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June 19, 2022 10:29 am
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Bennett Warns Tehran Will Pay Price if Israelis Are Targeted in Turkey

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, May 29, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Gil Cohen-Magen

Israeli senior officials warned over the weekend that the country will respond with force to Iranian attacks against its citizens in Turkey.

“We are currently witnessing Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in various overseas locations,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated on Sunday. “We will continue to strike those who send the terrorists.”

“Our new rule is: Whoever sends – pays,” Bennett exclaimed.

Bennett vowed that Israel’s security forces are working to thwart attempted attacks before they are launched amid numerous warnings in recent days about Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Istanbul. Israel announced Sunday that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will depart Thursday for a quick diplomatic visit to Turkey to meet his counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

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“We have warned Israeli citizens to avoid flying to Turkey – especially Istanbul – at this time if it is not necessary,” Bennett reiterated. “The danger is still great. I call on the citizens of Israel to show personal responsibility and safeguard their security.”

Israel last week raised the travel warning for Istanbul to Level 4 – the highest level. Turkish security forces have in recent days worked with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency to secure places where Israeli tourists are residing and are conducting a manhunt for Iranian terrorist cells.

In recent days, at least 1,000 Israelis in Turkey received calls by Israeli security officials warning them about attempts to harm them and urging them to leave the country.

“The warnings about an unfolding Iranian attack in Turkey are serious, and every Israeli would do well to follow the recommendations of the security forces,” said Tamir Hayman, Managing Director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and a former head of Israel Defence Intelligence. “So far the counterterrorism activity is impressive, but Iran’s determination and desperation to harm any Israeli wherever he is increases the risk of a team getting through and carrying out its intentions.”

Israel President Isaac Herzog on Sunday called his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and thanked him for the efforts by Turkish authorities to thwart terrorist attacks against Israelis on Turkish soil. During the conversation, Herzog cautioned that the threat of terror attacks against Israelis in Istanbul has not yet passed.

“The counterterror effort must continue,” Herzog emphasized. “Our cooperation makes a great contribution to the trust being built between our countries’ governments and peoples.”

The two statesmen agreed to “continue working for peace and stability in our region by means of open and ongoing dialogue,” Herzog’s office said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Tehran over the weekend that Israel is operating to foil Iranian attempts to conduct terror attacks against Israeli citizens in Turkey.

Israel “is prepared to respond decisively to any threat – anywhere,” Gantz asserted. “I call on Israeli citizens in Turkey to follow the defense establishment’s instructions.”

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