The United States updated a travel warning urging Americans to refrain from traveling to the Gaza Strip by sea and emphasizing risks, including a possible 10-year travel ban to Israel.
The new State Department travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, said Americans could face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by Israel. "The Government of Israel has announced its intention to seek 10-year travel bans to Israel for anyone participating in an attempt to enter Gaza by sea," the notice said.
Pro-Palestinian groups are planning a flotilla to carry humanitarian aid to Gaza, which is controlled by the militant Islamist group Hamas, and hope to sail this month. Israel plans to stop it from reaching Gaza.
Israeli officials have long argued that aid flotillas can be used as a cover to help supply weapons to Hamas, while Palestinians say the Israeli sea blockade is illegal and hurts the economy in Gaza.
The Israeli military came under fierce criticism for its assault on a Turkish-sponsored flotilla in May 2010. The State Department mentioned that incident in its travel warning.
"On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one U.S. citizen, in such an attempt," the notice said. "The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem are not able to provide consular assistance in Gaza or on the high seas or coastal waters."
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