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Rockets Fired into Israel from Gaza

November 14, 2013

Early this morning, news reports say that two rockets were fired into Israel, landing in open fields close to the city of Ofakim, approximately 15 miles east of Gaza and 45 miles southwest of Jerusalem. In response, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) launched a limited air raid campaign, destroying two underground rocket launchers in Gaza. IDF ground troops also entered the Gaza Strip. The al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Tensions between the Gaza Strip and Israel have slightly increased over the last month, resulting in an increase in militant attacks from the Gaza Strip into the immediate surrounding region. Faltering peace negotiations and yesterday's marking of the one-year anniversary of the November 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense are believed to be part of the cause. As a result, heightened tensions between the two entities may continue for several more weeks. The IDF is likely to continue responding with force should any future incidents occur.

All IFSA-Butler students are prohibited from traveling to the Gaza Strip and the immediate vicinity due to the high risk associated with the region. At this time, Jerusalem is still considered to be at a low-risk of any militant activity. Travel throughout Israel is permitted, but students must inform the IFSA-Butler student services coordinator and Hebrew University international staff of their travel plans. Students are also asked to always keep their cell phones on in case an emergency arises during their travels. Additionally, the IFSA-Butler and Hebrew University program orientations discussed at length personal safety measures in Israel.

IFSA-Butler will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as needed. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. For further information, see the following media outlets:

Storm Damage in England

Monday, October 28, 2013
IFSA-Butler is monitoring the effects of a large storm that hit southern Britain overnight. The storm has officially ended, but gale-force winds and rain continue. At this time, over 500,000 homes are without power, hundreds of trees have fallen blocking roads, train lines are severely disrupted and over 130 flights have been cancelled at Heathrow Airport. Emergency crews are working to restore services and reopen roads and railways.

We have reached out to all IFSA-Butler England, Scotland and Wales students via email, asking them to contact our resident staff immediately if they need any assistance. Additionally, we are asking students to contact our office in their host country if they were travelling outside of the region over the weekend and are experiencing delays returning to their host city. We recommend that these students email their professors or tutors to explain their absence from classes missed today or tomorrow, and these students should also keep copies of travel receipts and tickets in the event that they are asked to provide them as evidence.

For more information, we recommend the following news sites:


New York Times

The Guardian

NSW Australia Bushfires

Monday, October 21, 2013
The state of New South Wales in Australia has declared a state of emergency due to massive bushfires. The fires began last week and subsided somewhat over the weekend due to weather, but the fires persist in the Blue Mountains and other wooded areas outside of Sydney.

Authorities do not believe that the fires themselves pose a threat to Sydney, but there are concerns about smoke and low air quality because of the fires.

IFSA-Butler's resident director in Australia, Christi Hoover, has been in contact with all of our students in Sydney and has issued the following safety recommendations:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Consult the health center at your university if you have a respiratory condition such as asthma.
  • Obey all fire safety rules in Sydney: Dispose of cigarettes safely and appropriately and only after fully extinguishing them. Remember there is a complete fire ban!
  • Avoid travel to the bushfire areas such as the Blue Mountains, the Southern Highlands or Mount Victoria. If you do have any local rural trips planned and are unsure if they are in affected areas, please check first or confirm with your SSC.
  • Watch your university's student news bulletins to see if there are any tips or advisories offered.

Students in Australia are welcome to contact Christi or our staff in Sydney with any questions or concerns, and our U.S. office is also happy to answer questions about this situation. We will update our Australia students and their parents as necessary.

For more information:

Christi Hoover, Australia Resident Director

Sydney Morning Herald

ABC (Australia)

IFSA-Butler Suspends Spring 2014 Egypt Program

IFSA-Butler has decided to suspend its spring 2014 programs in Egypt. We are encouraging any student interested in a Middle East study abroad experience to consider IFSA-Butler programs in Israel or the United Arab Emirates.


Bush Fires in Australia

September 10, 2013

IFSA-Butler is closely monitoring the recent outbreak of bush fires in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW). Currently there are four major fires located at least 30 miles outside of Sydney, all of which have been downgraded from “emergency” to “watch and act” by the NSW Rural Fire Service. Cooling temperatures and the possibility of rain in the next few days is expected to help reduce the number and intensity of all fires currently burning in NSW’s rural areas. While IFSA-Butler students are not at risk, reports indicate that smoke from the fires can be smelled in Sydney and outlying areas.

With the increase in temperature and decrease of precipitation during Australia’s spring and summer months (September to February), bush fires in rural areas of NSW are common. During the mandatory IFSA-Butler orientation at the beginning of the semester, fire safety is discussed in length with all students. When students are planning a trip to the Australian bush for hiking, camping, or other outdoor activities, they are advised to check first with the weather service as well as with the NSW Rural Fire Services for current weather conditions, fire notifications and fire bans. Additionally, all students are to complete an online Travel Registration Form which notifies our Australia resident staff of a students’ trip details. Students may also contact our Australia resident staff with questions and concerns at any time.

We will continue to monitor this situation throughout Australia’s summer months and provide any relevant updates as needed. Feel free to contact our Indianapolis office if you have any questions and concerns. For further information, please see the following resources:

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24028790

NSW Rural Fire Services: http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/dsp_content.cfm?CAT_ID=1109

Australian Government: http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-weather-and-the-seasons

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