Washington: The US State Department said that it was exploring alternative options “by air, land, and sea to nearby countries” as there were only limited commercial flights available to American citizens wanting to leave Israel amid the ongoing conflict.
“The State Department has teams communicating 24/7 with US citizens and providing them assistance through phone calls, an online form and the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program,” CNN quoted a Department spokesperson as saying late Wednesday.
“Our goal is to assist US citizens who want to leave Israel with a safe means of doing so.”
The spokesperson added that American citizens were encouraged to take advantage of commercial flights “that involve transiting a third country if they are unable to book a direct flight to the US”.
In order to meet high demand for flights, the spokesperson said “we are also exploring other contract options by air, land and sea to nearby countries”, adding that the Department “will continue to provide updates to US citizens who have registered via our online form as information becomes available”.
The spokesperson’s remarks after the Department raised its travel advisory level on Wednesday to ‘Level 3: Reconsider Travel’ because of the civil unrest and terrorism, advising that “the situation in Israel remains dynamic; mortar and rocket fire may take place without warning”, CNN reported.
“Individuals should follow the instructions of security and emergency response officials,” an updated travel advisory said.
“While Ben Gurion International Airport remains open, we are aware that several major airlines have announced that they have suspended flights.
“Please check with the airlines on the availability of flights and flight status. US citizens in Gaza who wish to leave and can do so safely are advised to check the status of the Rafah Crossing into Egypt,” it added.
Meanwhile, the travel advisory for the West Bank has also been raised to ‘Level 3: Reconsider Travel’, while the advisory for Gaza remains at the most severe — ‘Level 4: Do Not Travel’, as the enclave remains under heavy bombardment from Israeli airstrikes.