The U.S. State Department on Thursday issued a worldwide security alert for Americans overseas amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, citing increased tensions in various locations around the world and the potential for extremist attacks and violence against Americans.
The alert did not single out any specific global event but comes amid a conflict in the Middle East after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel subsequently pounded Hamas-ruled Gaza with air strikes that left thousands of people dead.
“Due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution,” officials said in the worldwide caution alert.
The department also told Americans overseas to “stay alert in locations frequented by tourists.”
The last time the department issued such a warning was in August 2022, following the counterterrorism strike in Afghanistan that killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
At that time, U.S. officials warned that “supporters of al-Qa’ida, or its affiliated terrorist organizations, may seek to attack U.S. facilities, personnel, or citizens.”
Separately, the State Department has been instructing its embassies and consulates around the world to conduct emergency security reviews amid ongoing protests sparked by the fighting, according to sources familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by ABC News.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also instructed personnel to evaluate whether embassies should issue alerts to Americans in their respective countries about potential threats posed by the demonstrations, as many have already done.
Several posts have asked the State Department to modify their operations due to security concerns, sources said, but at this point, it does not appear that any additional embassies have asked to go on authorized departure, and so far none have requested a full evacuation.
Demonstrations erupted in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and elsewhere amid outrage across the Middle East over an explosion Tuesday at a hospital in Gaza.
Palestinian officials blamed an Israeli air strike, but Israel denied it.
The U.S. has said it has data showing Israel was not responsible for the deadly strike.
Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters throwing projectiles near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on Thursday, TV footage showed. The State Department this week warned Americans not to travel to Lebanon.
In Washington, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday that the Justice Department is monitoring an increase in reported threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities in the United States tied to Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.