Israelis Strongly Urged to Leave Turkey After Iranian Kidnapping Plot Foiled
The Israeli government is warning its citizens to avoid Turkey, where an Iranian plot targeting Israelis was foiled last month, Israeli media reported Sunday.
The plot involved kidnapping Israeli nationals and was reportedly foiled with the cooperation of Israel and Turkish authorities, according to Hebrew-language reports, which cited unnamed security officials. The Iranian cell behind the attempt was part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, and was caught after contacting Israeli tourists, Channel 13 reported.
Israeli officials believe that the threat of another attack remains elevated.
A number of similar Iranian cells are still in Turkey, especially in tourist destinations like Istanbul and Antalya, and looking to kidnap and kill Israelis, the outlet’s military correspondent added.
An unnamed security source told Channel 13 on Sunday that there is “a clear and immediate threat to the lives of Israelis in Turkey.”
A day earlier, the outlet reported that Iran is looking to target Israeli tourists as they remain unable to reach senior Israeli officials. The plots are seen as an attempt to retaliate against assassinations in Iran that have been attributed to Israel, including the killing of a senior IRGC officer Hassan Sayad Khodayari in Tehran last month.
Shortly following Khodayari’s death, which Iran has vowed to avenge, Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) warned nationals against traveling to Turkey due to the threat of Iranian attacks, saying it was “high-risk country.”
The NSC is now debating whether to raise the severity of the travel warning to Turkey to its highest level, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. An unnamed source told the outlet, “in light of the intelligence picture, Israelis would do well not to fly at this time. It is worth strongly considering canceling vacations at this time in Turkey.”
Turkey has long been a popular vacation destination for Israelis, though tourism declined significantly following a rupture in relations between Ankara and Jerusalem in 2010. Tourism, including from Israel’s Arab sector, has since risen, while Israel and Turkey have recently made efforts to mend diplomatic ties.