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December 17, 2021


Venezuela (Security threat level – 5): In the early hours of 17 December 2021, widespread power outages occurred across Venezuela. The blackouts were reported beginning at approximately 0200 local time (0600 UTC) in the capital Caracas and at least 19 states in the country. As of last report, technicians were working to fully restore electricity. A Cabinet minister attributed the extensive blackouts to an unspecified attack on the Guri hydroelectric power plant in the state of Bolívar; however, periodic blackouts are frequent in Venezuela, largely due to insufficient maintenance of the national electric grid.


Japan (Security threat level – 1): At approximately 1020 local time (0120 UTC) on 17 December 2021, a fire broke out at a psychiatric clinic located on the fourth floor of an eight-story commercial building in Osaka’s Kita ward. Reports indicate that the fire consumed an area of approximately 20 sq. m (215 sq. ft). Firefighters deployed to the scene and extinguished the blaze within about 30 minutes. At least 24 people died due to fire-related injuries, while four more suffered injuries. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Authorities stated that they are investigating eyewitness reports that a man used an unidentified liquid to start the fire at the clinic.

Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 16-17 December 2021, significant flight disruptions occurred at Allama Iqbal International Airport (OPLA/LHE) in the city of Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab, due to poor visibility conditions as a result of dense fog in the area. According to local media reports, as many as 18 international and domestic flights scheduled to operate through the facility were canceled. An additional 22 flights experienced delays, while six incoming flights to the airports in Lahore and nearby Sialkot were diverted to Islamabad International Airport (OPIS/ISB).

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): As of 17 December 2021, recovery efforts are ongoing in areas affected by Typhoon Rai — locally known as Odette — throughout the central Philippines. Significant damage was reported throughout the areas along the storm’s path, including downed power lines and trees, flooding and landslides, which have led to power and communications disruptions. In Cebu province, the governor declared a state of calamity, allowing local officials to access more resources for relief efforts. Authorities claim that approximately 300,000 people were forced to evacuate to temporary shelters. At least 12 people were killed due to the typhoon. Meanwhile, Rai made its ninth landfall on Palawan province during the afternoon of 17 December before entering the South China Sea several hours later. On its current forecast path, the storm is expected to continue along a northwestern path and gradually weaken, although it is still expected to generate moderate to heavy rainfall throughout central and southern Vietnam and China’s Hainan province before dissipating by 22 December.

South Korea (Security threat level – 2): On 16 December 2021, authorities in South Korea announced that they will reintroduce some coronavirus-related restrictions nationwide from 18 December until 2 January 2022, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. Under the measures, private gatherings will be limited to four attendees and unvaccinated individuals may only dine alone or utilize takeout services at restaurants. Additionally, businesses such as restaurants, bars and nightclubs will be subject to a 2100 local time (1200 UTC) nightly curfew; movie theaters and concert venues must close by 2200 local time.


Palestinian Territories / Israel (Security threat levels – 4 / 4): On 17 December 2021, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) fired rubber-coated steel bullets and deployed tear gas at Palestinian protesters in the West Bank towns of Beita, Beit Dajan and Burqa. At least 102 people were injured — including at least 50 individuals in Beita, 19 people in Beit Dajan and three more in Burqa. Clashes also occurred in Kafr Qaddoum in Qalqilya Governorate. Meanwhile, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem, several dozen Palestinian residents threw chairs at Israeli security personnel. One security officer suffered minor injuries. Israeli officials detained two Palestinians during the incident.

The protests occurred after a Palestinian man opened fire on a car carrying three Israeli settlers traveling from the West Bank settlement of Homesh to the Shavei Shomron settlement. One Israeli was killed in the shooting. In response, Israeli authorities deployed three additional IDF battalions to the West Bank to pursue the gunman, blocking roadways and setting up checkpoints in the area of Homesh. A spokesperson for the Hamas militant group stated that such shootings targeting Israeli settlers will continue to occur in the West Bank; however, the group did not claim responsibility for the attack.

Analyst Comment: Tensions regarding Israeli settlements and land ownership have been rising during the past several months across the West Bank. Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood have engaged in a long-running court case against their eviction. This court case was the initial flashpoint for the May 2021 Hamas-Israeli conflict. The West Bank towns of Beita and Beit Dajan are located near an Israeli settlement and protests are frequent due to encroachment from the nearby settlement. Burqa is located near Homesh, where the attack against the Israeli settler took place.


Greece (Security threat level – 3): On 17 December 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Athens issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Event: PCR Test Required for Travelers to Greece Starting December 19

“Effective Sunday, December 19, 2021, travelers to Greece will be required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours or a laboratory rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of arrival to Greece, according to an announcement by the Greek Health Ministry. This testing requirement will apply to all travelers age 5 or above regardless of vaccination status or method of entry to Greece.

“Details of this change will be released by the Greek government soon. Please monitor Greek government websites Protocol for Arrivals in Greece, Destination Greece Health, and other official sources for more details once released. For further clarification, check with your airline and/or the closest Greek Embassy or consulate prior to travel. The U.S. Embassy in Athens cannot give you permission to enter Greece or request exceptions to Greece or EU travel restrictions. We also cannot assist you with interpreting Greek regulations beyond the information provided on the U.S. Embassy’s COVID Information Page. “