Violence in Middle East forces travelers to change plans and stay in the Midwest

CREATED Jul 11, 2014

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WHITEFISH BAY - They rolled their bags to the bus ready for a pilgrimage, but they're hardly leaving Wisconsin.  

The Jewish Community Center canceled a planned trip for a group of 23 Jewish teenagers from the North Shore this week because of continued rocket attacks in Israel.  

"It's disappointing, especially because the conflict isn't something we can control," lamented Jake Stein, a participant. "We're also really concerned for our friends and family that have to deal with the rockets."  

Fighting between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza entered raged on for its fourth day; Hamas fighters fired rockets towards Israeli cities, with Israel striking back with pummeling force on hundreds of targets.

Summer is a popular time for travel to the Holy Land, and the unrest affects for Jewish and Muslim travelers.  

"I really wish I'd be able to spend [Ramadan] there but we can't do it at the moment," said Ala Ismail, whose family lives in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "We call them, we check on them and see if they need anything."  

The US State Department has issued a warning about travel to Israel, stating:  "Travelers to areas of Israel in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip should be aware of the risks presented by small arms fire, anti-tank weapons, rockets, and mortars launched from inside Gaza toward Israeli cities and towns.  These attacks can come with little warning.  Some rockets have reached areas in central Tel Aviv, the Bethlehem area south of Jerusalem, and Beersheva.  Gunfire, rocket, and mortar attacks in the regions immediately bordering Gaza are a regular occurrence.  Visitors to these areas should remain aware of their surroundings and of the location of bomb shelters and should take note of announcements and guidance provided by the Home Front Command."