Israeli authorities on Monday issued severe travel warnings urging Israeli travelers to avoid places where they would be prime targets for jihadist terrorists, including Turkey and much of the Middle East.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are expected to travel overseas during the parade of Jewish holidays which starts with the Jewish new year on September 20 and ends with the Sukkot festival, from October 4 to 12, when most travelers head abroad.
The Counter-Terrorism Bureau in the Prime Minister’s Office, which issues the warnings ahead of most holiday seasons, noted that the list includes some of the most popular tourist destinations for Israelis, including the Sinai Peninsula and Turkey.
Warnings were also in effect for Jordan and the rest of Egypt.
In all those places, terror groups are known to be planning attacks in crowded areas, and may be looking to target areas where large groups of vacationing Israelis are likely to be found.
The most severe warning is for the Sinai, where beachfront tourist venues have long drawn many tens of thousands of Israelis during prime vacation periods.
The Bureau noted that Sinai was struck by Islamist terror as recently as mid-April, when Islamic State gunmen attacked a checkpoint near Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the peninsula, only one of countless recent incidents of bloodshed in an ongoing Islamist insurgency.
On Thursday, 18 Egyptian police were killed in an attack in northern Sinai.
Israelis should avoid travel to Sinai in the foreseeable future, and leave the peninsula immediately if they are already there, the warning stated.
Turkey, too, came in for special mention, with the warning noting that Istanbul and other Turkish cities have been the target of a wave of both Islamist and Kurdish separatist terror attacks in recent years, and that Israeli institutions have been especially targeted on occasion.
The Bureau urged Israelis to remain vigilant wherever they travel, noting that terrorists have struck recently in Western European capitals and in North America as well.
Vigilance is especially important in areas frequented by large crowds, such as sports stadiums, popular tourist sites and public transportation hubs, the warning said.