U.S. to Citizens in Israel: If You Want to Leave, Get Out Now

El Al flights to the U.S. have been suspended until at least April 4, making United Airlines the only carrier continuing non-stop flights to the U.S.

Ben Gurion Airport stands almost empty amid the coronavirus pandemic, March 24, 2020
Tomer Appelbaum

The U.S. Embassy in Israel has repeatedly urged citizens in Israel and the West Bank that they should “arrange for immediate departure to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain in place for an indefinite period.”

The warnings come as the travel options for reaching the United States are narrowing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. El Al flights to the U.S. have been suspended until April 4 at the earliest, a move that was announced four days ago. United Airlines remains the only carrier continuing non-stop flights to the U.S., albeit on a curtailed schedule. Further, traveling through Jordan is no longer an option, with the Israel-Jordan borders closed and the full suspension of air travel in Jordan. 

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 72

“To the best of our knowledge, there are no flights available at this time from Ben Gurion Airport to other destinations which may provide connections to the United States. Further flight cancellations and suspensions can occur with little or no warning, making availability limited and unpredictable. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite time frame,” said the embassy statement, sent in an email to U.S. citizens in Israel.  

But Mark Feldman, director of Diesenhaus travel agency, said that United Airlines had committed to continuing its service to Tel Aviv, along with five other international routes, in a letter sent by its CEO Friday, noting that a handful of other airlines were continuing to fly to Israel.

“I think the bigger danger or risk that the embassy messages are referring to is the possibility of the U.S. closing its border,” Feldman said. “That’s probably the reason they think the U.S. citizens could get stuck here and why they are saying ‘if you want to get out, go now.’”