The Counter Terrorism Bureau (CTB) issued a stark travel advisory for the Sinai Peninsula Monday, indicating a clear and present danger to Israeli tourists visiting the area.
The Prime Minister's Office added that Israelis traveling to the area are now at severe risk of being abducted.
The CTB urged Israelis planning to travel to Sinai to revise their plans, and those already there to leave immediately.
A security official told Ynet there are currently between 300 and 400 Israelis in Sinai.
According to the CTB, increased Hizbullah activity
in the area has prompted the stern instructions. A travel advisory indicating the safety of Israelis traveling to Sinai cannot be guaranteed has been in place for
some time now.
The CTB did note, however, that the travel advisory does not forbid Israelis fromo travelling to the area; and that traveling abroad is at every individual's discretion.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the CTB's warning "should be taken very seriously" and called on all Israelis who are planning to travel to Sinai during the upcoming holiday season to "act responsibly and simply not go there anytime soon."
He added that "I am certain that there will be times when it will be possible to tour Sinai freely, but that time has not arrived yet."
Barak also addressed reports regarding attempts by terrorist groups to kidnap Israelis abroad last week.
Barak confirmed two such attempts have already been foiled.
"We've already, in conjunction with foreign authorities, thwarted at least two attacks in different corners of the globe," said Barak, adding that the motive behind the planned abductions is Hizbullah's quest for revenge following the death of Imad Mugniyah.
The risk is clear to us, especially for former senior military officers traveling to Muslim countries without security arrangements," the minister added.
The Counter Terrorism Bureau suggested that Israelis abroad should:
- Be aware of any irregular phenomenon.
- Refrain from visiting or residing in Arab/Muslim countries and others included in the advisory.
- Refuse every invitation or unexpected offer and refrain from receiving unexpected gifts or free recreational activity from suspicious or unknown people.
- Refuse invitations to unexpected encounters especially in remote places and only travel with reliable escorts.
- Refrain from allowing suspicious or unexpected visitors from entering hotel rooms or apartment buildings
- If stay abroad is extended, break patterns by switching hotels from time to time and altering habitual driving patterns, restaurants and forms of entertainment.
As part of the, “partial travel advisory,” the CTB noted that there are countries like Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey and Uzbekistan which are considered “a potential terror threat.”