The Israeli defense establishment has been able to foil five attempted kidnappings of Israeli businessmen, operating aboard, by Hizbullah, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Tuesday.
A senior security source told the paper that "this was a concentrated effort by Hizbullah, backed by Iran, to carry out kidnappings in retaliation for the assassination of top Hizbullah operative Imad Mugniyah. "Hizbullah," he said, "is scouring for prey, and it's going country by county."
All the attempted were foiled with the assistance of foreign intelligence agencies, who are acutely aware of Hizbullah and Iran's declared vendetta.
The defense establishment has apparently cautioned several prominent businessmen, who travel extensively, of such attempts.
"We're working under the assumption that there may be an attempt to kidnap them, but there very well may be an attempt on their lives. We're monitoring this situation very closely," said the security source.
"Several businessmen owe their lives and their freedom to this emergency operation; which was largely facilitated thanks to the cooperation we received from various foreign intelligence agencies."
The American media reported recently of several attempts made by Hizbullah sleeper-cells in the US to target Jewish institutions in the US and Canada. The Foreign Ministry and the Shin Bet have also recalled several Israeli emissaries from countries deemed to have a volatile security situation.
Security sources told Yedioth Ahronoth that Israel is equally concerned about known Hamas' intentions to abduct soldiers, in at attempt to shift the balance of power in any future negotiation for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas operates under the assumption that kidnapping more Israeli soldiers would enable it to double, if not triple, the price for the release if kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, leaving Israel virtually powerless to refuse.
The Counter Terrorism Bureau issued a rare, worldwide travel advisory for Israelis recently, warning of possible attempts by Hizbullah to kidnap or harm Israelis abroad.