image Photo: Reuters

Israel foils attacks on Israelis in Turkey

The report comes amid renewed official warnings for Israelis to abstain from visiting Turkey.

By Erin Viner

Israeli and Turkish intelligence services recently foiled an Iranian plot to attack Israeli targets on Turkish soil last month, senior Israeli officials have revealed.

“Things are really heating up there,” one official told the Ynet news agency, confirming there had been a recent rise in Iran’s attempts to carry out attacks.

Jerusalem reportedly tipped off security officials in Ankara that an Iranian group cell was conspiring to abduct Israeli citizens, foiling the attack at the last minute.

This afternoon, Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) Counter-Terrorism Bureau repeated its travel warning against visiting Turkey, raising its alert to the highest level.

Two weeks ago, the NSC advised the public of security concerns regarding Iranian attempts to attack Israeli targets around the world, but especially in Turkey.

“Given the continuing nature of the threat and in light of the increased Iranian intentions to attack Israelis in Turkey, especially Istanbul, the National Security Council has raised the travel warning for Istanbul to the highest level, Level 4,” said a statement TV7 obtained today.

In addition, the NSC called on Israelis currently in Istanbul “”to leave the city at the earliest opportunity, and on Israelis planning to travel to Turkey to avoid doing so until further notice.

Earlier today, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid issued a statement also calling on “Israelis not to fly to Istanbul, and unless there is an essential need: do not fly to Turkey at all. If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible” due to “after a series of attempted Iranian terrorist attacks against Israelis on vacation in Istanbul.”

Lapid, who also serves as Israeli Alternate Premier, stressed that, “In recent weeks, Israeli security services, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Prime Minister’s Office have put tremendous effort into saving Israeli lives, some of whom have returned to Israel and are walking among us without knowing their lives were saved.”

Further stressing the “real and immediate danger,” Minister Lapid underscored, “ No vacation is worth your lives and the lives of your loved ones. Listen to the directives we are putting out, we are updating them all the time and in accordance with our status assessment.”

Jerusalem’s top diplomat said he wished “to thank the Government of Turkey for the effort they’re putting into protecting the lives of Israeli citizens. Tourism to Turkey is important to both our countries, but they also understand there are risks that should not be taken.”

He also expressed a “message to the Iranians as well: whoever harms Israelis will pay. We will find them, no matter where they are.”

The advisories follow a string of mysterious deaths in Iran, including the assassination of senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officer Col. the May 22 assassination of IRGC Col. Hassan Sayad Khodaei, believed to be a member of the secretive 840 Unit that carries out terror operations against Israeli targets abroad.

The Ayatollah regime has vowed to avenge Khodaei’s death, for which it blames Israel.