War between Israel and Hamas raises tensions in Europe: what travelers should know | ET REALITY


As the war between Hamas and Israel escalates in the Middle East, tensions are spilling over into Europe, where protests and terrorist attacks are causing disruption for locals and visitors alike.

Last week, monuments and government buildings across Europe were illuminated blue and white, a show of solidarity with Israel after the Hamas attack on October 7 that killed at least 1,400 Israeli civilians. Within days, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters were marching through European cities to protest the Israeli bombing of Gaza that followed. A deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday, which left Palestinians and Israelis exchanging blame, has threatened further unrest.

Local authorities have beefed up security as clashes broke out over the weekend in London, Paris, Madrid and Rome. In France, security threats have forced the evacuation of sites such as the Louvre Museum, as well as several airports.

Security experts say that while it is still safe to travel to Europe, it is important to be aware of protests and show vigilance for any perceived threats.

Here’s what you should know about interruptions.

Since October 13, when a former Hamas leader declared “a day of rage,” tens of thousands of people across Europe have gathered to call for an end to Israeli military action in Gaza, prompting some countries such as France and Germany to ban bans. Palestinian demonstrations. One of the largest protests took place in London, where clashes with police led to the arrest of 15 people. Another pro-Palestinian demonstration is planned for midday Saturday at London’s Marble Arch.

In Paris, a pro-Palestinian protest is planned for Thursday at 6pm on the Place de la République, defying the ban, which was confirmed by a French court on Wednesday, with instructions for local authorities to evaluate individual cases in Search for security risks. More demonstrations in support of the Palestinians are likely to take place across Europe until the end of October, according to Crisis24, a security risk and crisis management consulting group.

Following the explosion at a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday night, protesters in Istanbul stormed the Israeli consulate, threw fireworks at the building and burned Israeli flags. In the city of Malatya, in east-central Turkey, a group of protesters attempted to enter a US military base.

The US embassy in Ankara said large demonstrations related to events in Israel and Gaza are expected across Turkey in the coming weeks. “Any gathering, even those intended to be peaceful, could escalate and turn violent,” the embassy said in a statement. Security alert published on October 18. “Protest activity may result in increased police presence, road closures and traffic disruptions.”

On Tuesday, Israel’s National Security Council issued a warning against travel to Turkey and Morocco, citing fears that Israeli travelers could be attacked. He urged all Israeli citizens in Turkey to leave as soon as possible.

“We always recommend that our clients avoid public demonstrations and protests, as they can quickly get out of control,” said Randy Haight, director of global response and protection operations at International Focus Pointa US-based travel risk management company.

Two terrorist attacks were carried out this week in France and Belgium, causing both countries to raise their terrorist threat alert to the maximum level.

In northern France, a teacher was killed and several people were injured after a man with a knife attacked a school in what French officials described as an “Islamist terrorist attack.” Days later, during a soccer match between Belgium and Sweden for the Euro 2024 qualifiers in Brussels, a man shot and killed two Swedish citizens in what authorities called “an act of terrorism.” The match was suspended and fans were detained in the stadium. The police later shot the attacker.

“While authorities have not identified any link between the conflict between Israel and Hamas and the attacks in Europe, the highly emotional and divisive nature of the conflict could lead to additional attacks in the coming weeks,” said James Wood, security director at international SOSa health and safety risk management company.

“Reports also indicate that hate crimes have increased globally since the conflict began,” he added.

Tourist sites and transportation hubs in France have received multiple bomb threats this week, prompting tourists to evacuate the Louvre Museum and the Palace of Versailles. On Wednesday, eight French airports were evacuated after receiving threats. The sites have since reopened.

Before traveling to Europe, visitors should consult the State Department website to get the latest guidance on the specific country you are visiting. Currently, for most European countries, including Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany and Spain, the department has issued a Level 2 advisory, urging U.S. citizens to “exercise increased caution” due to terrorist threats and civil unrest.

As of October 18, the terrorist threat alert in France remains at its highest level. The threat level in Belgium has since been reduced to level 3.

It is difficult to predict the trajectory of the war and any associated incidents that may occur in Europe, said Wood of International SOS. But people can take some practical steps to reduce exposure to potential events:

  • Anticipate increased security in urban centres, particularly around tourist hotspots, key government areas and public transport hubs in the coming weeks.

  • Be alert for suspicious behavior or items and report anything unusual to authorities.

  • Be prepared for security alerts or hoaxes that may result in the evacuation of public places at short notice, which may cause disruption.

  • Follow all directives issued by authorities and do not act on unverified information.

  • Check with local authorities for details of planned demonstrations. Anticipate disruptions and plan your trip accordingly.

  • Expect an increased police presence and leave the area at the first sign of disturbances.

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