Counterterrorism officials have told citizens to avoid Istanbul amid fears of Iranian attacks
The Israeli government has issued a travel warning for Istanbul, Turkey, raising its terrorism alert level to its highest level after officials said they halted several Iranian attack plots targeting tourists.
Yair Lapid, Minister of Foreign Affairs announcement Monday’s new notice, citing “a series of attempted Iranian terrorist attacks against Israelis vacationing in Istanbul” those last weeks.
“We call on Israelis not to fly to Istanbul and if you have no vital needs, do not fly to Turkey. If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible,” he went on to add “No vacation is worth your life.”
Lapid’s statement coincided with a decision by Israel’s Counterterrorism Bureau to raise the alert level for Istanbul to the most severe level on the scale – a distinction shared with conflict-prone countries like Afghanistan. and Yemen – “given the persistent threat and Iranian intentions to hurt the Israelis.” The rest of Turkey has been placed under a lesser warning urging against non-essential travel.
While the FM provided few details about alleged Iranian attack plots, saying only that they were aimed at “kidnapping or murder” Israelis, local media said several citizens visiting Istanbul were “go” by security agents last week for fear that Iranian assassins would strike. Israel’s Channel 13 news noted that officials did not plan to carry out a rescue operation and that some citizens wanted to remain in the city despite warnings, despite a wave of flights carrying thousands of passengers from Turkey to Israel. reported on Monday.
The heightened concern over Istanbul follows previous warnings from Israel’s National Security Council, which said last month that “Iranian Terrorists” were present in Turkey and posed a threat to the Israelis. At the time, more than 100 citizens residing in Turkey were reportedly contacted by counterterrorism officials and urged to return home.
Tensions between Israel and Iran have skyrocketed in recent weeks, with Tehran accusing its rival of assassinating an officer of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Iranian capital last month. While the Israeli government has not formally responded to the allegations, an unnamed intelligence official told The New York Times that the Jewish state was indeed behind the killing, a charge later denied by a senior Israeli lawmaker.
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