Ahead of High Holidays, Israel warns travelers of Iranian kidnapping threats

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Passengers head to the departure gates at Ben Gurion International Airport, June 6, 2022. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
Passengers head to the departure gates at Ben Gurion International Airport, June 6, 2022. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The National Security Council puts out an updated set of travel warnings ahead of the Jewish High Holidays next month, placing a particular emphasis on the threat of kidnapping abroad by Iranian-backed groups and within Israel by Hamas.

The warnings, put out by the NSC’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau, indicate that Iranian forces and their proxies are continuing their efforts to contact Israelis abroad under the guise of businessmen, in order to kidnap them. Jews and Israelis in countries bordering Iran, or in Africa or the Mediterranean Basin, face a particular threat from Iranian operatives.

Within Israel, says the NSC, Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad are eager to kidnap Israelis to use as bargaining chips. They also may seek to kidnap Israelis abroad, according to the warning, noting that indirect negotiations for the return of Israelis held in Gaza have reached an impasse.

Last year, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said that if Israel does not come to a prisoner accord with the terror group, it will kidnap more Israelis. “We have four prisoners, and if Israel is not convinced by that, then we will add to our stash,” Haniyeh said at the time in comments circulated in official Hamas media.

Israel adds that there is an elevated threat in Sweden and Denmark in the wake of recent Quran-burning incidents.

The NSC also warns of the threat of attacks from antisemitic far-right elements in the US and in Europe around the High Holidays.

Many Israelis head to the Sinai Peninsula over the holidays and Israel warns tourists to stay at known sites protected by security forces, and not to travel into the interior of the peninsula.

In the wake of the kidnapping in Iraq earlier this year of Israeli researcher Elizabeth Tsurkov, Israel reiterates the total ban on traveling to enemy countries.

Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.