Ahead of Jewish High Holy Days, Israel releases travel advisory for Europe
Ahead of the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days, Israel has released a travel advisory warning that Jewish sites in Western and northern Europe could be targeted in terror attacks, the European Jewish Press reports.
According to the National Security Council’s Counter- Terrorism Bureau in Jerusalem, one of the main threats is plots against Israeli and Jewish targets in northern and Western Europe by ISIS operatives who have returned from fighting in Iraq and Syria. That said, they see Israel as a sort of “secondary target” for these potential terrorists, who are believed to be more likely to attack targets identified with the establishment in their own countries in the West.
The head of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, Eitan Ben-David, said the Iran deal has not altered the potential threats posed by Shi’ite terrorist groups to Israelis abroad.
At a briefing with reporters ahead of the upcoming High Holy Days, – one of the busiest times of the year for Israeli vacationers –Ben-David said that “the Shi’ite terrorist campaign continues and we can’t say that, because of any deal signed with Iran, that the threat has diminished.”
He added that Iran’s capabilities as a terrorist state to fund and execute attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets aboard has not changed since the deal was signed last month.
The advisory said that attacks this year by radical Islamists in Denmark, France, Australia, Belgium, and Canada “give rise to fears of additional attacks on Western targets, including Israeli and Jewish targets.”
It also maintained that Jewish sites and leaders — “Chabad houses, community leaders, rabbis” — remain under constant threat of attack by Hezbollah and Iran.
Israel’s Channel 2 reported that Israel has formally asked for assistance in protecting Jewish targets from the security authorities in India, Thailand — notably at Chabad facilities — and the Ukraine, where tens of thousands of Israelis make an annual Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) pilgrimage to the Uman burial site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev.
Iran and Lebanon topped the list of most dangerous countries, with a “very high concrete threat,” while war-torn Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen were listed in sixth to tenth place, respectively. Overall, 27 countries were spotlighted in the advisory, with various levels of security threats.
The warnings urged Israelis to keep out of Turkey, citing an “ongoing potential threat.” Turkey was the third-most visited country this summer among Israelis.
The travel warning, which emphasised that the information was not new but merely a reiteration of ongoing threats, also encouraged Israelis in the Sinai Peninsula to leave the area immediately, and warned tourists not to visit the once-popular destination under any circumstance. The threat comes after the Islamic State affiliate in Sinai has carried out repeated attacks against Egyptian soldiers and foreigners.
The travel advisory encourages Israelis abroad to be vigilant and avoid “unexpected” offers and late-night meetings in deserted areas.
(Photo of Istanbul: Liana Bitoli)