Israel warns Jewish travelers of kidnapping threat by terror groups overseas

Ahead of peak travel period during the High Holidays, the National Security Council listed terror threats by Iran, Hamas and other groups.

By World Israel News Staff

Ahead of the Jewish High Holidays in September, Israel issued an updated travel advisory on Thursday, underscoring concerns over the threat of kidnappings by Iranian-backed groups and Hamas.

The advisory, released by the National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau, highlights continuous efforts by Iranian entities, often disguised as businessmen, to abduct Israelis abroad.

Apart from Iran and its terror proxies, international Jihadist and Islamic extremist organizations persist in their global campaigns of terror, the advisory noted. Notably, there’s a rising interest in specifically targeting Israeli and Jewish individuals, with lone-wolf attackers presenting a particular concern. These organizations are most active in regions like Africa, Asia, and Europe, but sporadic attempts have been observed in other countries.

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) also feature prominently in the NSC’s report. The Gaza-based terror groups are currently motivated to launch attacks in Israel to secure “bargaining chips.” This motivation aligns with Hamas’ recent stance on stalled negotiations over prisoners of war and missing in action personnel. Hamas chief, Ismail Haniyeh, even made a bold declaration, suggesting that Hamas might resort to kidnappings.

The far-right also poses significant threats. Jewish communities, especially during the holidays, and their religious institutions in Europe and America have been the target of antisemitic hate crimes.

Regarding specific regions of concern, countries neighboring Iran, such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Kurdistan, are considered high-risk zones. The Sinai Peninsula remains a vulnerable area, with the NSC advising against venturing beyond recognized tourist spots that are guarded. The council also noted an uptick in terror threats in Sweden and Denmark linked to the recent Quran burnings, leading Sweden to escalate its domestic terror threat level.

Travel to enemy states, including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran, is forbidden for Israelis, even those with dual citizenship. The advisory cites the case of Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli-Russian citizen, who faced abduction in Iraq by the Shiite militia group, Kata’ib Hezbollah, underscoring the risks.