While US warns travelers, Israel already on high alert

Following bin Laden death, defense establishment says Israel was previously on alert due to fears of Hezbollah attack.

By
May 2, 2011 20:50
2 minute read.
[illustrative photo]

Police car in Tel Aviv at night 311. (photo credit: Yoni Cohen)

 
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The defense establishment held a number of security consultations on Monday to assess the threat level and possible security implications that the killing of Osama bin Laden could have for Israel.

A senior security official said Monday that the country was not altering any of its existing travel advisories for the time being. The defense establishment has been on high alert for several months already due to concerns that Hezbollah is planning an imminent attack against an Israeli target overseas to avenge the 2008 assassination of its military commander, Imad Mughniyeh.

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Following bin Laden’s death, the US State Department issued an urgent “Worldwide Caution” in which it urged US citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance when traveling overseas. The caution warns specifically of al- Qaida plans to attack US and European interests in Europe as well as US interests in North Africa and the Middle East.

“Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against US interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” the State Department caution said. “These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.”

Defense officials warned of the possibility that terrorist organizations – possibly global jihadi groups based in the Gaza Strip that are known to be ideologically affiliated with al-Qaida – could use the death of bin Laden as an excuse to increase terrorist activity against Israel.

Other al-Qaida-affiliated groups are believed to operate in the Sinai Peninsula as well as in Southern Lebanon. In the past, some have been responsible for firing Katyusha rockets into Israel.

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Two weeks ago, Israeli officials said that security had been stepped up at potential Jewish and Israeli targets overseas and named Hezbollah operative Talal Hamia as the commander of a small but well-organized terror cell that had been tasked by the Iranian-backed terror group with carrying out the attack.

Hamia is alleged to have been involved in the 1992 and 1994 bombings in Buenos Aires that targeted the Israeli Embassy and the AMIA Jewish community center.

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