Israel warns citizens not to travel to India, cites terror threats
Israel has warned that tourists travelling to south-west India are especially vulnerable. Photograph: (Reuters)
Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau has warned Israelis travelling to India to be on "alert", citing an immediate threat of attack against Western and tourist targets particularly in the south-west of the country.
In a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau singled out Western and tourist hot-spots as being at heightened risk.
"Israeli tourists travelling in India are asked to stay alert and to pay attention to local media reports and security agencies. Furthermore, families with relatives in India" are asked to update them about the travel warning and recommendation, the statement said yesterday.
"We ask to focus on events in the coming days related to the Christian New Year's holiday, placing particular emphasis on beach parties and clubs, where there is larger concentration of tourists," it said.
The south-west part of the country -- which covers popular holiday destinations like Goa, Pune, Mumbai and Cochin -- are particularly at risk, according to the advisory.
The warning is defined a "concrete basic threat," according to Israel's Channel 2 television.
Security sources in Tel Aviv said that the trance parties on new year's eve on the beaches of Goa are very popular among Israeli youngsters and other western tourists. Such gatherings can be easy targets of certain hostile Islamic groups.
Israel has in the past also issued such warning, especially for Goa, but this time security sources feel all such places frequented by large number of western tourists in south and west of India can be a target of terror attack.
The advisory coming out on Friday evening after the start of Jewish Sabbath has been noted by the local media as a bit "unusual" and by some also as sign of a "serious threat."
An Israeli Embassy spokesman in New Delhi confirmed the warning and said, "Israel has issued a travel advisory surrounding New Year's Eve celebrations events in south-west India, with specific regard to beach parties, clubs and highly-populated tourist sites. Israeli tourist are advised to avoid such events and other densely-populated areas."
In addition, it recommended avoiding markets, festivals and crowded shopping areas.
The bureau did not specify what prompted the warning, however, additional security arrangements have been made all around the world for New Year eve in view of the Berlin terror attack on a Christmas market last week that killed 12 people.
India remains a popular tourist destination for Israeli citizens and according to Jewish Post an estimated 20,000 former Israeli soldiers travel to India every year.
Israeli citizens and Jewish sites in India have been attacked in the past, the most infamous incident occurred during the 2008 Mumbai terror attack when members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group targeted the local Chabad House, among other sites, in Mumbai.
In 2012, Tal Yehoshua Koren, the wife of an Israeli Defense Ministry representative, was moderately wounded in an explosion in her car near the Israeli embassy in New Delhi.