“How disciplined are Israelis when it comes to following Israel’s travel warnings?” I ask the head of Israel’s National Security Council Intelligence Division Yossi Adler.
“Let’s put it this way,” he says. “Most Israelis need to smell the danger and feel it in order to understand that they are in danger. That’s why we keep the heavy ammunition for D-Day. I don’t shoot it every day and everywhere, and I don’t make threats all the time.”
Over the past year alone, Israel has foiled dozens of planned terror attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world. Adler is one of the most senior figures tasked with preventing such attacks. One of his jobs is to be the public face of official warnings.
“I haven’t had a week without threats,” he tells Zenger News in an interview. “I started working in this position six years ago, and I think that the last two years have been exceptional, from a historical perspective, in terms of terror activity against Israelis and Jews abroad. I think that the amount of threats—and the amount of threats that have been foiled—has never been like this before.”
If I try to get into the mind of the Iranian decision-makers, he is constantly thinking about how he can create a balance for actions that he considers Israeli. The Iranians can’t respond freely from Lebanon, we are striking them in Syria and they also have limits on responding from Gaza or Judea and Samaria. Therefore, Tehran sees the overseas arena as enabling it, as well as in terms of the ability to blur Iranian responsibility.
They are trying to hit “quality” targets: Officials, former officials or business people who are connected to the security establishment. If they fail to find these kinds of targets, they begin to examine all other options to the point of going to the “easy” option. We saw this in Turkey last year, where the terror squads got permission from their operators to hit Israelis wherever they were, regardless of age, position or status.
Now we are dealing with Elizabeth Tsurkov, who also operated with a very high social network presence. She traveled around enemy countries with a Russian passport. And I will tell you a secret: This is not the only case. And since then, we have had other cases. The danger for Jews in Iran is higher than what can happen to a Jew in Belgium. We see the Iranians arresting foreigners. So I think that the “enemy state” directive is reasonable for Jews as well, certainly for Jews with an Israeli connection.
Israel’s National Security Council provides 24/7 service on its website and a call center for issues related to travel warnings.
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