Israel complains about US travel advisory singling out Israel, not Jordan, for precautions

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel protested Monday against what it charged was a biased U.S. warning for American travelers to locate bomb shelters when visiting the Israeli resort of Eilat but not in neighboring Jordan, following last week's rocket attack.

The rockets hit Israel's Eilat and Aqaba in Jordan, where one person was killed. Officials from both countries blamed Islamist militants in the Egyptian Sinai desert.

The Israeli Tourism Ministry objected to singling out Eilat for precautionary advice but not Aqaba.

"This advisory gives a prize to terror and undermines regional stability and the sense of security that Israel gives to everyone who enters the country," it said. "Differentiating Israel from its neighbor that actually suffered loss of life is improper and lacks balance."

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley dismissed the Israeli complaint. He told reporters Monday that the travel advisories are "based on our best judgment of the assessment of risk wherever American citizens are traveling. So I would say that it's not our judgment that the risk is identical between the two locations."

Eilat and Aqaba are side by side on the Red Sea at the southern tips of both countries.

After the rocket attack on Aug. 2, the U.S. Embassy in Jordan said travel to Aqaba "is discouraged for the next 48 hours," while the embassy in Tel Aviv suggested visitors to Eilat know the location of the nearest bomb shelter.

On Aug. 5, the State Department in Washington updated its standing travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, advising visitors to Eilat once again to "ascertain the location of the nearest bomb shelter." No similar advice was issued for Aqaba.

Israel's statement Monday said Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov requested a meeting with U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham. The embassy said he was out of the country and had no further comment.


Associated Press Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington, DC.