11:26 GMT +325 June 2018
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    Israelis shop before the Jewish holiday of Passover in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda food market.

    Israel Warns Tourists Against Travel to Europe Amid Terror Threat

    © AP Photo / Elizabeth Dalziel
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    The Israeli National Security Council's Counterterrorism Bureau has issued a series of travel warnings for Israelis planning to spend the approaching High Holidays abroad.

    From September 21 to October 12, four major Jewish holidays are celebrated in Israel and around the world, one after another. It all starts with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, which is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. Then follows Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, where Jews reflect on their deeds over the past year. On October 5 starts a 7-day festival called Sukkot. And, finally, there is Simchat Torah, where Jews finish the annual cycle of reading the Torah and begin anew.

    The bureau cautioned Israelis of possible attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad during the national holidays. Most of the issued travel warnings relate to Arab and "enemy" countries such as Syria, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. But this year Israelis were also advised to refrain from visiting western and northern Europe.

    According to the bureau, one of the main threats is terror plots by Daesh operatives who have returned from fighting in Iraq and Syria.

    "At this time, terror organizations, especially the Islamic State [Daesh], are highly motivated to carry out terrorist attacks all over the world," the bureau warned.

    It asked Israeli tourists to be vigilant and keep away from crowds that usually gather during festivals, in sports venues, museums, shopping areas and places of worship. The warning stressed that in the last 12 months terrorists used methods such as stabbing, car ramming, shooting and explosives.

    The highest warning, Level 1, was issued for Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. In April, during the Jewish festival of Passover, Daesh-affiliated gunmen attacked the Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai's popular tourist attraction.

    Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year in Israel. For nearly twenty-six hours Jews ask God's forgiveness for their sins in the previous year, abstaining from food, drink, and washing. Practically everything stops in Israel on that day. Stores close, the main TV and radio stations stop their broadcasts, websites don't post new information, people are not even allowed to drive their cars unless something threatens their life.

    In October 1973, Egypt launched its surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, knowing that most Israelis wouldn't be listening to radios or answer their phones, making an emergency military draft by the IDF a difficult operation.


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