Tourists in sinai 224.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Hizbullah has stepped up its efforts to kidnap Israelis in recent weeks, a top official in the Counter-Terrorism Bureau told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, as a new travel advisory was issued warning Israelis not to travel to Sinai and southern Thailand.
"Hizbullah wants to harm and mainly kidnap Israelis," said Brig.-Gen. (res.) Elkana Har-Nof, a top official in the bureau. "The group has increased its efforts in recent weeks."
The bureau's new travel advisory comes ahead of the High Holy Days later this month, when tens of thousands of Israelis are expected to travel abroad. Last month, the bureau issued a general travel advisory warning of Hizbullah's plans to kidnap Israeli nationals in retaliation for the February assassination of arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, which Hizbullah blames on the Mossad.
"We are concerned with people who spend a lot of time abroad," Har-Nof said. "In order to plan to kidnap someone you need to be able to track him for a long time, and this can apply to businessmen."
Earlier this week the bureau revealed that two attempts by Hizbullah to kidnap Israelis overseas had been foiled. On Wednesday, a defense official revealed that a terror cell in Toronto had been spotted tracking an EL AL flight crew on a stopover in the city.
While the Hizbullah threat was mainly against businessmen, Har-Nof said that there were cases when regular Israeli tourists were also targeted. "The threat is against all Israelis," he said.
With regard to Sinai, Israel fears that terror cells have used the current cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza to infiltrate Egypt, where they are currently searching for Israelis to either kidnap or murder. Israel is also concerned with the possibility that a large number of terrorists may have crossed into Sinai over the weekend after Egypt decided to open the Rafah border crossing for two days ahead of Ramadan.
Alongside its warnings, the bureau also published a list of recommendations for Israelis traveling abroad: maintain a high level of alert; avoid visiting Muslim or Arab countries; avoid unexpected and seductive business or pleasure proposals; reject impromptu meetings, particularly in isolated areas; don't let strangers into hotel rooms and break routines when abroad for an extended period of time.
Har-Nof said that the Hizbullah threat was primarily in Western Africa, South America and Southeast Asia.
"We recommend not visiting there since we have intelligence about [Hizbullah] plans and also since there are Shi'ite communities there which can be used by Hizbullah as a platform for attacks," he said.
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