The United States' answer to terror
U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem
Security Message for U.S. Citizens – Attack at Synagogue
November 18, 2014
A terrorist attack on Tuesday at a synagogue in Har Nof in West Jerusalem killed five people, including three U.S. citizens, and injured several others. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) - one of six active designated foreign terrorist organizations - has claimed responsibility, though this remains unverified. This attack is in addition to several acts of violence which have taken place in the past two months in and around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Each of these attacks occurred at a soft target. We have no information that any of the American victims were targeted because they were American citizens.
Today’s incident differs from recent attacks, potentially demonstrating low-level coordination to attack a pre-identified soft target as opposed to an opportunistic random act of violence. While we cannot predict where and when attacks may take place, we have consistently seen a cycle of violence in East Jerusalem neighborhoods following incidents like the one today.
In addition, U.S. government officials are restricted from using the Jerusalem Light Rail north of French Hill through December 23 at 6:00 p.m.
The current dynamic security environment underscores the importance of situational awareness, especially in crowded public places that may have minimal overt police presence. We advise that you monitor local media outlets for current information.
What is a Soft Target?
The State Department considers soft targets to include places where people live, congregate, shop or visit, including hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, identifiable Western businesses, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or public recreation events, often with little or no security presence.
Making Yourself a Harder Target
We advise taking steps to make yourself a "harder target" and raise your situational awareness when frequenting these areas; make your routes, arrival and departure times unpredictable, ensure a colleague, friend or family member is aware of your travel, and report suspicious activity to local authorities.In other words, the US State Department considers you a 'soft target' if you set foot outside your front door, and then goes on to give advice that might have a chance of being effective if the terrorists happen to be targeting you personally.
But most terrorists in Israel target Jews - not specific people. And unlike many cities overseas where you can 'prove' you're not Jewish by - for example - putting on a baseball cap, in Israel, the Arabs know as well as we do how to tell a Jew from an Arab.