Israel protests: UK Foreign Office warns British travellers to avoid rallies

Holidaymakers and those already in the country should stay away for safety reasons, the FCDO said


Anti-judicial overhaul demonstrators protest against the Israeli government's judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv, July 11, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ???? ?????? ?????? ?????? ??????

British citizens in Israel this summer should steer clear of anti-Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrations for their own safety, according to new government advice.

The Foreign Office has updated advice for Britons in Israel to warn against attending “large gatherings or demonstrations” in the country and to instruct anyone who finds “armed clashes” breaking out in their location to remain inside before leaving the area.

Mass protests have been staged in Israel for months in response to the Prime Minister’s contentious proposals to reform the country’s judicial system.

Netanyahu’s plans would weaken the power of the judiciary, giving parliament the ability to invalidate supreme court decisions

Fresh advice issued by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) this week states the “large political demonstrations” across Israel “have the potential to escalate and become violent. Entry [and] exit to Ben Gurion Airport has occasionally been impacted during political demonstrations.”

It continues: “You should check the local news before travelling to see if there have been recent clashes, be vigilant, avoid any large gatherings or demonstrations, avoid areas which have been the site of recent violence and follow the instructions of the local authorities.

“If you are in a location where an Israeli security operation or armed clashes are ongoing, you should stay inside and wait for the local authorities to confirm that the situation is calm before moving to a different location.”

The FCDO said Britons in the country should “exercise particular caution when considering visiting Hebron or Palestinian refugee camps which have previously been the site of violent clashes… [and] settlements and settlement outposts which have been the site of recent violent incidents”.

People should “avoid such locations after dark…check the local news before travelling to these areas to see if there have been recent clashes and avoid areas which have been the site of recent violence”.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have flooded the streets in a series of rallies – some of which have turned violent – since the controversial proposals were unveiled in January.

On Tuesday, a planned “day of disruption” saw thousands of protestors blockade Israel’s largest airport, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport after parliament passed a key element in the highly divisive bill.

Others gathered on highways around the country, with some laying down on the road, or letting off flares.

In Jerusalem, police used a water cannon to disperse demonstrators blocking a highway, despite Israeli physicians urging officers to refrain from such action, warning the instruments carry a “high risk of injury” including blindness. At least 66 people were arrested, according to reports.

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