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Israel warns on travel to India, citing immediate threat of attacks

Jerusalem: Israel today issued an “immediateand severe” travel warning for Western tourists in India, citing an immediate threat of attack on tourist targets during New Year celebrations, 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 anti-terrorism directorate said in a statement released by the Prime Minister’s office.

“A particular emphasis should be put on events in the coming days in connection with beach and club parties celebrating the New Year where a concentration of tourists will be high,” the warning said.

The south-west part of the country — which covers popular holiday destinations like Goa, Pune, Mumbai and Cochin — are particularly at risk, it said.

The statement further recommended that tourists avoid participation in beach and New Year parties at popular tourist spots.

“Israeli tourists traveling in India are asked to stay alert and to pay attention to local media reports and security agencies,” it added.

Meanwhile, 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 densly-populated areas.”

The warning also called on Israeli families to contact their relatives in India and tell them of the threat. 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 directorate 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 the Pakistani-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) 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