Leading into the Passover and summer travel seasons, Israel has raised travel warnings to the highest level, cautioning Israelis against traveling to Egypt’s Sinai region, Prime Minister’s Office Counter-Terrorism Bureau Chief Eitan Ben David said at a special media briefing on Monday.
Ben David said that “the threat has grown, including to Israelis in the coming period and is the gravest level of threat.”
“Attacks on the Egyptian military, on Coptic Christians…ISIS rockets fired at Eilat and videos from ISIS against Israelis show the high motivation and power of terror groups there [to attack Israelis],” said Ben David. “We don’t expect them [ISIS] to respect red-lines.”
While Sinai has the highest level of warning at level one of four, other countries also have high warning levels – with Turkey at level two (without special heightened warning for merely stopping over in Turkey’s airport) and Jordan along with Egypt at level three.
Level one signals “a very high concrete threat” with advice to avoid any travel to a destination and leave immediately. Level two means “a high concrete threat” with advice to avoid travel to a destination and leave as early as possible. Level three means “a basic-level concrete threat” with advice to avoid travel to a destination and level four is “a continuing potential threat” with advice to delay travel which is not essential.
Ben David said that most of the increased threat was presented by ISIS-affiliated groups, including, “that ISIS is losing ground in Iraq and Syria which is causing many runaways to places where it is easier to act.”
He said there is a big rise recently of ISIS-related terror attacks in Asia, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh as well as in North Africa in “places where there is less security control.”
The presentation emphasized that the threat was not unique to Israelis and that ISIS is in an increased terror mode also for targeting Christians and others.
Museums, market places, sporting events, airports, train stations, synagogues and mosques, big events and certain central hotels, especially in Africa, could all be primary targets for terrorists to inflict maximum mass casualties.
Ben David emphasized that they did not disregard threats from Iran, Hezbollah or others, but that in general the increased threat stemmed mainly from ISIS-related groups.