Attack at Synagogue

A terrorist attack on Tuesday at a synagogue in Har Nof in West Jerusalem killed five people, including three U.S. citizens, and injured several others. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – one of six active designated foreign terrorist organizations – has claimed responsibility, though this remains unverified. This attack is in addition to several acts of violence which have taken place in the past two months in and around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Each of these attacks occurred at a soft target. We have no information that any of the American victims were targeted because they were American citizens.

Today’s incident differs from recent attacks, potentially demonstrating low-level coordination to attack a pre-identified soft target as opposed to an opportunistic random act of violence. While we cannot predict where and when attacks may take place, we have consistently seen a cycle of violence in East Jerusalem neighborhoods following incidents like the one today.

In addition, U.S. government officials are restricted from using the Jerusalem Light Rail north of French Hill through December 23 at 6:00 p.m.

The current dynamic security environment underscores the importance of situational awareness, especially in crowded public places that may have minimal overt police presence. We advise that you monitor local media outlets for current information.

What is a Soft Target?

The State Department considers soft targets to include places where people live, congregate, shop or visit, including hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, identifiable Western businesses, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or public recreation events, often with little or no security presence.

Making Yourself a Harder Target

We advise taking steps to make yourself a “harder target” and raise your situational awareness when frequenting these areas; make your routes, arrival and departure times unpredictable, ensure a colleague, friend or family member is aware of your travel, and report suspicious activity to local authorities.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) . STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings (including the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza), Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read theCountry Specific Information for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. For additional information, refer to “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website.

 Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitterand Facebook.

The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem is located at 14 David Flusser Street in the Arnona neighborhood and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays and certain local holidays). Its telephone number is (972) (2) 630-4000.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is located at 71 HaYarkon Street and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays and certain local holidays). Its telephone number is (972) (3) 519-7475. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the Consulate General is (972) (2) 622-7230, and the emergency number for the Embassy is (972) (3) 519-7575.