Tight security for Pesach as fewer Israelis travel abroad
PMO: 'Grave and immediate' intel concerning Gaza terrorists seeking to abduct Israelis in Sinai.
Security forces throughout Israel will be put on high alert and synagogues will be guarded by Civil Guard volunteers during Pesach.
Police officials say the motivation of terror organizations to carry out an attack during the holiday is "on the rise."
Law enforcement officials pointed to numerous foiled and sucessful attacks in recent weeks, including the attempt to run over soldiers in East Jerusalem Tuesday, the car bomb discovered near a Haifa mall late last month, the murder of Shlomo Nativ in the Bat Ayin settlement and the attempted shooting at a Border Police base in the Negev, both last week. They said the trend is expected to last for at least several weeks.
Beginning on Passover Eve tonight, security will be raised to Level 3, the second-highest level. Most of the country's synagogues will be guarded by Civil Guard volunteers during holiday services, and thousands of police officers will be deployed in major population centers and on the roads. Stationary and "flying" checkpoints will be set up at the entrances to cities.
Sinai terror warning
Terror alerts have also been issued for Sinai, a popular Pesach travel destination for Israelis. The Counter-Terrorism Bureau in the Prime Minister's Office said Tuesday it had "grave and immediate" intelligence concerning Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip who are operating in Sinai under Hezbollah direction and sponsorship and seek to abduct Israelis vacationing in the area during Pesach. Bureau official Elkana Har Nof noted that the warnings were not specific, but stressed that even "a few hundred Israeli tourists represent a fat target for terrorists."
Despite the warnings, some 30,000 people are expected to cross the Taba border terminal between Israel and Egypt, the Israeli Airport Authority said Tuesday. This still represents a decline of approximately 25% since last year's holiday. Some 54,000 passengers on about 900 flights are expected to visit Eilat.
About 494,000 passengers are expected to pass through Ben-Gurion International Airport during the holiday week, an 8% decline compared to last year.
The leading destinations this year are Turkey, the United States, England, Italy and Germany. The highest-traffic day at the airport is expected to be April 19, with 285 flights and 44,000 passengers.
The decline in the number of Israeli travelers is mainly attributed to the economic crisis.
The IAA also said that the Sheikh Hussein Bridge Terminal between Israel and Jordan is expected to close early tonight, at 8 P.M.
Passengers intending to use the terminal from either side are requested to arrive by 7 P.M. at the latest.