha­mas, a for­eign ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion. The se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment within Gaza and on its bor­ders is dan­ger­ous and volatile,” the State Depart­ment said in its warn­ing on Tues­day.

As for Is­rael and the West Bank, a wave of vi­o­lence there since Oc­to­ber 2015 has left Amer­i­cans dead and wounded, the depart­ment said.

How­ever, “there is no in­di­ca­tion that US ci­ti­zens were specif­i­cally tar­geted based on na­tion­al­ity.”

The vi­o­lence has eased in re­cent weeks, but an AFP count shows 220 Pales­tini­ans and 34 Is­raelis killed since Oc­to­ber 1, 2015, in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries, Jerusalem and Is­rael.

Most of the Pales­tini­ans killed were at­tack­ers or sus­pected at­tack­ers. A num­ber were killed in clashes with the Is­raeli army.

The State Depart­ment on Tues­day also con­demned plans, re­ported by Is­raeli me­dia, to ex­pand a Jewish mil­i­tary com­pound in the West Bank city of He­bron by build­ing homes for set­tlers.

“If these re­ports are true . . . that would rep­re­sent a deeply con­cern­ing step of set­tle­ment ex­pan­sion on land that is at least par­tially owned by Pales­tini­ans,” depart­ment spokesper­son Mark Toner said at a press brief­ing.

“We strongly op­pose all set­tle­ment ac­tiv­ity, which is cor­ro­sive to the cause of peace. And we’ve said re­peat­edly such moves are not con­sis­tent with Is­rael’s stated de­sire to achieve a two-state so­lu­tion,” Toner added.

Wash­ing­ton reg­u­larly con­demns its ally Is­rael for “il­le­git­i­mate” set­tle­ments in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries. — Al Jazeera

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