Israeli troops at an undisclosed location on the border with the Gaza Strip on October 8, 2023
Israeli troops at an undisclosed location on the border with the Gaza Strip on October 8, 2023 | Photo: AFP / JACK GUEZ AFP News

The UK Foreign Office has warned people against travelling to Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) amid an unprecedented attack by Palestinian militants.

After Hamas, a militant organisation based in Gaza, fired thousands of rockets across the border to Israel on Saturday, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that his country was "at war".

Following a massive coordinated assault by Hamas militants, followed by retaliation by Israel, over 1,000 people have been confirmed dead in Gaza and Israel. News reports further state that the death toll will continue to rise as a large number of people are critically wounded.

The latest advisory from the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) has specifically warned against all travel to Gaza, the Sheba'a Farms and Ghajjar, and any areas within 500 metres of the borders with neighbouring Lebanon and Syria, as well as all but essential travel to areas in the northern West Bank.

"The Israeli government has declared a state of emergency across the whole country. International borders (air and land) in Israel and the OPTs could close at short notice. You should check with your airlines and travel insurers before travelling. You are advised to consult Israeli Home Front Command for more information: or call 104 if you are in Israel," read FCDO's advisory.

The FCDO added further that the "security situation in Israel and the OPTs can be fast moving, tense and unpredictable. You should be vigilant at all times and keep up to date with local media and travel reports".

The FCDO has advised against all but essential travel to areas north of and including Jenin city, Burqin and Arranah in the north of the West Bank. This also includes Jenin refugee camp and all areas north of this until the Jalamah checkpoint for access to Israel, the city of Nablus, Joseph's Tomb, and the Balata and New Askar refugee camps near Nablus and the village of Huwara, south of Nablus.

The inhuman act from Hamas has seen the gunmen cross over the border by land, sea and air, attacking southern, central parts of Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Several reports have emerged of civilians and soldiers being taken hostage, with disturbing videos of the same circulating on social media.

In an unusual public statement, Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif urged all Palestinians to confront Israel, adding: "We've decided to say enough is enough. This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth."