Babylon & Beyond

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ISRAEL: Travel advisories for backpackers

May 24, 2008 |  9:10 am

Travel advisories are issued by governments. The U.S., for example, posts travel advisories on the State Deparment website.

General or specific terror alerts usually make their quiet way through discrete pipelines, and current threats such as those reported by intelligence websites to Israeli businessmen, consultants and whatnots in various Arab countries are presumably handled by the relevant bodies. 

But the latest warning issued by Israel's National Security Council was evidently of such urgency that  authorities turned to the agents best at disseminating information and conveying alarm: parents.

Breaking into the middle of Israel Radio's international hour Wednesday afternoon was a reporter announcing that there was an immediate and concrete danger to Israeli tourists in Jammu and Kashmir and that parents of young Israelis visiting the region were asked to call their kids and instruct them to get out -- and now.

Tens of thousands of Israelis backpack through the Far East every year in what has become a rite of passage over the last two decades. The freedom, laid-back culture and vast landscape are a tempting contrast to the small and nervous country with a chronic water problem. Fifteen years ago, a group of Israeli trekkers had been among tourists involved in a terrorism attack in that region. The backpackers, typically just out of the army, jumped the terrorists that had taken them hostage.  One Israeli was killed and Kashmir was off-limits for a long time, but it's since back on the backpacking map.

The latest warning to Israelis in Kashmir is a "very high concrete threat" (in Hebrew), according to the NSC's counter-terrorism bureau.

—Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem.