Israel’s National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Division (NSCCTD) has issued its travel warnings for the 2023 spring holiday season as tourism to and from Israel gets underway.
Iran still constitutes the main global terrorist threat and is continuing to advance attacks on Israeli nationals around the world both directly and via its proxies in various countries while violating their sovereignty. In the last two years, several Iranian plans to attack Israeli and Jewish targets have been discovered and thwarted in Georgia, Turkey (Türkiye) and Cyprus, among other countries.
The NSCCTD said it believes that Iran will continue to use terrorist actions as a tool to achieve its main goals and will continue to advance attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets around the world.
Areas with the highest likelihood of such actions are those countries in proximity to Iran, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Bahrain as well as additional countries in the Mediterranean Sea basin (such as Greece and Cyprus), and the Middle East, including the Kurdish area in Iraq (which Israelis are prohibited from entering).
“It should be noted that the past year saw repeated efforts by Iranian terrorist elements to contact Israeli nationals, in Israel and abroad, online under false pretenses (including via social media) in order to attack or abduct them,” the NSCCTD warned.
The various global jihad and radical Islamic organizations (such as “Islamic State” – ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al-Shabab and others) continue to constitute a threat.
“Islamic State” (ISIS) has recently shown greater interest in attacking Israelis and Jews and has called on its supporters to attack such targets around the world, the NSCCTD said. These organizations are currently focusing their activity in Africa (especially the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and various central African countries), the Middle East (especially northern Sinai) and Asia (especially Afghanistan, the southern Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Kashmir district in India and various areas in Indonesia).
The NSCCTD recommended that Israelis in Sinai stay only in recognized tourist areas (the secured beaches and Sharm el-Sheikh) where the Egyptian security forces maintain a presence and avoid traveling in the interior or staying in isolated and unrecognized sites.
In recent years there has also been an increase in threats by racist and antisemitic terrorist elements (supporters of white supremacy, neo-Nazis, etc.). Jewish communities (as well as other minorities) have been a principal target, with religious and community institutions being a preferred target, especially during holidays.
For example, the synagogue in Halle, Germany was attacked on Yom Kippur (9 October 2019), the synagogue in Poway, CA. (USA) was attacked on the last day of Passover (27 April 2019), and the synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. (USA) was attacked on Shabbat (27 October 2018).
The main threatened areas in this regard are North America and Europe. It will be recalled that only last month, a man motivated by antisemitism shot and wounded two Jews who had just exited a synagogue in Los Angeles and that neo-Nazi organizations declared a day of national hate against Jews.
“The Islamic holy month of Ramadan (March 23 – April 23) partly coincides with other spring holidays and sensitive memorial days,” the NSCCTD said. “Experience has shown that exceptional security events in Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount) and [elsewhere in Israel] will likely influence the growing motivation of various terrorists to carry out attacks against Israelis abroad.”
The NSCCTD called on people planning to travel abroad to check the status of travel warnings to their anticipated destinations before buying tickets, at the following (Hebrew!) link: https://www.gov.il/he/departments/news/nsc-news-passover23
The National Security Council is responsible for travel warnings vis-à-vis terrorism only. Other issues (consular matters, warnings to Israelis regarding combat zones, political instability and crime) are dealt with by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; travelers should also check the relevant sites as necessary.