In a statement issued Thursday, the National Security Council warned that there may be an increase in the threat of terrorism against Israelis abroad, namely Israelis living in areas near Iran, such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the Kurdish region of Iraq, as well as the Middle East and the African continent more broadly.
“In light of the recent threats from Iranian elements and in light of the past involvement of Iranian elements in terrorist attacks in various countries, there is concern that Iran will try to act in this way against Israeli targets,” notes the statement, originally written in Hebrew.
Israel has repeatedly accused Iran, Hezbollah - a Shia Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon which opposes Israel and Western powers influencing the Middle East - and other pro-Iranian groups of being involved in terrorist activities. Israel has blamed Hezbollah for attacks on Jewish people and Israeli targets abroad, such as the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in London in 1994 and the car-bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina, also in 1994. Hezbollah has also blamed Israel for attacks, most recently for the killing of one of its members in a suspected Israeli airstrike in Syria in July, Al-Jazeera reported at the time.
The statement also warns that global jihadist organizations, especially those involved with Daesh*, are “highly motivated to carry out attacks” against Israelis and Jewish people, stating that locations identified with Israeli or Jewish communities, such as synagogues, kosher restaurants and Jewish museums, are all vulnerable to attack.
“Christian holiday dates, during December 2020 and January 2021, may be attractive for hostile terrorist activity in Europe,” the statement adds.
“Against this background, we call on the public planning to visit abroad, including official and business delegations, to be more vigilant (including near Israeli missions, synagogues and Jewish community institutions), to obey the security guidelines of local authorities, to stay away from crowded areas and to avoid public areas,” the statement adds.
Relations between Israel and Iran have been especially strained after top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed, reportedly by a remote-controlled machine gun, east of Tehran last week.
According to Iran’s Supreme National Security Agency, Israeli spy agency Mossad and the People's Mujahedin Organization, an Iranian political-militant organization, were involved in Fakhrizadeh’s killing. Israel, however, has not claimed responsibility for Fakhrizadeh's death.
Following the scientist’s assassination, Iran sent a letter to the UN, saying that there were "serious indications of Israeli responsibility" for the attack and urged the Security Council and UN Secretary-General António Guterres to condemn the killing.
In a televised statement last month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened a response to Fakhrizadeh’s killing, blaming Israel for the killing.
"We will respond to the assassination of Martyr Fakhrizadeh in a proper time. The Iranian nation is smarter than falling into the trap of the Zionists. They are thinking to create chaos," Rouhani said in the statement, the Associated Press reported at the time.
Politico also reported Wednesday that US President Donald Trump will be pulling out many as half of America’s diplomats from the US Embassy in Baghdad as tensions with Tehran continue to increase following Fakhrizadeh’s killing.
Tensions between Iran and the US have been high ever since the US assassinated top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force, in Iraq on January 3.
*Daesh (ISIS, ISIL, "Islamic State") is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and elsewhere