US diplomatic missions restrict employees’ travel in Israel after bus bomb

In addition to longstanding prohibition on using public buses, recent escalation prompts expansion to shared mini-bus taxis.

Bat Yam bus bombing 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Bat Yam bus bombing 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Even as Israelis debate endlessly over the airwaves whether the recent uptick in terrorism constitutes a “third intifada,” the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and consulate in Jerusalem apparently determined something significant is afoot, and on Tuesday banned all employees and their families from riding in shared taxis.
The ban on the shared taxis (sherut) was defined in an “Emergency Message for US citizens” that appeared on both the embassy and consulate’s websites as a “temporary prohibition” for the next two weeks, “as we assess the security implication of the December 22 bomb attack on a public bus in the Bat Yam neighborhood of Tel Aviv.”
This ban is in addition to the longstanding prohibition for US Embassy personnel and their families to use “public buses and their associated terminals and bus stops in Israel.”
The embassy announcement also renewed the US government’s longstanding advice to US citizens in Israel to “exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security.
US citizens should pay close attention to their surroundings and news reports, and follow the civil defense guidance provided by the Home Front Command.”
One Israeli official dismissed the move as a “gross overreaction,” saying that if Israel were to apply the same standards to the US it would advise its citizens to stay away from US public schools because of the occasional shooting rampages there.