National Security

U.S. Puts Citizens in Israel on High Alert After Attacks

A wounded man is evacuated from the scene of a knife attack in Jaffa / AP

American citizens currently in Israel should be on high alert in the wake of a string of shooting and knife attacks, the U.S. diplomatic missions in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem advised in a security message Wednesday.

The alert, reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agencywas circulated to U.S. citizens in Israel one day after an American Army veteran was stabbed to death by a Palestinian attacker in the port city of Jaffa near Tel Aviv.

"During the last few months, and in particular over the past several days, there have been a number of attacks in Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank that have resulted in injury and death to multiple individuals, including to U.S. citizens," the security message, sent Wednesday night, read.

"Given these recent events and the continuing dynamic security environment in these areas, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem remind U.S. citizens of the need to maintain a high degree of personal situational awareness and to monitor local media for information about breaking events," the alert read.

The message further instructed American citizens "to exercise heightened caution in areas around the Damascus, Lion’s and Herod’s gates to the Old City, as these locations have been the scene of past attacks."

Tuesday’s stabbing attack in Jaffa killed Taylor Force, a U.S. Army veteran who was studying business at Vanderbilt University, and wounded at least nine others. Palestinians waged a series of attacks on Tuesday, wounding a dozen Israelis, and several attackers were also shot and killed. Such violent attacks have persisted in Israel for months.

Force, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was on a trip to Tel Aviv with classmates "to expand his understanding of global entrepreneurship and also to share his insights and knowledge with start-ups in Israel," according to a statement from Vanderbilt.

The security message also stated that, given "the current security environment and the possibility of future attacks," employees of the U.S. government are barred from visiting Jerusalem’s Old City unless "specifically approved for mission critical travel" until at least March 16.