By Rebecca Shabad - 07/09/14 08:01 AM EDT
The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv said Wednesday that it’s closed for the day for routine services because of the deteriorating security situation in Israel.
“Due to the current security situation in Tel Aviv, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is closed on Wednesday, July 9, for routine services for both visas and services for U.S. citizens. Emergency cases will be considered on a case by case basis,” the embassy said in a notice on its website.
The announcement came as at least five rockets launched from the Gaza Strip were intercepted over parts of Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Israel said that its forces hit about 160 terror targets in Gaza overnight.
On Tuesday, the embassy announced it will operate “at minimal staffing until further notice” due to a slew of rocket attacks across Israel that day. One rocket from Gaza reportedly struck a house in Jerusalem and exploded, though there were no casualties.
The State Department said it advises U.S. citizens to closely monitor the developments in the region and to follow emergency guidance from the Israeli government.
“Recent events underscore the importance of situational awareness. We remind you to be aware of your surroundings at all times, to monitor the media, and to follow directions of emergency responders,” it said.
Israel, meanwhile, has been mobilizing 40,000 army reservists to prepare for a possible expansion in the operation targeting members of Hamas. The U.S. and Israel consider Hamas, which controls Gaza, a terrorist group.
Violence between the two sides has dramatically escalated over the last two weeks, after the bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers were found and a Palestinian teen was killed in an attack that was thought to be retaliatory.
The White House has said Israel has the right to defend itself, but administration officials and even President Obama have urged restraint for both the Israelis and Palestinians.