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State Department Urges US Citizens To Avoid Travel To Israel As Fighting Intensifies

EL SEGUNDO ( — As clashes in Gaza continue to escalate, the State Department has issued a warning for Americans to avoid traveling to the region.

Recent weeks have seen an intense increase in fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian Hamas militants, with Monday's fighting reportedly resulting in over 100 Palestinian deaths, along with seven Israeli soldiers.

Long-ranged rockets, launched from Gaza since July 8th, have reached numerous targets throughout Israel.

Americans who have planned or are planning to travel to Israel, Gaza or the West Bank are being urged to reconsider if those travel plans are not essential.

The State Department's statement reads:

"The State Department warns US citizens of the risks of traveling to Israel, The West Bank and Gaza due to ongoing hostilities. The Department of State recommends that US citizens consider the deferral of nonessential travel to Israel and the West Bank and reaffirms the longstanding, strong warning to US citizens against any travel to the Gaza Strip."

The department's new warning replaces one that had originally been issued on Feb. 3, 2014.

At Los Angeles International Airport, which hosts just a handful of daily flights between LA and Israel, travelers are reacting to the State Department's warning.

"You travel the world and all that, and you can go to good places and whatever," traveler Gavin Collings said. "But I think that, with what's going on over there, you know, you've got to be really careful. If you don't have to go, you just don't go, you defer it and go where you want to go."

Americans who work in Israel are not permitted to travel into the Gaza Strip, whether for personal or business reasons.

Other travelers at LAX, however, say they are sticking to their plans to travel to The West Bank.

"We have to go (to) Jordan, then we have to go (to) Palestine after that, because our roots (are) from there," Garden Grove resident Azmi Ali Hawedi said. "I have to do some papers for my kids, because they are American, and I want them to take the Palestinian nationality also."

The State Department reportedly does not currently have an evacuation plan in place for US citizens in Israel.

"I think that's a good idea not to go into harm's way," Encinitas resident Marcella Johnson said. "I mean, I think you want to take caution where it's due. I mean, you don't want to do anything foolish."



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