Israelis in India: Aware, Alert But at Ease Following Terror Warning; Security Boosted
Some Israeli tourists in India, having heard the latest terror warnings of attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets in Mumbai, New Delhi and other popular areas are concerned, but, others refused to be moved. “I trust the Almighty and feel safe,” declared one, Israel’s Channel 2 News said Tuesday.
Israeli and Indian security officials are concerned that al-Qaeda terrorists may try to hit Israeli tourists in the subcontinent during the upcoming Jewish Rosh Hashanah and Succot holidays, Israel’s NRG News reported Monday.
Last Wednesday, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a video that the terror group was expanding their operations in India, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.
“We are taking the matter very seriously. Such threats can’t be ignored,” an Indian intelligence source told AFP.
Israeli tourists reported boosted security around Jewish centers in recent days – that, they say, was called for due to Israel’s recent Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. They added that they are in touch with their families and said that their trip will continue as usual.
Ophir Eldad, 21, of Kibbutz Givat Haim came to India on a trip with friends after completing army service, and is traveling to the north of the country now. On Tuesday, she heard the warnings, but did not feel the need to talk to her parents.
“It’s not so stressful, and there are often warnings,” she said. “I believe they are aware of this country, I’m continuing my trip as usual,” she said. “There are always police out there and I’m not worried.”
Joseph Zerbiv, 20, of Betar Illit also said he feels safe. He arrived seven months ago and has heard warnings of attacks.
“It does not scare me, even though we see that there’s a lot more police. I told my mother that everything would be fine and I’m sitting and enjoying life,” he noted.
However, other Israelis raised concerns over the reports and contacted Chabad Jewish centers, whose staff tried to assuage their concerns.
“We’re keeping both eyes open, but continue as usual,” said Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, who runs the Chabad center in Mumbai.
“Naturally, travelers see headlines about it and it scares them, but there’s no reason to be and we’re not going crazy over the warnings.” He did, however, point out that Indian authorities have reinforced security around Jewish institutions.
He noted that the warning comes only from Indian authorities and Israeli anti-terror officials, who said that there is no concrete information on a planned attack.
“There is no reason to panic, and people should take things in proportion because we’ve already had such warnings this year,” Kozlowski said.
Rabbi Mendy Lerner, the incoming Chabad rabbi in New Delhi, said that since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, he’s seeing more security personnel in place.
“But there are people who are afraid, but calm down when they see the police. I trust in the Almighty,” Lerner said.
He also noted that Chabad in New Delhi was preparing for the upcoming Rosh Hashanah holiday, and expects many Israelis.
“There’s always tension, but so far, everything is normal,” he noted.