University of California–Irvine, in Irvine, Calif., on Sept. 25, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
California universities have evacuated students who were attending study abroad programs in Israel following warnings from the U.S. government about the dangers of the ongoing war in the region.
The federal government this month classified
Israel and the West Bank as a level three travel risk due to potential “terrorism and civil unrest,” while Gaza is classified as a level four travel risk.
The classifications come amid ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas—a militant group in control of Gaza—beginning with the Oct. 7 attack of Hamas on locations in Israel.
The government advises people to “reconsider travel” to countries with a level three travel risk classification, while it poses a ban on travel to those with level four classifications.
The government’s classification caused California’s two public university systems, University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU), to take action to evacuate their students from the country.
UC’s Education Abroad Program said its students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem left Israel this month and are all safe, according to education news outlet EdSource
However, UC declined to share how many students were abroad and where they are now.
“We can confirm that students on ... sponsored programs are safe and have departed Israel. It’s our policy, following best practices on travel safety abroad, not to disclose the number of students in a given location or their specific location during emergency or urgent location changes,” Jennifer Monroe, a spokesperson for the UC Education Abroad Program, told EdSource in a statement. “[The district] continues to evaluate the safety and security conditions at the program location and region to determine if in-person programming can continue.”
California State University–Fullerton in Fullerton, Calif., on March 8, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
The students are now taking online or hybrid courses in connection with Hebrew University of Jerusalem, according to Ms. Monroe.
Ms. Monroe was not immediately available for comment.
Meanwhile, CSU said a Chico State student who was in an internship in Israel has returned to California – and a CSU Northridge was about to leave to start a program at the University of Haifa in Israel, but did not depart because of the country’s unrest, according to EdSource.
Jaishankar Raman, executive director of CSU’s International Programs, was not immediately available for comment.
More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed as of Oct. 31, with 5,400 injured, according to figures reported by Israeli officials. Since the initial attack, at least 8,525 Palestinians have been killed and 21,543 injured, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health reported in a social media post
“Terrorist groups, lone-actor terrorists and other violent extremists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza,” the U.S. government’s website read. “Terrorists and violent extremists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza without warning. There has been a marked increase in demonstrations throughout Israel, some with little or no warning.”