Israel warns citizens of kidnapping threats ahead of holidays

File photo: Israeli police guard the Lions Gate of Jerusalem's Old City. Picture: Xinhua

File photo: Israeli police guard the Lions Gate of Jerusalem's Old City. Picture: Xinhua

Published Sep 1, 2023


Israel issued a warning on Thursday for its citizens about the possibility of kidnappings by Iranian-backed groups and Palestinian militant groups both within Israel and abroad.

The warning was issued by Israel's National Security Council ahead of the Jewish high holidays in mid-September, a time when many Israelis go on vacations.

The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ), two armed Palestinian groups, "have been highly motivated recently to carry out kidnappings within the country in order to increase their bargaining chips," the National Security Council said in a statement.

According to the council, the kidnapping attempts come after Hamas failed to reach a swap deal with Israel to release bodies of Israeli soldiers who have been held in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

"It is not impossible that the organisations will strive to launch kidnapping attacks on Israelis and Jews outside the country's borders," the council added.

The council also warned of possible attacks by Iranian-backed groups. Iranian intelligence service "continues its attempts to contact Israeli citizens in Israel and abroad by pretending to be businesspeople," it said.

Israeli travellers face greater risks in countries near Iran, including Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Türkiye, as well as Mediterranean countries and Africa, according to the council.

The council specifically urged Israelis with double nationality not to travel to countries with which Israel has no official ties, after Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli-Russian graduate student at Princeton University, was kidnapped by militia in Baghdad in March.