Thai soldiers prepare to deploy around the Army Club in Bangkok May 20, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Foreign Ministry issued a travel advisory for Thailand on Tuesday, warning Israelis to remain vigilant after the southeast Asian country's army declared martial law earlier in the day.
The preservation of law and order in the country, which is a central holiday travel destination for Israelis, was in the hands of the Thai army Tuesday, although the military insisted that the intervention is not a coup.
The move came after six months of street protests that have left the country without a proper functioning government. The Foreign Ministry warned Israelis in the country to refrain from arriving at areas in which protests are taking place, to stay away from events which are political in nature and to stay away from areas where security forces are concentrated.
The travel advisory referred to the situation in Thailand as "sensitive and unpredictable."
"Be alert and extra cautious, act in accordance with instructions from local authorities and stay tuned to media reports," the Foreign Ministry advised.
While troops patrolled parts of Bangkok and army spokesmen took to the airwaves, the caretaker government led by supporters of self-exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra said it was still running the country.
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said the military had stepped in to restore order and build investor confidence, and warned that troops would take action against anyone who used weapons and harmed civilians.
"We ask all sides to come and talk to find a way out for the country," Prayuth told reporters after meeting directors of government agencies and other high-ranking officials.
Military officials said they were not interfering with the caretaker government, but ministers were not informed of the army's plan before an announcement on television at 3 a.m. (2000 GMT on Monday) and Prayuth said martial law would be maintained until peace and order had been restored.
Twenty-eight people have been killed and 700 injured since the anti-government protests began in November last year.
The crisis is the latest chapter in a near-decade-long power struggle between former telecoms tycoon Thaksin and the royalist establishment that has brought the country to the brink of recession and even raised fears of civil war.
Troops, some in jeeps mounted with machine guns, stopped some traffic from entering Bangkok after the martial law order. They also took up position at intersections and secured television stations, but life went on as normal in most of the city.