Israel over the weekend has issued a travel warning for nonessential trips to the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Bahrain, citing danger from terror actors present in those countries ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
The warning came from the National Security Council ahead of the holiday, which begins April 15, when many Israelis travel abroad.
The NSC also warned Israelis to refrain from traveling to the northern Sinai Peninsula because of the presence of Islamic State operatives there, and urged increased vigilance even when visiting the southern Sinai – which includes the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Of the 198 countries in the world, Israel has issued travel warnings of various levels for 48. In six countries travel is prohibited by law for any Israeli citizen, including Israelis who have multiple citizenships, including Iran, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
The travel warnings have been updated and changed, with the approval of the security cabinet, and divided into four levels.
Level 1: A country without any unusual warning and it is recommended to take normal precautions. Level 2: Occasional threat, with a recommendation for increased precautions. Level 3: A medium threat, it is recommended to avoid non-essential travel. Level 4: A high threat, it is recommended to avoid those countries altogether.
The NSC stated in its recommendation avoiding non-essential trips to the United Arab Emirates which is classified as a medium threat level (level 3).
“There are various terrorist activities in the UAE, and it poses a real risk to Israelis who stay or visit the country,” the travel warning said. “Recently, the Houthi movement in Yemen and Iraqi (pro-Iranian) militias, carried out attacks on areas of the country using unmanned drones, which could pose a risk to Israelis visiting.”
Even in Turkey, the threat level is moderate – level 3 – with a call to avoid non-essential travel.
According to the IDF, there are terror operatives present in Turkey affiliated with various militant organizations, including global jihadi groups.
“These are direct risks to Israelis staying in the country, therefore, it is recommended that you use increased caution when visiting Turkey,” the statement said. Recommendation to avoid non-essential travel were also issued for Bahrain – a level 3 threat.
Morocco, another Muslim country and a popular a tourist destination among Israelis, has seen its threat level remain at 1 – the lowest – and there are no travel warnings in place.
Neighboring Jordan was ranked at level 2 threat barrier, with a recommendation for increased precautions due to continued terrorist threats and the hostility of some of the Jordanian public towards Israel.
Northern parts of Egypt’s Sinai was given the highest threat level.
“In northern Sinai, attacks were carried out by a branch of the Islamic State, which has threatened Israel and Israelis. There is also concern that IS operatives will attempt attacks, including on tourist destinations in southern Sinai,” the warning added.
Threat level for southern Sinai is relatively low, level 2, but it is recommended to take increased precautions.
“In the past year and a half, Iran and its proxies have increased their activities abroad. As a result, Iranian officials are again threatening to attack Israeli and Jewish targets, as they express increased motivation,” the NSC said.
“In 2021, several Iranian attacks including assassination plots against Israelis were thwarted – in Colombia, Cyprus and Turkey. According to our estimations, the coming period Iran will continue to act to promote attacks on Israeli targets around the world. Areas with a higher probability of such activity are countries near Iran, as well as enemy states or those Israel does not have official relations with,” the NSC said.
“In recent months, we have witnessed increasing attempts by Iranian operatives to contact Israelis in order to get them out of the country and cause them harm. Following the guidelines outlined in the travel warnings may reduce the chances of such efforts to succeed,” the NSC added.
“The Islamic State and the rest of the global jihadi organizations continue to demonstrate motivation to carry out attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets, in various countries around the world. These organizations have extensive infrastructure in place and have been active in Africa, the Middle East (especially northern Sinai), and Asia.”