Government Warns Israelis to Leave Sinai

The government's counterterrorism unit yesterday warned of concrete terror threats against Israelis travelling abroad, especially in Sinai, Thailand and Turkey.

While the counterterrorism bureau already issued the warning a number of weeks ago, it chose to reiterate it ahead of the High Holidays at the end of September, a time when many Israelis holiday abroad.

The bureau, a branch of the Prime Minister's Office, advised Israelis currently in Egypt, and in particular in Sinai, to leave immediately.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday confirmed that Israel security forces had recently foiled two attempts by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah to kidnap Israeli businessmen abroad.

Last month, new intelligence on Hezbollah's intentions to abduct Israelis abroad prompted the bureau to issue a warning to travelers, who were advised to take special precautions.

In its warning, the unit explained that intelligence reports suggested Hezbollah was planning abductions as revenge for the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, the militia's operations chief, who was killed in a Damascus car bombing in February. Israel has denied any involvement in the bombing.

The counterterrorism unit stressed that a continuous threat exists in Thailand called upon Israeli citizens to avoid unnecessary visits. The unit warned that a potential threat also exists in the Philippines, Turkey and Uzbekistan.