Passengers at Ben Gurion International Airport on October 31, 2021. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Israel is warning its citizens of possible terrorist attacks on Israelis traveling abroad on the upcoming Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – the New Year and Day of Atonement.
The Counter-Terrorism Branch of the National Security Council of the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel problematic a travel warning to citizens saying Iran and Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS have “high motivation” to target traveling Israelis and Jews during the holidays. The High Holidays are some of the most popular times of year for Israelis to travel abroad.
To told the Counter-Terrorism Department: “In recent years, the Iranians and their proxies have increased their activities abroad aimed at targeting Israelis.”
The warning said attacks could take place anywhere – even in Europe.
“We estimate that Iran will continue to act in the near future to fuel attacks on Israeli targets around the world, both in the countries close to Iran and in western countries such as Europe,” the department wrote. “This is backed up by outspoken statements by leaders of organizations calling for harm to Israelis and Jews.”
Israelis planning to travel abroad over the holiday have been urged to check individual country travel advisories before purchasing their tickets. The Counter-Terrorism Department said terrorist groups have a particularly heavy presence in the Sinai Peninsula, the Middle East in general, and Africa and Asia.
While these groups may have less of a presence in Europe, Israeli security officials have specifically warned of the possibility of attacks there as well.
The security officials said several Iranian attempts to target or kidnap its own dissidents on the continent have recently been foiled and that its existing terror capabilities in Europe may instead be aimed at Israelis.
“There has been activity in Western Europe and Scandinavia against opposition figures and also reports of activity against American officials on European soil,” a security source said said Ynet. “Wherever they are able to act and have infrastructure and opportunities, they will not hesitate to act.”
Although security officials told Israeli media that no concrete threats against Israelis have yet been uncovered, “we must keep our eyes open.”
In May and June, Israelis were warned not to travel to Turkey, citing imminent Iranian terrorist threats following the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodai in May, which Iran blamed on Israel and announced revenge.
“We call on Israelis not to fly to Istanbul – and unless you have an important reason, do not fly to Turkey. If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible,” said Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said back then. “These terrorist threats are aimed at vacationers in Israel. They randomly but deliberately select Israeli citizens to kidnap or murder.”
In his embassy, Lapid also conveyed a message to the Iranians.
“Whoever harms Israelis will not get away with it. Israel’s long arm will get them no matter where they are,” he said.
Around the same time, Mossad and its Turkish counterpart foiled Iranian plans to kidnap and kill a former Israeli ambassador to Israel and his wife while they were vacationing in Turkey.
Recently, security forces in Thailand, another popular vacation spot, thwarted several Iranian attempts to attack Westerners and Israelis and prevented the establishment of an Iranian terrorist cell that could have been used against Israeli targets.