World News

US restricts travel for employees in Israel amid fears of Iran attack

  • By Christy Cooney
  • BBC News

Legend, A view of the rooftops of Jerusalem

The United States has restricted the movement of its employees in Israel, fearing an Iranian attack.

The US embassy said staff were instructed not to travel outside the areas of greater Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Be’er Sheva “out of an abundance of caution.”

Iran has vowed to retaliate after Israel struck the Iranian consulate in Syria 11 days ago, killing 13 people.

British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron telephoned his Iranian counterpart to urge him to avoid further escalation.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the consulate attack, but is widely believed to be behind it.

Iran supports Hamas, the Palestinian militant group fighting Israel in Gaza, as well as various proxy groups throughout the region, including some — like Hezbollah in Lebanon — that frequently carry out strikes against Israelis.

Among those killed in the consulate attack were a senior commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon, as well as other military figures.

The attack occurred at a time when diplomatic efforts continued to prevent the war in Gaza from spreading across the region.

Speaking on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden warned that Iran was threatening to launch a “significant attack” and pledged to offer “ironclad” support to Israel.

The commander responsible for U.S. operations in the Middle East, Erik Kurilla, visited Israel to speak with officials about security threats.

The Pentagon said the visit had been previously scheduled but was moved up “due to recent developments.”

Following a call with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Lord Cameron said he had “made clear…that Iran must not drag the Middle East into a wider conflict”.

“I am deeply concerned about the risk of miscalculations that could lead to further violence,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the foreign ministers of China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to say further escalation is in no one’s interests.

It is unclear what form a retaliatory attack would take or whether it would come directly from Iran or through one of its proxies.

On Sunday, an Iranian official warned that Israeli embassies were “no longer safe”, suggesting a consular building could be a possible target.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told his American counterpart that “any direct Iranian attack” on Israeli territory “would require an appropriate Israeli response against Iran.”

Asked Thursday about the travel restrictions, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said he would not disclose the “specific assessments” behind them, but added: “It’s clear that we “Let us monitor the threat environment in the Middle East and in particular in Israel.”

The UK Foreign Office also updated its travel advice to Israel to say that the country’s government has raised the “possibility of an attack on Israeli territory from Iran, and that such an attack could trigger a wider escalation.”

Since Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, the Foreign Ministry has warned against travel to large parts of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

German airline Lufthansa has extended the suspension of its flights to the Iranian capital, Tehran, until Saturday.

The October attack saw gunmen kill 1,200 people and take more than 250 hostages after crossing the Israeli border from Gaza.

Israel says that of 130 hostages still in Gaza, at least 34 are dead.

More than 33,000 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel’s subsequent offensive in Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry said.

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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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