The National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Division (NSCCTD), today (Thursday, 31 August 2023), has issued its terrorist threat assessment for Israelis abroad and the travel warnings for the 2023 fall holidays, in order to raise the awareness of the Israeli public regarding terrorist threats to it in various places around the world and the taking of appropriate actions. It should be emphasized that this is an updated summary of the main trends in terrorist activity around the world and its influence on the threat level to Israelis abroad and not new travel warnings.
To this end, an updated list of travel warnings for Israelis abroad in all countries is herein submitted as well as recommendations for conduct in countries with various levels of risk. This list is current and will be continuously updated; it is accessible 24/7 throughout the year both on the National Security Council website and at 02-6667444.
1. Iran still constitutes the main global terrorist threat and is continuing to promote attacks on Israeli nationals around the world both directly and via proxies that it operates, in various countries while violating their sovereignty.
2. Iranian terrorists are continuing their attempts to contact Israeli nationals, in Israel and abroad, under business covers or by impersonating other elements, in order to attack or abduct them. Several Iranian attempts to attack Israeli and Jewish targets have been thwarted in the past year.
3. The various global jihad and radical Islamic organizations are continuing to carry out attacks at various sites around the world. These organizations have recently shown greater interest in attacking Israelis and Jews and has called on its supporters to attack such targets around the world. Lone wolf terrorists, who are inspired by these organizations and who are liable to carry out attacks against Israelis and Jews, are a principal threat.
4. It should be noted that these organizations are currently focusing their activity in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe alongside more sporadic efforts in additional countries.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad
5. Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives have recently shown high motivation to carry out abductions in Israel in order to obtain bargaining chips vis-à-vis Israel. These organizations aspire to carry abductions of Israelis and / or Jews abroad especially given Hamas’ notion that the contacts on the captive and missing are at a stalemate become stuck and pressure on the organization to resolve the issue. Hamas Chairman Ismail Haniye has even publicly declared that, “Hamas will not hesitate to carry out abductions,” and that, “We hold four prisoners and if this is not enough to persuade Israel to make a deal, we will carry out more abductions through our arms which reach everywhere.”
The extreme Right
6. Jewish communities (as well as other minorities) have been a principal target with religious and community institutions being a preferred target, especially during holidays. In recent years, religious institutions have been attacked throughout Europe and [North] America for ideological and anti-Semitic motives.
7. Areas with the highest likelihood of Iranian terrorist activity are those countries in proximity to Iran (such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Türkiye and the Kurdish area), the Mediterranean Sea basin, Africa and Latin America.
8. Given that Sinai is still a threat area, the NSCCTD recommends 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.
9. There has recently been an increase in the potential terrorist threat in Sweden and Denmark due to incidents of Quran burning. Sweden has raised domestic threat level to high. Please monitor events (also in light of possible spillover to additional countries).
Prohibition on the Entry of Israelis to Enemy Countries
10. According to Israeli law, Israelis are absolutely prohibited from traveling to enemy countries (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran), even for dual nationals who hold additional passports. Israelis in these countries are at veru high risk of abduction or attacks on their lives.
11. In this context, it will be noted that academic researcher Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli citizen who also holds a Russian passport, was abducted by a Shiite militia while she was illegally present in Iraq.
The NSCCTD calls on the Israeli public to continue to travel abroad but to be alert, to act responsibly as per the threat level in the country they are in, and to strictly adhere to the recommendations detailed below. In high-risk countries, Israelis must show greater caution and avoid external indicators of their being Israelis and / or Jews. The NSCCTD recommends that the public monitor the status of the NSCCTD travel warnings. As has been shown in the past year, these warnings are based on, and reflect, concrete and valid potential threats. The NSCCTD again calls on those planning to travel abroad to check the status of the travel warnings to their intended destinations before purchasing tickets.
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.