JERUSALEM/NEW DELHI: Israel has issued a warning for its citizens travelling to India ahead of the new year celebrations citing a “concrete basic threat” and advised to avoid parties and gatherings particularly in south-west part of the country.
“We are warning Israeli tourists in India of the possibility of imminent terrorist attacks against western targets and tourists, particularly in the southwest of that country,” Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau said yesterday in a statement, released by the Prime Minister’s office.
“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.
“Israeli tourists travelling in India have been 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 warning said.
Security sources here said that the parties on New Year’s Eve on the beaches of Goa are popular among Israeli youngsters and other western tourists. Such gatherings can be easy targets of certain hostile Islamic groups.
Israel has in the past issued such warnings too, especially for Goa, but this time the sources feel that all such places frequented by large number of western tourists in southern and western parts of India can be the target of a terror attack.
The south-west part of the country — which covers popular holiday destinations like Goa, Pune, Mumbai and Cochin — are particularly at risk, the warning said.
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.
Notably, the travel warning was published on Friday, after the start of the Jewish Sabbath, when government offices close for business.
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.–PTI