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Amid Health Crisis, Numerous US Diplomats Leave Israel

Numerous US diplomats stationed in Israel have returned home due to growing concern over the spread of the coronavirus. “Out of consideration for the health and safety of State Department employees and family members worldwide, Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo authorized departures from any diplomatic or consular post for US employees or their family members that are deemed at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19,” a US official in Jerusalem was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying. “I can confirm that some employees [at the embassy in Jerusalem] and family members have returned to the US under this new policy,” the anonymous source added. The official did not say how many diplomats have left Israel or if any of them had tested positive for the virus. Last month, Ambassador David Friedman spent 14 days in self-quarantine after returning to Israel from a work-related trip to Washington. The State Department has approximately 75,000 employees in missions scattered across the world. Five dozen of them have been infected with the coronavirus.