Transportation Ministry Warns Israelis in European Resorts to Stay Vigilant

Head of security in Transportation Ministry tells Haaretz he had asked European security services 'to tighten security around groups of Israelis in various resorts like ski resorts and hotels.'

The Transportation Ministry yesterday asked security agencies in a number of European countries to increase security around groups of Israeli tourists, despite statements from the Foreign Ministry, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau and the Bulgarian secret services dismissing any current, credible terror threats to Israelis in Europe.

Danny Shenar, head of security in the Transportation Ministry, told Haaretz he had asked European security services "to tighten security around groups of Israelis in various resorts like ski resorts and hotels."

"I asked to formally tighten security because I am worried about a security-related incident," Shenar said, adding, "I've asked security services in Europe to escort groups of Israelis and conduct searches with tracking dogs."

He focused on Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, as the main threat target site, but said "other places should not be ignored."

Shenar said Israelis who are currently in Europe should remain vigilant and alert to suspicious activity.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor, however, said yesterday there was no intelligence information regarding terror plots against Israelis in Bulgaria.

A senior figure in the Counter-Terrorism Bureau said last night that the event that sparked Shenar's concerns occurred three weeks ago.

"It's not clear to us why the Transportation Ministry issued these warnings - in our opinion there is no cause for concern when it comes to traveling to Bulgaria," he said.

Israeli intelligence experts believe that the assassination in February 2008 of Imad Mughniyeh, one of Hezbollah's top leaders, which the organization attributed to Israel, upset the balance of deterrence between Israel and Hezbollah to a degree that could lead the organization to carrying out terror attacks against Israelis abroad.

The Bulgarian secret services yesterday issued a statement saying they had no information about plans by Hezbollah to attack Israeli citizens on Bulgarian soil.

In January 2009 the website of the British newspaper The Times reported that Hezbollah planned to blow up the Israeli embassy in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and in October of that year Turkey claimed it had foiled a Hezbollah plot to attack Israelis there. That plan allegedly was to have been carried out by Iranian agents staying in Turkey while pretending to be tourists. The Turkish security forces, acting on intelligence passed on by the intelligence community of another Western state, got wind of the plot.

In January 2010 an assassination scheme targeting Israeli diplomats in Jordan was foiled.