Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Israel: Why Does US State Department Issue Travel Warning?

According to The Weekly Standard, yesterday (July 29), moments after Secretary of State John Kerry departed for the Middle East to attempt to broker a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war, the US State Department issued a travel warning that “US citizens consider the deferring non-essential travel to Israel,” due to the threat from “long-range rockets launched from Gaza.”

Interesting timing.

Long-range rocket fire from Gaza has been dramatically curtailed in recent days by the IDF’s ground operation, and was heaviest at the beginning of the war--some two weeks ago. 

Despite Hamas and Islamic Jihad barrages of M75 and M302 rockets fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on July 8-10, no travel warning was issued.

COMMENT: Israel earned over US$10 billion last year from 3.5 million visitors, the plurality of whom were US citizens. 

Coming at the height of summer tourism season, State's warning could cost Israel many millions of dollars in lost revenue.

So why did the US State Department issue this warning not when long-range rocket fire was a more serious threat, but only yesterday, days after such fire had decreased sharply, and coinciding with Secretary Kerry's trip to the region?