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The U.S. European Command on Friday instructed Defense Department personnel to take note of a policy change based on an updated U.S. State Department warning regarding travel to Israel.

In general, the new policy makes travel to Israel and to the West Bank and Gaza Strip more restrictive, said Army Maj. Steve Wollman, a EUCOM spokesman. Issued last week, the policy changes supersede the previous travel warning, which was updated by the State Department in February.

Wollman noted that one important change pertains to new requirements for unofficial travel to Israel. In the past, all a military member needed was a valid leave form and passport. Now they will be required to receive counseling from a O5 or above in a command position. For civilians, supervisors must ensure they are aware of the restrictions.

Additionally, travelers must also obtain a country clearance.

Another significant adjustment involves travel to the West Bank and/or the Gaza Strip. Anyone wishing to go must first gain the approval of a flag or general officer as well as the appropriate Defense Attache Office.

“We’re doing this all for the protection of our people traveling to that area,” Wollman said.

The changes coincide with the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Fighting there began July 12.

“Hezbollah continues to launch numerous rocket attacks into Israel, which have resulted in fatalities and injuries to civilians,” according to the State Department Travel Warning. “This is a volatile and extremely dangerous situation.”

To view the entire travel warning, go to this State Department Web site: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_922.html.


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