El Al Boeing 747-400 airplane
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Travel Alert May 2021: Civil Unrest in Israel; Ben Gurion Airport Closed Until Further Notice

If Israel is in your travel plans over the next couple of weeks, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to civil unrest in that country, as violence has erupted between Israeli and Palestinian forces.

Travel Alert May 2021: Civil Unrest in Israel; Ben Gurion Airport Closed Until Further Notice

The use of hundreds of rockets, missiles, and mortar shells have escalated the conflict to the point at which at least 90 people have been killed and greater than 500 people have been injured, as religious violence spreads across the country…

…and because some of the ongoing rocket fire from the Gaza Strip has been aimed at or near the vicinity of Ben Gurion Airport, operations at the airport have been shut down until further notice. Airplanes which have been arriving at the airport have been diverted to Ramon airport near Eilat.

The official travel advisory level by the Department of State of the United States is at Level 2, which means to exercise increased cautio; but the United States Embassy in Jerusalem has issued this official security alert for Gaza, Southern Israel, and Central Israel for Wednesday, May 12, 2021…

Rockets continue to impact the Gaza periphery and areas across Southern and Central Israel.  Effectively immediately and until Monday, May 17, U.S. government employees and their family members have been advised to remain close to home and/or close to a bomb shelter during daylight hours, and to remain indoors in their residences until 6:00 a.m. the next day where there are active Red Alerts at night.

In the event of red alert sirens or active rocket attacks, U.S. citizens should remain sheltered until ten minutes after the last siren.  Please follow all guidance from the Israeli Home Front Command.

U.S. citizens should review home shelter plans and ensure their bomb shelters are stocked with any items they might need when sheltering for an extended period, such as, water, food, comfort items for children and pets, phone chargers, a flashlight, and extra batteries.

As security incidents, including rocket fire, often take place without warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. In the event of mortar and/or rocket fire, a red alert siren may be activated. Treat all such alerts as real; follow the instructions from local authorities and seek shelter immediately. Know the location of your closest shelter or protected space. U.S. government employees and their family members are temporarily restricted from traveling to and through areas with active red alert sirens or rocket activity, to include the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon. U.S. government personnel continue to be prohibited from travel to Gaza and areas in close proximity to Gaza.

For additional information on appropriate action to take upon hearing a siren or explosion, see the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command website (available on devices within Israel) or view the Preparedness Information PDF. U.S. citizens may also wish to download the free Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command application on Android or Apple devices to receive real-time security and safety alerts. Free commercial applications, such as Red Alert: Israel, are also available.

Actions to Take:

Assistance:

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to Israel over the next couple of weeks, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to the civil unrest which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary. If you are driving in any of these areas, watch out for deteriorating conditions and traffic problems.

Here are four airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of this civil unrest:

  • American Airlines has issued a travel alert for Tel Aviv for Wednesday, May 12, 2021 through Tuesday, May 25, 2021; and Tuesday, June 15, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued a travel alert for Tel Aviv for Tuesday, May 11, 2021 through Tuesday, May 25, 2021; and Tuesday, June 15, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued a travel alert for Tel Aviv for Tuesday, May 11, 2021 through Tuesday, May 25, 2021; and Tuesday, June 15, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • El Al Israel Airlines has issued ongoing travel alerts for specific flights.

Summary

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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